Millennials Are Redefining Corporate Culture – How Will Your Company Adapt?

Author: Emilia Arutunian

Guest Editor: Sarena Kustic

July 9, 2018 9:00am

With each passing year, more and more millennials enter the workplace. Pew Research Center defines millennials as individuals born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22 to 37 in 2018).[1]   The American Bar Association predicts, by the year 2020, about one half of the U.S. workplace will be made up of millennials. [2]

As more millennials enter the workplace, the term “millennial” becomes more and more derogatory, labeled “cringe-inducing” [3] by Law Technology Today. Some believe millennials struggle in corporate workplaces more than any preceding generation.  A study by Business Achievers proclaims many millennial workplace struggles derive from a generational feeling of entitlement as a result of living in a time of prosperity and the rise of technology, which has resulted in a heightened desire for acceptance, decreased confidence, as well as an inevitable expectation for instant gratification.[4]

Whatever the reason for millennials’ professional struggles, with more millennials entering the workforce, companies must learn to adapt to millennials and create an environment conducive to millennial success, as the future will unavoidably be led by millennials.

To evaluate how companies may create environments productive to millennials, we must analyze what millennials value in the workplace. According to a 2010 Pew Research Center Analysis, 78% of millennials value a fulfilling career where they enjoy their work over a highly paid career.3  This is great news for law firms, as it results in eager young attorneys who find significance in contributing to their firms in meaningful ways, and appreciate their jobs for more than the paychecks they provide.  While law firms should pay associates a competitive salary, firms should also consider additional ways to motivate employees beyond monetary compensation. Millennials may stay loyal to firms that provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, focus on their individual contributions, and leverage mentor relationships to guide the next generation of attorneys.  [5]

For a long time, even as a millennial, I was greatly bothered by the notion millennials needed special treatment to adapt.  However, with time, and upon my re-evaluation of millennials in the context of the complexities of modern society, my feelings changed.

The fact of the matter is, life is much different today than it was 20 or 30 years ago – it is more difficult, in many ways.  For instance, in this day and age, a bachelor’s degree is incredibly expensive, and simultaneously worthless in many fields.[6]  Further, a 2018 study found a minimum wage worker cannot afford a 2-bedrom rental in any U.S. state.[7]  Moreover, a mere 8-hour workday is essentially extinct in many careers, and functioning households require at least two working adults. As a result,  my generation is expected to receive an education beyond a bachelor’s degree, come out of school older and with higher debt, and are required to spend more time at work.  Consequently, our work becomes more than a job, it becomes a fundamental part of our existence which we have worked most of our lives to achieve.  This drives our desires for fulfilling careers, as well as our yearning for work-life integration (as opposed to work-life balance), our ambition for relationship building in the workplace, and our eagerness for opportunities for recognition and quick engagement.[8]

I believe companies can create a workplace for millennials to succeed by formalizing internal organizations or committees within the company to promote leadership and growth for young professionals.  For example, Tyson & Mendes has many opportunities for young associates to become involved in firm leadership and administrative processes, such as allowing attorneys of all ranks to participate in internal firm committees, providing crucial training to further develop one’s legal skills, and holding bi-weekly all-attorney meetings where every attorney is welcomed to present questions on any topic.  Tyson & Mendes’ efforts have developed strong and confident attorneys, resulting in young lawyers successfully preparing the groundwork for complex litigation and even second-chairing trials.  It is in employers’ best interest to give millennials the tools they need to grow today, for we will soon become tomorrow’s leaders.

 

[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/01/defining-generations-where-millennials-end-and-post-millennials-begin/

[2] https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/publications/youraba/2017/december-2017/4-musts-for-retaining-millennial-attorneys.html

[3] http://www.lawtechnologytoday.org/2018/01/the-millennial-lawyer/

[4] https://www.business-achievers.com/general/why-millennials-struggle-in-the-workplace

[5] http://www.lawtechnologytoday.org/2018/01/the-millennial-lawyer/

[6] https://www.lifehack.org/articles/work/5-reasons-whyyour-new-bachelors-degree-is-worthless.html

[7] https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/14/us/minimum-wage-2-bedroom-trnd/index.html

[8] https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/publications/youraba/2017/december-2017/4-musts-for-retaining-millennial-attorneys.html

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