If You Give A Millennial An Agile Cookie



Written By: Beth Outz

Remember the classic children’s book “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” where if you give a mouse a cookie, he will ask for a glass of milk. And if you give him a glass of milk, he will ask for a straw…and so on and so on? It was one of my favorite books growing up, and me, being me, always thought how selfish that mouse was! Can’t he just be happy with the dang cookie? He doesn’t need to have 15 other things to make him happy. But now that I’ve got 35 years under my belt and I’m considered “grown up” (mostly, I guess more physically than mentally) I feel like Millennials are considered the mouse in today’s work culture.  We’re never happy with what we have. We get one thing and we have to start asking for the next. But is that wrong? Are we asking too much of our employers or are we just being a selfish generation?

I stumbled upon a fantastic Forbes article talking about the workplace love language of Millennials and it got me thinking. Yes, we demand more. But I believe it’s because we saw how our parents and grandparents worked so hard for so many years to make ends meet while not always truly enjoying their workplace. They went in, did their job, and went home. They did the dang thing and I admire them for that. But as a Millennial, we want a workplace culture that we can thrive in. We want to engage with everyone and make friends, we want to share, we want to collaborate, we want to inspire others, and we want to learn from our older…ahem…wiser peers that have been around the track a time or two. We want to learn the old ways, but we also want to try out new things and take our own spin on how to improve them. So it’s funny when you take a step back and think about all of these things we want…the Millennial generation…we want to be Agile.

So I asked my new AI BFF (Best Friend Forever), ChatGPT, how Millennials are Agile in the workplace. By the way, if you are new to ChaptGPT, it is a tool driven by AI technology that allows you to have human-like conversations with a chatbot. The tool can answer questions and assist you with tasks such as composing emails, essays, and code. It’s totes cool. But anyways, this is what it told me: 

“Millennials, generally defined as those born between 1981 and 1996, are often described as digital natives who have grown up with technology and are comfortable with rapid change and disruption. As such, they may be more inclined to embrace business agility as a way of working that aligns with their values and preferences.”


So with that said, I combined both of our responses and came up with 5 core ways that Millennials may view business agility:

  1. Flexibility: Millennials often prioritize work-life balance and flexible work arrangements. We want the freedom to be our own boss with the guidance of a leader. Millennials see business agility as a way to work more flexibly and adapt to changes in the market or their personal lives. To put it simply, we just want to know we have agency over our own lives.


  2. Innovation: Many Millennials are interested in innovation and technology and see business agility as a way to experiment with new ideas and approaches. It makes perfect sense when you research why so many startup companies are created and driven by Millennials! Oh, hey there Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, yes…we’re talking about you.


  3. Collaboration: Millennials are often described as highly collaborative and interested in working in teams–teamwork makes the dream work, right? A collaborative work culture is one where team bonding is encouraged and mentors are crucial…we love a good mentor! Peer mentorship has been proven to increase workplace happiness and productivity among our generation. The even better news? Business agility emphasizes collaboration and cross-functional teams to provide that type of environment. Boom goes the Agile dynamite!


  4. Learning and growth: Millennials are often interested in personal and professional development. Boomers…I mean older people in the workforce… may call Millennials even flaky because we like to jump to new things, but that’s because we love to learn and take on new challenges.  Business agility leads the path for ways to learn new skills and certifications, and take on new challenges and roles.


  5. Purpose-driven:  This is probably the most important one.  Millennials want to know they bring value to the work they do. We are willing to put in the work (even long hours) as long as we feel we have a purpose.

    Millennials are the first demographic of employees to put effort and time into working toward our personal beliefs and values versus external drivers, such as money and wealth — not that money and wealth aren’t also important to us…we do enjoy a nice paycheck to go towards small things like mortgages, student loans, kids, groceries, etc. 

  6. The overarching theme is that Millennials, as a demographic, want more than a job. They want engagement, alignment with personal beliefs, corporate activism, and a chance to challenge the status quo. 

Of course, not all millennials will share these views and opinions on business agility (because we all know we know we like to test the limits and will most likely agree to disagree). These reasonings may also vary depending on individual experiences and preferences. However, these characteristics may provide some insight into how millennials may perceive business agility and its benefits.

So there you go, folks. The proof is in the pudding packs. Millennials are not just interested in free snacks in the vending machine (doesn’t hurt though…not going to lie),  group meditation at 10 and 2, and singing kumbayah together at the end of each meeting. Adapting an Agile mindset and incorporating the frameworks of business agility may just be the token to keeping your Millennial employees…and let’s be honest, your next set of leaders in the workforce…happy and engaged.  

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