February 27, 2020

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How Millennials Have Created A Shift In Employee Attitudes Is Changing The Way We Do Business


Co-author: Jess Handley 

As companies and other organizations continue to become more globally connected and complex in structure, the landscape is changing for employee- employer relationships. There is a noticeable seismic shift with new expectations around leadership, culture, and engagement being at its core. Influencing this shift in attitudes are millennials, who, with rapid access to virtually infinite amounts of information are driving the era of transparency, and demanding more from their companies than a paycheck and benefits.

Despite coming into the workforce in a time where the economy resembles that of The Great Depression, millennials are more optimistic than previous generations about the state of the world and how things can change for the better; a belief that has manifested in the way this group views prospective employment. According to a 2015 report by UK based company Global Tolerance, 84% of millennials consider it their duty to make a change in their lifestyle, while half of millennials would choose purposeful work over a higher salary. This in turn has created a number of opportunities and challenges for companies, particularly when it comes to hiring strategies and offerings in order to attract the best talent.

Younger employees are becoming more assertive and less obedient, cultivating their own values and desires, and expecting organisations to follow them rather than the other way around. Wolff Olins’ 2015 report notes that for business leaders this presents an interesting challenge, as building a strong sense of purpose and a thriving company is key, but catering to the different agendas of individuals in order to maintain a certain level of employee satisfaction can be viewed as equally important.

The power balance in the employer-employee relationship is changing, making today’s employees more like customers or partners than subordinates. Bayt CEO Rabea Atata believes that in order to create durable organisations, CEOs should be turning their attention to input over output, focusing on culture above sales in order to build more robust companies. While this is arguably a progressive step for CEOs in order to align themselves and their business offering with what millennials value in prospective employers, this principle is not immune to its own challenges. Distributed leadership and higher employee autonomy may nurture experimentation, but balancing this concept with regulatory demands can lead to chaos, fear and panic. 

Nevertheless, companies that have placed authentic values in the core of their business model and subsequent communication strategies have benefitted from not only attracting the right talent, but financially too. According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report of 2015, organizations that have aligned their values to be purpose driven and engage their staff on various levels have lower employee turnover rates, resulting in higher levels of productivity and subsequent profit margins.

Australia’s Westpac bank is an example of a company that aimed to find ways to fulfill both commercial and social objectives. The company committed to becoming “one of the world’s great companies, helping our customers, communities and people to prosper and grow”. Subsequently, 87% of Westpac’s employees believe that they are making a meaningful difference, which empowers 72% to tell others outside the company about their community initiatives. 

By embracing the new era of transparent business and the values revolution authentically, companies can integrate these values across their strategies, operations and communications in order to make a difference and succeed in a purpose driven world, as well as garner the respect of the group entering and changing the workforce at a rapid pace. 

To view Global Tolerance’s 2015 Report, please visit: http://www.globaltolerance.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/GT-Values-Revolution-Report.pdf

To view Wolff Olin’s WO Report, please visit: https://woreport.wolffolins.com/

Both Wolff Olin’s and Global Tolerance will be presenting research at Sustainable Brands’ 15 London conference taking place next month. For more information and to register, please visit: www.SB15London.com.

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