Ideas for Leaders #481

Firms Are Not Adapting to the Millennial Workforce

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Key Concept

Millennials bring technological savvy to the workplace, but also require focused managerial attention. According to the latest CFO Survey from Duke Fuqua and CFO Magazine, many companies — especially American companies — are not adapting to attract or retain millennials.

Idea Summary

In addition to economic and diversity issues, the Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey for the fourth quarter of 2014 focused on the issue of millennials in the workplace.

A majority of CFOs surveyed believe that millennials can add value to companies, especially, according to 70% of the CFOs surveyed, through the technological savvy that they bring to the job. More than 22% found them more energetic, while 21% of CFOs said that millennials were more creative and innovative than other workers.

An added advantage to hiring millennials, of course, is that they will be younger and thus less expensive employees in terms of salary costs (as noted by 36% of the survey respondents) and health care costs (26%).

However, managing millennials can be a challenge. More than half of the CFOs surveyed believe that millennials are less loyal to a company, and nearly half believe that they bring an attitude of entitlement to the workplace. About 27% of CFOs decry the me-first attitude of millennials, and 23% believe that millennials will be more interested in their own personal development than in the success of the company. In short, for nearly of third of the CFOs surveyed, millennials require more intense management than employees from other generations.

A number of companies are not prepared to invest in this intense management. Companies in the U.S., especially, lag behind their counterparts in other countries in adapting their management practices to accommodate millennials. According to the survey results, only 41% of American companies have made changes in order to hire and retain more millennials, compared to, for example, 70% of companies in Latin America and Asia. 

Business Application

Millennials may be worth the trouble, but trouble they are, especially for more traditional companies less open to change. Only 10% of the CFOs surveyed said their companies have sought to change the corporate culture to better reflect the needs and priorities of millennials.

While a complete culture overhaul may not be required, there are some significant steps that companies can take to attract millennials. In the survey, CFOs cited the following initiatives taken by their companies:

  • offering more flexible work hours (21%)
  • allowing employees to work from home (17%)
  • increasing training (16%)
  • launching mentoring programs (13%)
  • starting a new social responsibility policy (7%)

Like the baby boomer generation, the millennials represent a large generation that will someday dominate the workforce. Companies will benefit from making the effort to bring in and develop these future leaders. 

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Idea conceived

  • December 2014

Idea posted

  • February 2015

DOI number



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