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The Millennial Majority are driving transformation

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Millennials are the majority of the workforce, with more than half of them already ascending into leadership roles and transforming business. A new white paper from Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative has collected and analyzed three years worth of data, with its findings demonstrating that purpose-driven millennials seek innovation and collaboration, and using technology that enables flexibility to help get the job done.

So exactly how are millennials driving transformation? Billie Jean King, Founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, Christie Smith, National Managing Principal for Deloitte University Center for Inclusion and Stephanie Turner, Manager, Deloitte's Survey Research and Analytics Center share their thoughts.

What are the main findings of the report?
BJK: Millennials are seeking purpose driven work. We found that nearly two-thirds of millennials said that they chose their organization because it seemed purpose-driven. For the millennial generation, an organization exists to create business purposeful impact first. Profits will follow. These findings highlight how essential purpose is for businesses.

How are millennials shaking up the country's workplaces?
BJK: Millennials are seeking work/life balance. They are challenging the way work gets done and identified "flexible working conditions and work/life integration" as the No. 1 way organizations would have to change if they wish to improve retention. And although eager to serve in leadership roles, they are not committed to the traditional corporate ladder or being type casted role of previously defined leadership.

How is technology encouraging millennials to be bolder in the workplace?
ST: Millennials were raised as digital natives. We look to technology to redefine how work gets done and where work gets done, but unfortunately we're not always finding what we need in our organizations to do this. In our research, we found eight in 10 agree that developments in technology will make their working lives "more fulfilling." However, when it comes to innovation, one-quarter cite "the attitude of senior management" as a barrier to innovation and one-third believe their companies don't invest enough in research and development.

How can established companies introduce the successful techniques and culture of start-ups into their businesses?
CS: First, millennials want to understand the organization's purpose and how that purpose drives the business strategy and direction. Second, companies should consider how leadership is defined within their organizations. The traditional unidirectional flow of information from top to bottom often prohibits innovation and collaboration. Inspired by millennials, professionals in all generations value complete transparency. Third, millennials want to use technology tools and platforms to innovate, communicate, and collaborate seamlessly up, down, and across the organization. Our first paper showed how millennials redefine inclusion by teaming, collaboration, communication, etc. - the faster we get with challenging the status quo, the better.

As a millennial, how are you transforming the culture and communication between younger members of staff at Deloitte?
ST: From a communication perspective, I'm not in the same place as most of my teams, so I have found ways to build and maintain effective relationships using technology to collaborate, innovate, and problem solve. Culturally, the needs and desires of my generation have inspired an open dialogue with leadership that ultimately benefits all generations. I don't think anyone wants to show up to work without purpose, without the option to think creatively, and without the ability to fit their career goals into a healthy and balanced life.

What impact do you think this report will have on companies across the US?
BJK: Through this collaboration between the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative and Deloitte, the research we're doing highlights important generational differences in the business landscape and the importance of cultivating an inclusive culture. There is a phrase I use in coaching - champions adjust. If corporations want to win with millennials, they need to be willing to adjust their approach and adapt to this changing culture. Organizations that are able to see and reevaluate their cultures through the eyes of this new generation of workers will be able to retain millennial talent, remain competitive, and foster innovation.

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