What’s the first word you think of when you hear “millennial”? Entitled? Lazy? Narcissistic? Creative? Entrepreneurial? Innovative? Millennials are the most studied group in recorded history. The US Bureau of Labour Statistics announced that millennials will make up 75% of their labour force by 2030 and a TIME report in May recorded that 53.5m millennials make up the largest generation in the US workforce. Although every new generation differs from the last, research has found that millennials are very different from any other, specifically in how they approach the workplace. When harnessed correctly, they can be a very powerful force for growth in any organisation.
We spoke to 5 spoke millennials to get their perspective on what makes them tick in the workplace. Here’s some thoughts on what companies need to understand to more effectively harness millennials in their workplace:
“We are a more curious generation, looking for the workplace which stimulates all of our skills, trains us to learn more, gives us flexibility, champions accelerated career progression and, ultimately, enables us to live the lifestyle that we want.” Olivia, 26.
2. Millennials have different expectations. They want to work somewhere where they can make an impact, make a difference and even “change the world”. They want management responsibilities from day 1.
“I’m interested in working for companies who make a large scale impact and ideally, where I feel I’m part of making a difference. I’m currently working for MassChallenge UK which is the world’s largest start-up accelerator, we don’t take equity from the start-ups on the cohort and so far we have supported 835 start-ups over the last 5 years who have gone on to raise $1.1bn collectively. I feel proud to work for a company that supports today’s high impact entrepreneurs, as these people are the drivers for job creation and economy growth.” Jenny, 24.
3. They want managers who they can relate to as equals and be respected, not a traditional boss-subordinate relationship. Millennials are more inclined to collaborate to reach their goals.
“I want a partnership – not only with the peers on my team, but also with those who teach and direct me. I believe that this is the way that we can achieve true cohesion, creating the perfect foundation for all millennials to thrive and be happy in the workplace.” Maddy, 27.
“The ‘leader’ in my current role is highly imaginative and entrusts a lot of responsibility on myself and the rest of the team. We are entrusted to put together the processes to bring his vision and creative ideas to life. It’s key to driving the success of the business.” Rosie, 23.
4. They have a different view on work-based incentives, it’s not just about salary and a cash bonus. They want to know that their compensation is not limited by any factor other than their own performance.
“The promise of travel and opportunity for flexible working, in terms of hours and location.” Rebecca, 24.
“I want to be part of a company that understands that I might need to work from home one day, and that I can be trusted to get everything done.” Maddy, 27.
Gone is the assumption that if you have an education, you will get a job. It’s more difficult for millennials to obtain roles after education, as jobs become automated and older generations retire later and as such, jobs are not opening up at entry level. Entrepreneurialism has become a mind-set for millennials. They scratch their own itch and create their own solutions to their problems. Innovation is key in a world where everyone is creative and where the innovators of today can be upended by tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.
“60% of recent graduates in the UK consider themselves to be underemployed, meaning that they work in a job that doesn’t require their degree. Nearly half of all graduates would prefer a mid to small sized company, with only 21% preferring to work in a large corporation. The old principles of ‘work’ are being replaced by new expectations: we want to LOVE what we do, work where we make a difference, something that we’re passionate about, so we launched TalentRocket.” Chris, Founder and CEO of TalentRocket, a recruitment agency that helps millennials become involved with start-ups, with the main emphasis on cultural fit.
The digital age combined with difficult economic times has both forced and enabled millennials to be more inventive, innovative, adaptable, tech savvy and entrepreneurial. They can break down barriers and change the world where the rate of progress and innovation might leave those less malleable behind. It is crucial that companies who wish to thrive embrace millennials and learn to can harness their desire to own projects, be flexible, be challenged, be rewarded for their own work and be in an environment which fosters continual innovation and creativity.