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Change isn't coming, it's here

If you had any doubt about the influence of Millennials, consider the recent news from upscale grocery chain Whole Foods: The market wryly referred to as “Whole Paycheck” will launch a new brand — with lower prices — aimed at the Millennial shopper.

The oldest members of this generation are now young professionals on their own, many with a propensity for a healthier lifestyle and more nutritional food choices. That’s what caught the attention of Whole Foods. But don’t miss the bigger fact here: The shear size of this generation.

At 70 million strong, the Millennials are destined to reshape more than Whole Foods as they march through each phase of life. Like their Boomer parents and grandparents — all 60 million of them — Millennials will redefine everything from desirable neighborhoods and destinations to communication and fashion.

And, again like the Boomers before them, they will change the way we do business. Much has been said about the four (or five) generation workplace, generally from the perspective of helping Millennials fit in. But what about when Millennials are the majority? Here are three ideas your company can take action on today:

Meet people where they are. Your Millennials want to text, your Boomers want a meeting. You’ll want to find ways to accommodate a variety of styles of communication and interaction, and help everybody learn from each other.

Establish what’s acceptable. Meeting people where they are doesn’t mean anything goes. Be proactive about establishing norms and boundaries. When will a text suffice? How do you interact with clients? What’s the appropriate turnaround on answering emails? What emails require an answer? You’ll want to be clear about what works in your workplace culture.

Practice the unfamiliar and uncomfortable. For some, picking up the phone is awkward. Others might not regularly check their phone and leave a client text unanswered. Introduce different styles of communication for everyone, allowing people to get comfortable with their third, fourth or even fifth choice of communication style.

As Bob Dylan sang it in 1964, the year the youngest Boomer was born: The times, they are a changin’.

Cindy Miller is CEO of Cindy Miller Communications.

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