How to lead the next generation

Richard Branson visiting Virgin Media
Image from Virgin Mobile Colombia
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 10 October 2017

Ways of working and workplace culture have evolved and millennials coming into the workplace have very different expectations from their job than previous generations.

Younger employees don’t see their roles as jobs for life and will simply leave a company if it doesn’t match up to what they want. People are what have made Virgin what it is today and my philosophy has always been treat staff how you would want to be treated. Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.

Rigid corporate culture doesn’t inspire people to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions. You get a lot more done when you get rid of the formalities and hierarchies. I may have been knighted but I always prefer it when people call me Richard – leaders should be approachable and everyone should be treated the same. If you call your cleaner by their first name then you should also do the same for your CEO or founder.

Richard Branson posing with Virgin Australia stuff in airplane
Image by Virgin Australia

Staff turnover can be a drain on a business and it can help to look at what you’re giving people – would you be happy with what they’re getting?

In that spirit, we’ve always tried to do things a little differently at Virgin. We want to give our employees the freedom to be their best, most productive selves. At Virgin Management, we encourage flexible working and have policies such as unlimited leave. There is also no dress code – you won’t see a tie in sight at the Battleship Building (unless somebody wanted to – which unsurprisingly they don’t!) People should wear what they feel comfortable in to do their jobs. 

Richard Branson with Virgin Management employees in front of a cake to celebrate Virgin StartUp's 100th loan that they'd given out
Image by Owen Billcliff

The world of business may have changed a lot since we started Virgin but our core values have stayed the same. We encourage ideas, innovation, disruption and creativity at work – and of course a little play.

Most people just want to be trusted to do their jobs and if you give them this freedom, they usually do them very well. Does this all sound to good to be true? It isn’t – head over to our careers page to find out more about what we do.