The Cost of Avoiding the Millennial Mindset

Spend Matters welcomes this guest article by Rajiv Rios of GEP.

The millennial generation, of which I’m a member (and anyone born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s), is the fastest growing segment of the workforce today and will make up to 75% of it over the next 5 to 10 years. However, it might seem that things are not going so well.

The New York Post once questioned if millennials were the “worst generation” ever to be born. Forbes said millennials demanded “instant gratification” in the workplace, while USA Today noted it as a “pampered” and “high-maintenance” generation. Others have described millennials as entitled, indifferent, and unable to stay in one place for long. Others say millennials have strong ideas that should be heard, as well as an even stronger connection to trends, given their tech expertise and skills with social media.

It is a fact that millennials are increasingly hopping from one career to another. They look for a company that continuously innovates its processes, technologies and product offerings. Millennials want a job that allows them to make a change within their organization and doesn’t just give them a big paycheck for placing tedious purchase orders or entering numbers into a spreadsheet. If an organization can’t offer these incentives, millennials will take their talent elsewhere.

Opportunities to learn are also very important to millennials. Whether it’s a lateral move into a new division, relocations from the headquarters office to a manufacturing site or a service center, or a transfer to a different country, millennials are eager for the opportunity to move around under the same roof.

A study, conducted in 2013 by research firm Millennial Branding found that 87% of companies estimate the cost to replace a millennial employee to be between $15,000 and $25,000. Many companies are implementing new models and incentives to keep them around, but it is yet to be seen if these initiatives will actually have a positive outcome.

While it is true that millennials are restless and constantly looking for new experiences, it is important for them to understand that generational differences do exist. According to the generation expert Paul Angone, millennials need to know these 3 things to experience long-term career success in business:


  • Combine millennial strengths with old-school values. Combine your love for innovation, creativity, flexibility and meaning, with “time-tested” qualities like perseverance, grit, humility and service.
  • Be an apprentice. Learn what it means to be a good leader, by learning first how to support one. Earn your way into leadership positions, don’t expect and demand them.
  • Don’t die the death of validation. Success happens in the details that no one notices. If praise and recognition is your motivator for doing high quality work, you will rarely do any work that’s even worth praising.


As a millennial myself, I agree that the true challenge will lie in the willingness of multiple parties to learn from each other and align their objectives to those that benefit their organization. Only then will companies be able to avoid time and costs from the millennial mindset.

For more interesting thinking on procurement, visit the GEP Knowledge Portal.

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