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Millennials Care About the Heartbeat of Your Company

Millennials Care About the Heartbeat of Your Company

Thanks to the incredible work of thought leaders like Kare Anderson, Mark Babbitt, Bryan Kramer, Shawn Murphy and so many others, there is much greater understanding and increasing willingness among businesses, large and small alike, in myriad sectors, all across the globe, to adopt a more human-centered way of thinking about, leading and investing in their people. Companies are seeing first hand how a fundamental shift to a people-first, and-profits-as-a-direct-result, manner of thinking and leading is the only way they will succeed in maximizing human potential, individually and collectively, throughout their organization.

[Read more: Dear Baby Boomer Boss: A Message from Your Millennial Employee]

With Millennials slated to make up over 50% of the US workforce by 2020, and 75% of the global workforce by 2030, this paradigm shift to humans as the organizing principle and key lever for success has spurred much greater attention to the way Millennials think; the values and goals they uphold about themselves, their work and their relationships; and what they expect and need to engage, perform and thrive to their fullest extent. The companies that embrace the socially conscious, purpose-driven and relationship-oriented workings of the ‘Millennial Mind’ are making it a priority to:

  • Create positive, open, relationship-driven company cultures and climates, and to ensure understanding of the necessary distinction between the two;
  • Provide greater support and strategically targeted development opportunities to individuals and teams alike;
  • Give employees a credible, ongoing role in making decisions on a wide array of issues concerning the company;
  • Ensure all employees have ready access to thought leaders and innovations in their respective fields; and
  • Ensure all leadership understands and is adaptable to the expectations, needs and interests of Millennials.

Equally important to Millennials, but less talked about is their expectation that their company, and the work they do on a daily basis, is making the world a better place in some way. They want to see, feel and be able to readily share with their friends, family, random strangers, etc., the direct link between their work and the world’s needs. Said differently, they expect their company to possess a strong heartbeat.

What is the heartbeat of a company?

For starters, the heartbeat has nothing to do with compensation; office perks; the company’s reputation and growth; or the quality and ingenuity of its products or services. It also isn’t about the company’s philanthropic activities, or its overall mission and values.

[Related: Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce: 4 Tips to Help You Become a Better Leader]

The heartbeat of a company is the connection, the bloodline, the link, the causal effect between the work of the company and each of its employees, and making a difference in the world. Any need, anywhere, of any scope or scale, Millennials aim to leave a social imprint and see their career, and their employer in particular - regardless of sector and industry, and the position they hold - as a key vehicle through which to accomplish this goal.

The heartbeat is the true story that defines and communicates the way in which each employee, and the company as a whole is contributing to the world at large. It is the brief, passion-filled, powerful and lay-friendly 2-3 sentence description of how their work is definitely, without question, helping to address needs/create opportunity far outside the bounds of their company.

[Related: Say What You Mean: Why You Need to Communicate with Intention]

Below are two examples of company heartbeats. For these well-known companies, it is fairly easy to identify and articulate ways in which each company is making a positive difference in the world at a basic human and/or environmental level. For other companies, the heartbeat may be more difficult to identify and require a longer series of connections - multiple links in a chain of logic - to identify and in turn share the manner in which the company, and its employees are improving the human condition in a meaningful, sustainable way.

Facebook

Facebook continues its standing as a great place to work, having earned the #6 seat on Glassdoor’s 50 Best Places to Work in 2016 list. In Glassdoor’s survey, which is based solely on input from employees, Facebook’s employees were quick to point to the high energy, positive work environment; a management team with a transparent style; and perks that include on-site massage, bike repair, among others, as key factors that make Facebook a great place to work.

While these elements are important and clearly valued by Facebook’s employees, they do not reflect the heartbeat of the company. By the same token, for Millennials, the heartbeat also isn’t the role that their skills, knowledge and hard work are playing in making Facebook’s technology appealing, easy to use and readily accessible.

Rather, real meaning comes from Millennials’ ability to say the following when asked ‘what they do for a living’:

My work is enabling people across the globe, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, economic status, age, differences in physical and/or intellectual ability, etc., to connect on a level playing field. With the only limiting factor being access to the Internet, Facebook is enabling people the whole world over to gain a sense of connection, a sense of community, a sense that they matter to others. People who are isolated and lonely due to geography and/or emotional challenges can find meaningful connection through Facebook. Families separated by financial and/or geographic barriers can stay connected or reconnect in a way they never thought passible. And the list goes on.

Expedia 

Expedia, an Internet travel company, earned the #16 seat on Glassdoor’s 50 Best Places to Work in 2016 list. Its employees value the company’s positive, upbeat work environment, generous benefits and salary structure and entrepreneurial spirit.

But, as with Facebook, these positive elements do not reflect Expedia’s heartbeat for its employees. Not each one in turn, or all of them together. By the same token, the heartbeat can’t be defined as the fact that Expedia’s easy-to-use search algorithm, real-time information, and intuitive, visually appealing user interface has played a key role in making the travel planning and payment process much easier for millions of people the whole world over.

One definition of Expedia’s heartbeat that may resonate strongly with its employees:

The manner in which the company’s – and each employee’s - work is raising awareness, increasing tourism and investment and, in turn, helping to strengthen the economic base and improve the lists of residents of low-income, often remote locales across the globe.

On a final note, there are often multiple ways to define and articulate a company’s heartbeat; there are multiple arteries feeding the heart, so to speak, with each one symbolizing a connection between the company’s work and Millennials’ (and all employees’) desire to make the world a better place. While one definition may resonate as the heartbeat for the company as a whole, individual employees and teams within the company may relate more to a different one. Thus, it is important to engage employees in the process of identifying and articulating the link between their work and making the world a better place.

What is the heartbeat of your company? Do your individual employees and teams feel there is a direct connection – a positive causal link – between the work of your company, and their work on a day-to-day basis, and making a difference in the world? Are they able to describe and share the heartbeat in a proud, passion-filled and readily accessible manner with their friends, family and community at large?


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