Traditions Out As Millennial Input Shapes Workplaces

By Chris Fleisher
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Erica Shaffer isn’t interested in keeping workplace traditions at Excela Health.

“I don’t care what we did 10 years ago,” said Shaffer, who oversees the home care and hospice division for the Greensburg-based medical provider. “I want to know how we can move forward.”

That’s what 32-year-old Shaffer, a member of the millennial generation, said when her staff, some of whom who started their careers before she was born, questioned her suggestion to go to a four-day work schedule for nurses.

The move could give employees more flexiblity, but critics said it didn’t work when they tried it years before, and probably wouldn’t work now.

Shaffer persuaded them to give it another try.

Moving to more flexible schedules is among the many ways in which a new generation of talent is shaping the modern workplace.

Millennials, or anyone born after 1980, surpassed Generation Xers this year as the largest generation in the nation’s labor force. And their impact is being felt as employers shape policies and office culture to suit the demands of younger workers.

It is a generation that usually prefers to communicate using technology rather than face-to-face, dresses casually, enjoys collaborating with colleagues in open offices rather than isolated in cubicles, craves feedback from managers and demands flexible work arrangements.

They have the numbers — 53.5 million — to press for these changes at a time when digital technology has made it easier than ever to be an entrepreneur, to leave an unsatisfying job and work for themselves, said Anne Donovan, who has studied millennials for consulting and research firm PwC.

Pressure to adapt
It hasn’t been easy for employers or older workers to adapt, Donovan said. But the alternative — losing young talent to competitors — will be much worse.

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