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Are Millennials our new founders?

Today's post is contributed by Joyce Maroney, executive director of the Workforce Institute at Kronos.

I love the 4th of July.  The weather is usually conducive to being outside.  BBQ and lobsters to eat.  And although the dogs will hate them, it's always fun to watch the fireworks.  My parents got married on the 4th, so it's always been a date that signified the founding of our family as well as the founding of our country.  Although we spent our summers in Canada when I was growing up, we always celebrated the 4th in style.

I wonder what the Founding Fathers would think if they could be here now.  Would they be surprised that there is still such heated dispute about what is best for America?  Probably not.  The early days of America were rife with conflicts and name calling according to the author Ron Chernow.  What kept them committed to working together was a commitment to not remaining under the foot of the British monarchy.

Fast forward two hundred plus years, and a different sort of revolution has been brewing in the workplace.  According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials are the single biggest cohort in the US workforce.  At twenty-two to thirty-seven years old, they are starting careers, having families, and increasingly entering the ranks of management.  They've been raised by Gen X and Boomer parents who drove incremental changes in the workplace as they tested the hierarchical and mostly male organizations they worked for.  They expect that they can create the life they want, including work, vs. squeezing themselves into the box required by the job.

Societal changes don't happen quickly, even when we look back at them through the lens of major milestones.  Women can vote! (1920).  Women should be paid the same for doing the same work as a man! (1963 and still contentious). When the Founders met in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention, over 160 years had passed since the Puritan pilgrims had landed at Plymouth.  Over a decade had passed since the Declaration of Independence from the British monarchy.  The Emancipation Proclamation and the vote for women were still distant pipe dreams.

Thirty years ago, my working mother peers and I generally sought to maintain the fiction that we needed no special accommodations to manage both our children and our jobs.  Because of course, a man wouldn't ask for that.  I still smile when I get an email from a (generally Millennial) male colleague who is announcing to the rest of the team that he needs to work from home to take care of his sick child.

Last week, Kronos was named a Fortune Best Workplace for Millennials for the first time.  This recognition rewards organizations for unique and innovative cultures that help attract and retain Millennials. The ranking considered survey responses from more than 434,000 employees from Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies, focusing on pride in the company's community impact, access to meaningful work, fair pay, and plans for a future with their organization.

Kronos has numerous innovative programs and benefits that are meaningful for younger employees, including being one of only four percent of companies that offer student loan repayment assistance; our open paid time off policy that is available to all Kronites regardless of tenure or title; fully paid parental leave for new moms and dads, including parents of adopted children; childcare and adoption financial assistance; and our Manager Effectiveness Index people manager development program.

I'm proud that Kronos won this recognition as a result of having the vision and will to invest in a culture that will attract and retain the workers we need.  The Founders knew that declaring independence was only the beginning for our new country.  Millennial leaders are likewise going to need to continue the hard work of demanding workplaces that acknowledge their lives - and their value - outside of their workplace labors.





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