Millennial employees seek meaningful work and skill development
When the world is available on the palm of your hand, work and life take on bold overtones. This is the experience of Millennials, the world’s first “digital natives,” who grew up with the Internet and the smartphone. As Canadian journalist Morley Safer said, “The workplace has become a battlefield and the millennials have the upper hand, because they are tech-savvy, with every gadget imaginable almost becoming an extension of their bodies.”
Armed with knowledge and modern ideas, Millennials naturally have different expectations for their careers than the preceding Gen X and Baby Boomer generations. They believe workplaces should function differently and have firm ideas on the kind of positions they like to work in.
For instance, Millennials look for technology-friendly workplaces that give emphasis to digital communication platforms and tools that also make it easy to work remotely. Stemming from this is the fact that Millennials don’t believe they need to be constantly in an office to function in their jobs. In fact, they prefer to spend just over half of their work time in the office. Furthermore, while the 9-5 work day remains standard, Millennials seek opportunities that allow them to work when they’re most productive, which may even be in the middle of the night. Recent studies show that Millennials generally work over 45 hours a week, and are less likely to use all of their paid time off. Since they focus on getting into meaningful jobs, their work hours could extend well beyond the regular 9-5, for they believe in delivering results.
Millennials currently comprise 25% of the US population, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they will also be 75% of the country’s workforce by 2030. Added to this, as Washington DC’s Pew Research Center discovered, almost 10,000 Baby Boomers in the US retire every day. Thus, the Millennial perspective is gradually enfolding many workplaces.
As positions fall vacant, and recruiting strategies focus on Millennials, companies are realizing they have to adjust their work style to attract the growing millennial workforce. Many have already adopted business practices like open-concept workspaces, the “pick your own hours as long as the job gets done” mentality, and a laid-back workplace culture. But in order to retain talent, businesses are also engaging in a modern approach to training and development through the free skills matrix template, seeking to develop skills and training that earlier generations did not have. At the same time, they are keenly aware they need to create an environment that accommodates the unique needs and preferences of Millennials, not only in entry-level roles but also for managerial positions.
As LinkedIn’s latest Workplace Culture report states, nearly nine out of ten, or 86% of Millennials will consider taking a pay cut in order to work at a company whose mission and values align with their own. In comparison, only 9% of baby boomers would have done so because they gave greater weight to their paycheck.
Hiring managers have gradually learnt how to attract the talent and skills of Millennials who want to find meaning in their work. From the inception, they are seeking to learn about the mission of the company and its values, and how employees can make an impact through their work. They also seek a shortened hiring process and feedback about their performance, including when they don’t get the job.
While especially the Baby Boomers retired early to travel, most Millennials know they will have to work longer than the generations before them did. Globally, more than 50% of Millennials expect to work past 65 years. About 27% of them expect to work over 70 years, and 12% say they will probably work until they die.
This being so, Millennials seek new challenges and opportunities with their current employer, not with a new one. The problem appears to be they do not want to be in the same role for a long time. Two-thirds of employees said less than two years would likely be enough in one position, then they look for new challenges and portfolio-style jobs.
Eleanor Estes CEO of TPI Inc, one of the top IT and engineering recruiting firms in the U.S., believes that from the entry-level call center employee to upper management, people will work harder and be more engaged, if their employer values their contribution and recognizes them. She said, “When employees feel valued, collaborations take place, people are more engaged and your employee becomes a team member who is invested in the product.”
Author Mal Fletcher said, “Millennials expect to create a better future, using the collaborative power of digital technology.”
American businessman, Stephen Covey, said, “If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external.”
Millennial social media expert Crystal Kadakia said, “We thrive when we are pulled by the future, not pushed by the past.”