The Millennials Are Coming…and Culture is King

They used to be called “Generation Y”, but today we know them mainly as Millennials.  This of course is the generation born from (roughly) 1980 through the early 2000s, depending on which definition you choose to follow.  They are a large group – larger than Boomers, much larger than GenX – and growing.  They have often been characterized as a lazy, selfish, technology addicted, unmotivated group.  However, many pundits argue, and I happen to agree, that this generation stands be one of the greatest in American history, and they also stand to change our work lives in some amazing ways.  You may wonder – why does this topic show up in a private equity blog post?  Well, fundamentally, our Kestrel Capital Group approach is different.

We intend to hold our businesses for a long time.  And if we are to be successful, we better be worried about attracting and retaining the best and the brightest team members to our organizations.  And in the future, those individuals will increasingly be Millennials.  They are the most researched generation in history, so there is plenty to read, and plenty of guessing going on as to what they will evolve into.  But one of the consistent themes is that culture in the workplace matters.  It matters more so than in any prior generation.  What does that mean for us?  This generation self identifies, and has acted, to say “well you know what, this culture stinks, my boss is a jerk, and I’m just gonna quit and find another job, even if it pays less…”

They care enough to quit and walk away.  Now folks from my generation and above may say “that’s fine, good riddance…”  but I think that’s a big mistake.  You don’t have to become one, but for us and the business leaders we partner with, we sure better try to understand them – and realize that now more then ever, culture in business matters.  If you’re interested in exploring more – check out this Brookings article called How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America.  And you may also want to get a tattoo, because almost 40% of them have them, and nearly 20% have 2 – 5…trust me – they are different, and they are coming…