The modern American workplace is largely composed of Gen X and Millennial workers. At this point, they have been the backbone for years, but the day is quickly approaching when Centennial employees will begin taking over the workplace. In fact, the oldest Centennials will turn 21 in 2018. It is important for employers to recognize that, just as Centennials have done much to shape the consumer market, they are approaching the workplace with a much different mindset than their predecessors, and it is crucial for businesses to know how this mindset differs if they want to successfully attract and retain Centennial employees.
The first area in which Centennials differ from Gen X and Millennials is in how they define success in the workplace. Previous generations looked primarily to money and possessions as their definition of success and accomplishment. They were most concerned with the life their money allowed them to live. Centennials are much different. They focus most on the feelings that their job can provide, especially intangible qualities such as security and fulfillment. In fact, when they were asked about their top signs of success, Centennials said that “feeling like your life is meaningful” and “being in control of your life” were the two most important, followed closely by “being good at your job” and “being secure in your employment.”
As a result of these shifting priorities, Centennials approach day-to-day work differently. They want to be viewed as self-starters and prefer to problem-solve on their own instead of relying on others. Centennials also prefer to have a broad array of experiences instead of just focusing on one area. They have recognized that the world can change drastically at any time, and they want to be prepared for any sudden career changes they need to make. Employers often mistake this behavior as a lack of loyalty, but that is simply not the case. Centennials are working to avoid the mistakes of previous generations. Finally, Centennials are constantly thinking and planning for the future. They are not reliant on milestones or company timelines when they plan a move or request a promotion. This ties in with their desire to diversify their work experience. Employers need to know that their Centennial employees are thinking about the future, and they should be proactive about partnering with their employees to come up with a plan for success.
There is no question that Centennials have much to offer as they transition out of school into the workplace, but since they are so different from previous generations, it is imperative that employers adapt to these changes. Those who are willing and able to evolve will be far ahead of the curve when it comes to attracting, hiring, and retaining Centennial employees.