In the workplace, millennials are challenging corporate values

Innovation Hub
Office workers

Employees work in front of their computers at the company's headquarters in Saint-Denis near Paris October 24, 2013.

Charles Platiau/Reuters

How long have you been in your current job? If you were born between 1980 and 2000, chances are that it’s been less than three years.

Millennials, the largest generation after the baby boomers, have different attitudes toward careers — but employers still haven’t caught up to that new paradigm, even as millennials make up an ever-increasing portion of the work force.

“They’re dealing with a generation for whom retention — loyalty to their employer — is not their number one objective,” says Joe Kessler, CEO of Noise, a marketing and creative agency.

Kessler argues that modern corporate benefits, including even annual bonuses, don't reflect the values of many of today’s younger workers. 

A New Paradigm

“If you accept the idea that your best people aren’t going to stay,” says Kessler, “you start to develop programs that are geared to getting the most out of an employee while you have them.”

In response to changing attitudes, some companies are experimenting with different types of benefits, including "micro-raises."

Instead of the traditional annual review, “companies are actually doing shorter, quicker monthly reviews with monthly smaller raises that over the course of the year might add up to the same amount or even add up to less, but give these young employees more constant feedback.”

Kessler anticipates that the same millennial attitudes currently challenging employers’ expectations will challenge other aspects of society as well.

“We have deep-rooted cultural institutions, in terms of finance and the economy and governments, led generally by boomers and Xers … that are resisting that change, but I think it’s inevitable that change is going to occur."

This story first aired as an interview on PRI's Innovation Hub with Kara Miller.

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