Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Emma Miller – a Sydney-based writer and contributor at Bizzmark blog. Her opinions are her own.
The time of the millennial has come. Consequently, the way we do business has also changed. This might be seen as a dramatic overstatement or a cheap hook. The fact that millennials are now the most numerous generation in the US means that it will definitely reshape the existing norms of work and lifestyle. For this reason, today more and more employers are urged to start following these new business trends and adapt accordingly.
So, what is so special about this new generation born between 1980 and 1996? And, what differentiates them from, say, Gen X-ers or their parents?
If we look at Gallup’s latest report on the work and life habits of the millennial generation, they are at the forefront when it comes to changing jobs. A recent research paper published by HBR quotes that a fifth of surveyed millennials changed jobs in 2015 to do something else, be it labor or education.
Now, this might seem to be in line with a common belief that millennials are a bunch of needy narcissistic brats who are known for relentless job-hopping. This might be true if one looks solely at data, such as Deloitte’s analysis, which shows that two-thirds of all millennials plan on changing jobs by 2020.
But, taking into consideration a broader picture of job tenure trends, it is interesting to see that young Americans are just as likely to change jobs as those in the 1980s. The reason this generation is picked over others with regard to job culture lies somewhere between their own preferences and the general market dynamics.
Goldman Sachs recently pointed out a fact that around 30% of millennials aren’t interested in having a car, while 60% of them are not interested in owning homes, but are rather interested in renting houses. This trend can be put down to the fact that young people are simply more interested in Uber than car ownership, as the former option doesn’t entail gas or maintenance costs. What these analyses often neglect is that young people these days are burdened with an overwhelming feeling of financial insecurity which hampers their personal growth.
Material compensation is often not on the top of the list of the millennials’ needs. To that end, some studies show that other factors, such as flexible work hours make up for lower wages in this generational stratum. However, in an era of economic crisis, where student debt and living costs are on the rise, the evidence shows that 50% of all millennials would change their jobs if they could get a 20% increase in pay.
The willingness of young people to change jobs in a difficult economy often might seem like a threat to the survival of many businesses, but as with all things, it can present an excellent opportunity for employers to attract new talent by enhancing their business practices.
According to Eventbrite, almost 80% of all millennials would choose a new experience over purchasing something valuable. Even though it may seem unrelated to the workplace dynamics, it is a key quality of the generation – they are “shopping” for experience and they look for new experiences everywhere. Given that they look for work which matches their lifestyle, it is up to employers to make job offers attractive and make it easy for potential employees to choose them over others.
This is why management that excels is even more important than ever. Millennials see their role at work as an opportunity for personal and professional growth and find that it is management’s duty to enable it. This does not mean that millennials are radically different, it just goes in line with their age.
The prevailing wisdom in any form of management is that a happy worker will work harder, and millennials are not any different. However, millennials express this need differently than previous generations would do. Gen X-ers brought with them the casual Fridays, for millennials this is creative teamwork and flexible work hours. Their approach to society is different as well, where the Greatest Generation saw community over the individual, millennials see personal needs over those of the organization. For this exact reason, millennials dislike the corporate work culture and rather turn to varied work experiences and chances for rapid progression.
This is why big players such as Google, an innovative employer in its own right, focus on listening for and adapting to the needs of millennials in order to retain and draw as much great young talent around as possible.
Millennials are a powerful generation in the making, and not just by judging solely from the number of university admissions globally, but also because of a specific skill set that no other generation has. Being born during the time of the digital revolution, growing up with perks, such as broadband, smartphones, and social networks, gives them an edge of having the right skill at a perfect time when they are in high demand.
For this reason, every employer who plans ahead should think about what motivates millennials and should attempt to find a balance between comfort and work. Substantial research has shown that, while they are a bit different, there is no real difference between the expectations of millennials compared to other generations – they want great leaders, opportunities for growth and meaningful work.
With millennials predicted to take over 50% of the workforce globally by 2020, the ability to retain such talent will soon become essential for achieving business success.
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