Create a Millennial-Minded Workplace Culture

Sunnie Lurie |

When you walk in an organization today, have you noticed any changes in the work culture? I’m talking about things such as casual attire; pets at work; flex hours; relaxed atmosphere with space encouraging conversation; standup desks; ergonomic ball chairs; managers who coach instead of boss; and more. If you’re a millennial, this is considered status quo. But for the rest us, right before our eyes we are seeing an evolving work culture with new values, behaviors, beliefs and work spaces. With more frequency now, Gallup and many high-powered consultants are providing ideas on how organizations should adjust the work culture for millennials (ages 20-36) to produce high-impact performance.

I agree companies need to adapt to millennials’ values. However, I also believe millennial ideas reach across generations and are truly beneficial to all employees. Gallup recently published a list of changes shown below, from what was important at work in the past to what millennials value today and in the future.

Past                         Today and Future
My Paycheck            My Purpose
My Satisfaction         My Development
My Boss                   My Coach
My Annual Review     My Ongoing Conversations
My Weaknesses        My Strengths
My Job                     My life

This is a tremendous list to consider for your organization. It speaks to the future of all our workplaces. Today’s list of ideas represents the direction we are headed—toward a cultural focus on employee wellbeing. The new generation of workplace health emphasizes wellbeing of the total person—mind and body. It is not to pamper employees, it is to empower and motivate them to be their best and thrive, which is great for business. Top talent today expects to work in a healthy environment that goes beyond physical wellness and supports both physical and mental health. Examples of mental health include activities that promote career wellbeing to enhance meaning and purpose in their job; intellectual wellbeing to further their growth and development; social wellbeing to build solid relationships with their co-workers, managers and community; and emotional wellbeing to present stress reduction techniques or financial issues.

Today’s shift in work culture is real, in large and small organizations. We are seeing award-winning organizations infusing wellbeing into the culture because it’s a proven driver of performance for millennials and employees of all ages. The description of workplace wellbeing, according to the National Wellness Institute includes a combination of five key areas: occupational, intellectual, social, emotional, and physical wellbeing. 

Signs that the wellbeing movement is more than a trend is highlighted by many leaders and organizations. Tom Ciccotti, executive VP of the Chicago Wellness Research Institute spoke in 2015 about the future of the industry. He said the “total employee wellbeing” concept is taking hold in corporate America to empower and enrich the way employees work and live. Similarly, the National Wellness Institute had the theme of their 2016 corporate conference as “sustainable change … to usher in a new era of wellness—one that shines the light on true whole-person wellbeing.”

Gallup research shows the link between wellbeing and performance, reporting wellbeing initiatives raise engagement and productivity and lower absenteeism and turnover. The lower turnover statistic is especially significant with 50 million millennials in the workforce who leave jobs faster than ever before. Organizations implementing wellbeing strategies will help increase employee engagement, retain employees and attract first-rate people.

Take a look at your culture. Are most employees engaged and productive? Or would it help for your leadership to apply new cultural changes to strengthen your company? A great way to assess your work environment is with a brief employee engagement survey. If employee engagement is high, chances are you already foster wellbeing and a vital culture. If engagement is low, it might be time to discuss new cultural strategies to reenergize employees and help them thrive. When employees of all ages are engaged and healthy in their overall work lives, they are more committed, give more effort and are much more likely stay.

Sunny K. Lurie, PhD. is CEO of Advanced Performance, Inc, a firm that helps organizations maximize employee engagement, motivation and performance by promoting organizational wellbeing. Questions about promoting high-impact performance and wellbeing? Email Sunny at: lurie@APerformanceInc.com