Almost two decades after the year 2000, there are still no shortage of complaints being made about millennials. But the fact remains clear— those whiny-screen-addled-gluten-free-sheeple have shaken the workplace to its core. In 2018 it felt like a near forgone conclusion that America’s largest generational workforce would continue to defy more than a few conventions that up until this point, have remained near and dear to the American job machine. Here are four workplace paradigm shifts championed by millennials in 2018 that are sure to continue on in 2019.
The #MeToo Movement
Americans have taken issue with the sexual misconduct of their elected officials before. Donald Trump’s infamous “grab em’ by the pxxxx” remarks, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, all the way back to Anita Hill’s testimony at Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Still, the debate surrounding the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, despite allegations that he had brutally assaulted Christine Blasey Ford as a young man, shone a light on the issue unlike any in the past. Sadly, the number of workplace assault complaints are still stifled by a very reasonable fear of retaliation. That said, an official EEOC report found that the number of workplace sexual harassment complaints has increased; citing a younger workforce as the primary driver.
The Gig Economy
Okay, so chances are, your last Uber driver wasn’t exactly a spring chicken. Regardless, that pre-vetted emergency sitter you hired for $20 an hour — they could very well be finishing their senior year of college. That totally insured dog walker who’s making sure that your furry bundle of joy doesn’t ruin the carpet while you’re at work? Yeah, the one being paid $8.40 an hour, them. They’re likely splitting that meager sum with some poorly managed dog walking app, run by some chump in a corner office across the world. Yeah, millennials will take less money to do what they love, but that comes at a cost. That means more of them rely on the gig economy to make ends meet.
The problem with easy access to drivers, baby sitters, dog walkers, etc is that for it to cost the consumer and the company less, the actual worker usually ends up doing it for less as well. That seems a lot worse when you consider the fact that clients who hire from the gig economy pool aren’t usually living paycheck to pay check, but the young people they employ are.
Continued Reorienting of The Corporate Culture
While the corporate sector is typically first in line to utilize radical new cost cutting measures, it often lags behind when it comes to accommodating radical social change. But, as millennials enter the workforce in droves, a lot of new issues are finally getting the shine they deserve in that space. We still live in an era where dread locs or anything more adventurous than the MLK bald fade might still get you laughed (or at least uncomfortably ignored) right out of a corporate board room. Despite this, more millennials become their own bosses and hire from talent pools that are habitually looked over by the corporate world.
CEO’s are having to come to grips with the reality that finding the right talent might require a serious reassessment of who gets a seat at the table, or rather, who doesn’t and why. But this slow change doesn’t hinge solely on an aesthetic shift. The gender wage gap for example, within the millennial workforce, is much smaller. Not to mention that more millennial dads are taking advantage of things like paternal leave and working from home. This has forced a lot of companies from Netflix to Etsy into a position where they offer real leave benefits to fathers rather than assume that they don’t need time with their new child.
The New, “Is this because I’m…?”
In a manner that was both surprising and yet eerily predictable, people were decidedly split when news dropped that Colin Kaepernick was being endorsed by Nike. The NFL had certainly done poorly by a man who was simply kneeling to acknowledge the humanity of his own people, or put another way, 70 percent of NFL players. Kap deserved a come up. But on the other hand, who is Nike, the reformed sweatshop overlord, to talk about all this social justice? As proud as people were that Kap’s cause was getting million dollar support, there were those who saw it as a betrayal of a less tangible ethic that would sooner fall on its sword than side with the likes of Nike. In the workplace, a new generation of millennials will have to continue asking themselves the hard questions about their place in a new and profitable social landscape.
One doesn’t have to be a master of observation to realize that there are more people walking around as proud and aware members of marginalized communities today than there were just a decade ago. While that means more businesses catering to marginalized communities (a net good), that’s not all that comes with it. Naturally, large companies will do what they have to in order to capitalize on the current zeitgeist: identity. That is to say, that millennials and every one who comes after them will find there to be a very fine line between adding to a company’s culture, and becoming their diversity statistic.