The Pros and Cons of Millennials Taking Over The Funeral Profession

There are a lot of changes on the horizon for the funeral profession.

Families as we’ve always known and served them are changing, in their values and in their funeral service requests. Cremation is rising at an even faster rate than many out there predicted. And even we, funeral service veterans, are transitioning out as the dominant force in the funeral profession.

It’s true — the Millennial Generation is now the largest generation in the workplace. And by 2025 (that’s just eight years away), 3 out of every 4 workers globally will be Millennials. Talk about the power of change! This one generation may single-handedly reinvent and redefine the workforce as we know it… including what the future of success looks like in the funeral profession.

So what does your funeral home need to know today about how to work and succeed alongside this younger generation? Namely, the pros and cons that they can bring to your business… starting right now.

PRO: They’re Throwing Hierarchy To The Curb

Most traditional businesses are built on multi-levels of management and hierarchy. You don’t give feedback to your CEO. You talk to your manager, who talks to their boss, who relays it to the Vice President, who sends it in an email to the CEO. But if Millennials had it their way, they would throw management positions out the window and create their own version of leadership.

While throwing out hierarchy may seem like a scary notion to traditionalists everywhere, it shouldn’t be. This is a challenge for every staff member in your funeral home to step up and show leadership qualities. Millennials will look to people on your team who make smart decisions, offer useful guidance, and show strong leadership qualities when it comes to advice. This shift in hierarchy will help separate the leaders from the doers once and for all.

CON: They Don’t Mind Jumping Jobs

For those of us deeply rooted in the profession, funeral service has always been more of a lifetime career of service than a job. Many of us followed in the footsteps of family when choosing this career path, and some even work in the same funeral home that their father or grandfather worked in for 30 years. But millennials don’t feel this same sort of loyalty to their employers or family business as the generations before them.

The average tenure of a Millennial employee is only two years, compared for five years for Gen X employees and seven years for Baby Boomers. And over a quarter of Millennials expect to have six employers or more in their lifetime, compared to just 10% in 2008.

So what does this mean for funeral homes looking to build a staff of loyal, driven employees? It’s time to start implementing and rewarding the things that matter to Millennials. Which brings us to our next point…

PRO: They’re Focusing on Collaboration

One thing that today’s generation values more so than any other that have come before them is openness, collaboration and transparency… across every aspect of business. They don’t want to wait six months or a year to get feedback about their performance. They want it on the spot, from their managers, their customers and even their peers. They don’t believe in keeping feedback secretive… they know that open, honest conversation is what breeds change in business. And this should be infectious when it comes to igniting successful performance within your funeral home.

Openness and collaboration are also wonderful traits to bring into any service-based business. In the funeral profession specifically, it’s the cornerstone of building authentic and honest relationships with the families that you serve. This is because Millennials approach every conversation as a collaboration. They won’t focus on telling families what they should do or what is appropriate. They will sit down with them, have a conversation, and figure it out together.

CON: They Question Everything… Even Job Roles

Working in funeral service has never been the traditional ‘come in at 9am, only do what is asked of you, then clock out at 5pm’ kind of profession. But Millennials are questioning traditional job roles even further, and constantly questioning what is asked of them. Telling them to do something simply “because it’s your job” isn’t going to cut it with this new generation.

But while questioning everything may seem frustrating to many older generations who have a set way of doing things, their intentions are actually in the right place. It’s not that Millennials don’t want to put in the grunt work or sit behind a desk all day… they just want to make sure that there is purpose to everything that they are doing, and if there’s not, they want to find a way to put more meaning into their actions.

“Most workers, many of whom are millennials, approach a role and a company with a highly defined set of expectations,” cited a NBC News survey. “They want their work to have meaning and purpose. They want to use their talents and strengths to do what they do best every day. They want to learn and develop. They want their job to fit their life.”

So don’t just tell Millennials to do a task because it’s part of their job description. Explain to them the importance behind it and how it affects a family’s overall experience. They will put much more passion into their work if they know this information up front.

PRO: They’re Completely Digital

It’s no secret that everything is moving online these days. Even in the funeral profession, things like pre-planning and obituary writing that were always done in-person are moving onto our families computer screens. But for Millennials, digital is how things have always been.

They are the first generation that have had access to technology their whole lives, and because of this, they know better than anyone the best ways to cut through clutter, be more productive and be as efficient as possible with their time… because they’ve been using online apps and services their whole life that have shown them how to work smarter and faster. In a profession where there are never enough hours in the day, this knowledge is something that all funeral professionals desperately need… so take notes!

CON: They Have An Opinion… About Pretty Much Everything

A lot of older generations like to dog on Millennials, saying that they are entitled or think they know it all. And while that’s untrue right out of the gates — there is a certain level of unmatched expertise that comes with working in a profession for 20-30 years — Millennials are the most educated generation in American history.

Over 63% of Millennials have a bachelor’s degree, which means that many who are entering the workplace (or already in it) have a lot of knowledge and information that they’re excited to share. But don’t let their eagerness rub you the wrong way, or think that they are discounting your years of hands-on experience. Simply give them an outlet where their ideas and opinions can be heard… because they do have good ones! For example, a monthly brainstorm meeting on how to innovate your products or services, or a weekly feedback tool like 15Five that allows them to submit ideas for workplace improvement, without the disruption of more meetings every week.

Also be sure to give your opinion right back to them… they want it! Give them feedback, tell them why you do things a certain way, walk them through your ideas for the future. You may be surprised what melding of the minds can do for the success of your business.


What have YOU seen to be the pros and cons of the Millennial workforce takeover, specifically in the funeral profession? We want to hear your opinions. Share them with us in the comments below!

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