Why hiring millennials could be good for business

April 6, 2015, 3:45 PM UTC
Photograph by William Vazquez

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What is one piece of advice all millennials should take before entering the workforce? is written by Sally Susman, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Pfizer.

According to the 2014 annual Deloitte Millennial (Generation Y) Survey, millennials are expected to become 75% of the global workforce in the next decade, meaning change in the workplace is inevitable. New technologies and evolving management philosophies are making organizations less hierarchical than before. So, what does this mean if you’re just beginning your career? As I tell our interns: your day job is your top priority, but seek out opportunities to add value in other ways. From my experience, there are a few areas where millennials can have an early impact on an organization:

Push the digital boundaries
Many millennials have digital and social media experiences that can help organizations build strong relationships online. At Pfizer, our speech is highly regulated, which means we have to be very thoughtful about how we communicate with patients and the general public. We created a digital initiative called Get Old that fosters a cross-generational dialog about aging, inviting people to share their “fears of getting old” (FOGO). Greater insight from millennials can help us connect online with people of all ages in ways that are, frankly, new and unexpected for our industry.

Find opportunities to give back
Work has broadly been categorized into three sectors: the private sector; the public sector; the social sector. Today, these lines are becoming less defined. Each of these sectors has an important role; however when they’re combined, they can have a powerful impact on people. The emergence of social investing may allow businesses to stretch market forces to reach people who need help. For example, Pfizer recently worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation to make contraception more easily available to women in remote areas of the world’s poorest countries. As a new generation entering the workforce without pre-set notions of traditional models, millennials can help shape corporate responsibility programs to move beyond charity and towards entrepreneurial models that benefit society.

Consider a position in corporate affairs
Years ago, corporate affairs either did not exist or was the responsibility of another department. Communications and media relations were considered part of marketing, and government relations was part of the legal department. Today’s corporate affairs has become a vital function of every business–both in decision making in the board room and in communicating with the public. Interfacing between the company and the public is sometimes fraught, but is also a dynamic intersection of business, government, and the media–an area that could benefit from millennial insight.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: What is one piece of advice all millennials should take before entering the workforce?

The perks of hiring a millennial by Gloria Cordes Larson, president of Bentley University.

How to build your personal brand at work by Debbie Messemer, managing partner at KPMG San Francisco.

3 human skills that robots can’t replace by Stacia Pierce, CEO of Ultimate Lifestyle Enterprises.

3 ways to be a team player at work by Julie Larson-Green, CXO of applications and services group at Microsoft.

Recent graduates: Why it’s okay to be unemployed after college by Maren Kate Donovan, CEO of Zirtual.

The downsides of technology in a hyper-connected world by Cheryl Cook, vice president of global channels and alliances at Dell.

The perfect job doesn’t exist, so focus on this instead by Erin Ganju, co-Founder and CEO of Room to Read.

Barbara Bush: How to find a mentor by Barbara Bush, co-founder of Global Health Corps.

What you can actually learn from getting fired by Gay Gaddis, CEO and founder of T3.

Why social media is a blessing (and a curse) by Pam Wickham, vice president of corporate affairs and communications at Raytheon Company.

The most important thing to consider when accepting a job offer by Lisa Donohue, CEO of Starcom USA.

6 key benefits of having a mentor by Carolyn Rodz, CEO of Market Mentor.

The myth behind climbing the corporate ladder by Shiza Shahid, co-founder and ambassador of Malala Fund.

The one word that will boost your career by Jennifer Steinmann, Chief Talent Officer of Deloitte.

6 ways to determine if you’re in the right career by Debby Hopkins, CEO at Citi Ventures.

There’s no such thing as a linear career path by Trish Lukasik, Senior Vice President of Sales at PepsiCo.

Want to succeed in your career? Get uncomfortable by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

Listen to your gut — it could make you CEO one day by Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Water.

Why millennials have the power to change the workplace — for good by Lauren Stiller Rikleen, President of Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership.

Why passion may not be enough to build a successful careerby Sarah Leary, co-founder and vice president of marketing and operations at Nextdoor.

How to build a career, not just a job by Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices Global Partnership.

Best lesson from your first job: discovering your weaknessesby Ann Marie Petach, Senior Managing Director of Solutions Group at BlackRock.

3 ways to get noticed at work by Liz Wiseman, President of Wiseman Group.

Can millennials revolutionize business? by Erica Dhawan, co-author of “Get Big Things Done” and CEO of Cotential.

Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez: My best career advice for millennials by Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of the Girl Scouts of America.

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