Companies that are in sync with their younger employees are set up for success

From the pages of In Business magazine.

The March issue of In Business magazine has always been one of my favorites. I always enjoy learning more about the emerging local leaders who are part of the 40 Under 40 class.

It’s also interesting to find out more about the companies the honorees work for. I think it’s safe to say that these individuals are excelling in part due to their employers. Since the majority of the 40 Under 40 honorees are millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, I can only assume their employers are finding ways to create a culture that supports the needs of this new generation.

A few months back, I wrote an article for The Huffington Post titled “Dear Corporate America: Stop Whining and Give Millennials What They Want.” It talked about how most people, myself included, are sick of hearing about millennials, but that there might be some merit to the demands they are making in the workplace.

According to the 2014 Deloitte Millennial Survey, Generation Y will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that in 2012 there were approximately 60 million baby boomers in the U.S. workforce, but only 50 million Gen Xers. It doesn’t take a math whiz to see that when those baby boomers start to retire in a few short years, millennials will be forced to make up a deficit of 10 million workers. So love us or hate us, you are going to need us.

The organizations that adapt to our needs and wants are going to recruit and retain top emerging leaders, like those in this year’s 40 Under 40 class. In coming years, when the battle for talent intensifies, having these leaders in your organization will give you a huge competitive edge. Although there are a lot of changes millennials would like to see in the workplace, I have narrowed it down to three that I think would be easy to implement and extremely beneficial for both your organization and your emerging millennial leaders.

Continued professional development: Studies have shown that many millennials are willing to trade high salaries for opportunities for career progression and perks like top-notch training and development programs. The PwC Millennials at Work survey revealed that one of the qualities that makes an organization attractive to millennials is having an excellent development program. When ranking the top three benefits that millennials found to be most valuable, training and development came in first, followed by flexible work hours and cash bonuses.

Positive social impact: According to the 2014 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 63% of millennials donate to charities, 43% actively volunteer or are members of community organizations, and 52% sign petitions to support local causes. We are looking to be a part of organizations that value making a positive social impact. Millennials believe that business success should be measured not only by financials but also by the business’s focus on improving society and giving back to good causes.



A flexible work schedule: According to the PwC 2013 Global Generational Study, 64% of millennials would like to occasionally work from home, and 66% would like to be able to adjust their work hours. Notice, they didn’t say they want to work less; they want to shift how and when they work in order to be as successful and happy as possible. Overall, millennials surveyed believed that productivity should not be measured by the number of hours in the office but rather by the actual output and quality of work performed.

Don’t give us these things just because we want them. Make these changes to improve your bottom line, create a more positive culture, and empower your employees to live their best possible lives, all while making them effective staff members and advocates for your company.

Create a culture that accepts millennials and provides a work environment that allows them to be happy, to make a difference in the world, and to do work that makes your business more successful than ever.

Congrats to all of this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, and congrats to all the organizations that have created an environment and culture to help them succeed!

Fast Track Action Items for March:

■ Talk with your boss or supervisor about creating a career plan. How can you work toward your personal and professional goals while also helping your organization?
■ If you feel your professional development needs are not being met, talk with your company’s executives about how you can explore more opportunities outside the organization, or encourage them to create a more robust internal training program.
■ Find ways to participate in your organization’s community outreach, or find additional opportunities to help it give back to the community.

I’d love to hear from you. Shoot me an email at to let me know what your organization does to help grow and develop emerging talent.

Jenna Atkinson is the president of CONNECT Madison, a young professionals group offering development, community engagement, and relationship-building
opportunities to local business leaders.

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