How the Millennial Generation is Transforming the Workplace

Millennials change how and where we work, redefining professional leadership.

By Azim Ahmed, Staff Writer

Photo by Emily Scherzinger

Photo by Emily Scherzinger

Since William Strauss and Neil Howe coined the term ”millennials” in their 1992 Generations, we have grappled with the meanings, implications and stereotypes of labelling an entire generation. [pullquote]Stubborn. Ambitious. Socially connected. These terms have been used to describe the millennial generation, born roughly between 1982 and 2000.[/pullquote] But how exactly do these traits influence the workplace and redefine leadership?

According to Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding, a millennial research and consulting firm, there are about 80 million millennials and 79 million baby boomers in the United States today. While no data has been collected for Canada yet, we have a similar estimated ratio north of the border. By 2025, millennials will represent about 75 per cent of the U.S. workforce, swallowing their smaller predecessors, Generation X. That this change is transforming the workplace is an understatement.

This generation favours a more casual work environment. “Our study found that 79 per cent of millennials think they should be allowed to wear jeans to work at least sometimes, compared to only 60 per cent of boomers,” writes Schawbel.

Where and how millennials work is another change. They have grown up with digital technology — and the youngest millennials are the first to spend their entire lives in the Internet era. This allows them to work remotely. [pullquote]Millennials have no problem putting in long hours — as long as they have the flexibility to work from home or their favourite coffee shop.[/pullquote]

As the generation pushes flexibility to a new level, they are changing the traditional nine-to-five routine. Over the last decade, telecommuting has become more common, as younger professionals want a different work environment than their parents. In the government sector in particular, amid heavy budget cuts, telecommuting has evolved from just a perk.

Flexibility in the workplace is essential for millennials. According to Schawbel’s study, 40 per cent of millennials are okay with lower pay if it means more flexibility on the job.

A recent report from Cisco revealed that more than half of millennial workers would choose social media freedom over a higher salary when considering a job offer. They want to be connected to their friends and families in addition to co-workers throughout the day. While some workplaces have banned social media outright, others have embraced it — as long as employees use it professionally. This can also mean that employees are connected with their work well past punching out for the day.

The challenge for today’s businesses is to harness the talent and drive of the younger workforce for that competitive edge. It’s increasingly vital to reconsider how to lead.

Azim Ahmed is a public relations professional with over five years of experience as a journalist. Azim has a special interest in writing on the business of sports and on Canada’s role in a global economy. 


Generation Y Culture Traditions
Time: The Millennial Generation
Huffington Post: Millennial Thanksgiving
Understanding Millennials
Hiring Millennials
How Millennials are Changing the Workplace
More Millennials in the Workplace

Show more