Largest Corporations Hopes on Millennials

by Norman Halls, contributor

In the 1950’s workers found their own lives changing as industrial America changed. Fewer workers produced goods; more provided services. By 1956 a majority held white-collar jobs, working as corporate managers, teachers, salespersons and office employees. An even more important form of movement led Americans out of inner cities into new suburbs, where they hoped to find affordable housing. Corporations were moving to the suburbs, where they could build a one story plant.  Today, 2017, a handful of America’s largest corporations have joined an exodus from their suburban plants to build their headquarters in the city, and millennials seem to be the driving force.

Who are Millennials? “Teenagers, twenty- and thirty-somethings have been dubbed the Millennial Generation, or simply Millennials. But what does it mean? And how old is too old to be a Millennial? The term Millennials generally refers to the generation of people born between the early 1980s and 1990s, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Some people also include children born in the early 2000s. The Millennial Generation is also known as Generation Y, because it comes after Generation X — those people between the early 1960s and the 1980s. The publication Ad Age was one of the first to coin the term “Generation Y,” in an editorial in August 1993. But the term didn’t age well, and “Millennials” has largely overtaken it. But the terms basically mean the same thing.” by Douglas Main, LiveScience Staff Writer

“Such relocations are happening across the country as economic opportunities shift to a handful of top cities and jobs become harder to find in some suburbs and smaller cities. General Electric is left Connecticut to build a global headquarters in Boston; and Marriott International is moving from an emptying Maryland office park into the center of Bethesda. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said the old model where executives chose locations near where they wanted to live has been upturned by the growing influence of technology in nearly every industry. Years ago, IT operations were an afterthought. Now, people with such expertise are driving top-level corporate decisions, and many of them prefer urban locales.” by Jonathan O’Connell The Washington Post.

It’s a drastically different outlook from the generations before who are used to the more traditional hierarchy of large corporate firms – staying at the same firm and working a set number of years in a particular post before progressing. But as this group grows as a proportion of the workforce, employers will have to shift their working practices to attract and retain staff from this generation. Firms which get it right can create a competitive advantage in securing the best staff, says China Gorman, a HR executive with over 20 years’ experience.

How we choose to proceed with the current social discourse about millennials hinges on how many optimists choose to participate in shaping the discussion. After all, every facet of our character as a group is subject to a multitude of interpretations.  Although specific forms of engagement vary, millennials have matched older generations in volunteering and consumer activism. In addition, we want to make a difference: Eighty-eight percent of millennials females and 82% of millennial males reported that it’s important to be engaged in work that gives back to the community. A 2006 UCLA study of hundreds of thousands of college freshmen found that 66.3% thought it was important to help others, an increase from 62.4% in 2004 and the highest percentage recorded in 25 years.

Gone are the days when businesses only had to respond to shareholders. Community involvement for a business can be a situation in which everyone wins.  In corporate development, traditional dealmaking approaches may no longer be enough to create the desired value and manage potential activism. Companies today need agility, fresh thinking, and a high tolerance for disruption to seize market opportunities in areas where new business models are still being defined. Today’s investors have strong opinions and are not afraid to share them. As a result, getting buy-in from shareholders may end up being nearly as important as coming to terms with the target when it comes to executing a successful deal.

Corporations should be mindful that the millennial generation is known for a number of things. They’re diverse in a variety of ways, including culturally and socially. And they’re the most tech-savvy generation yet. They’re a generation of movers. Just how many millennials are moving? Well, 43% of the survey respondents said they’d moved away from their college city or hometown and 44% of respondents live in a more urban city currently than the one they grew up in. Finding a job was by far the most common reason for millennials to move to a different town or city. “But six in 10 Millennials also say they are open to different job opportunities, which is again the highest percentage among all generations in the workplace. And these opportunities are not within their current company: A separate study shows that an overwhelming majority of all workers — 93% — say they left their employer the last time they changed roles. Only about 7% took a new position in their company.” by Brandon Rigoni, Ph.D. Harvard Research

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