Millennials. You’ve either heard about them or you are one yourself. Anyone who came into the world between 1980 and 2000 (roughly) is deemed a millennial. Why do we keep hearing about this generation? What makes them (or us) so important to the workplace?
‘In 2015 Millennials overtook Baby-Boomers in population. They are now the largest generation in western history’. – Lucky Attitude
Even the youngest of Millennials are now of working age. PWC estimates that, ‘by 2020, Millennials will form 50% of the global workforce’. That’s a pretty big percentage and we’re approaching it every day.
What does this mean for the work environment?
We Encourage Open Communication
People make jokes that Millennials prefer online communication and would rather send a Facebook message than hold an actual conversation, but this just isn’t true – at least, not in the working environment. In fact, our regular use of social media means that we are a social generation, we like to know what’s happening and when. This extends to our working lives and could have a real impact on teamwork in the office. According to this survey, when asked, 39% of Millennial and Gen Z respondents said they preferred to communicate with co-workers in person. 32% of Millennials also claimed communication to be the most important quality in a leader. Basically, we value the ability to talk openly with our bosses and co-workers. A communicative workplace comes with clear benefits, including improvements in morale, productivity and efficiency.
We Value Flexible Working
Convenience and entitlement are also commonly associated with your everyday Millennial. Surely this attitude would negatively impact the working environment? Depends on how you look at it, really. Millennials appreciate businesses that accommodate employees and offer flexible working. Not everyone appreciates flexible working, nonetheless it comes with its own advantages. According to Business.com, ‘in a Bentley University study, 77 percent of Millennials said flexible work hours leads to more productive hours of work. And 89 percent of those Millennials said they check work emails after work hours, anyway.’ Millennials don’t feel the need to conform and work within that monotonous, rigid, 9-5 structure.
Are you still lacking faith in flexible working? Then consider this: NBC News reports that, ‘the optimal engagement boost occurs when employees spend 60 to 80 percent of their time — or three to four days in a five-day workweek — working off-site.’ Flexible working boosts employee morale, a benefit which leads to increased productivity.
Businesses that offer flexible working, and communicate this in job vacancies, are more likely to attract Millennial candidates. This may be a result of the fact that more people than ever are going to university in the UK – an accomplishment of the Millennial generation – which means that more people have already experienced flexible working while studying. Flexible working provides employee freedom, boosts employee morale and productivity, and opens up new opportunities for businesses – there are no logistical limits. It’s a change with the potential to completely reform the professional landscape.
We’re the New Faces of Professionalism
No, Millennials didn’t invent informality or the young entrepreunial mindset. We know that. But, we are changing the face of professionalism. How many TV programmes have you seen that mock the Millennial entrepreneur? You know one, he looks about 25, wears a beanie and Converse, plays with a Fidget Spinner, talks really quickly and has the attention span of a gnat? Although this is not a particularly complimentary stereotype, there is a grain of truth; working Millennials are not closed-minded. We have no singular preconception of professionalism or the working environment.
We’re consumers. We listen to music while we work. We regularly scroll social media, constantly and openly absorbing information. We look for ways to make things more convenient. Our approach doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate a nice suit or some formality every now and then. But it does mean we’re open to and excited by new ideas, an attitude we incorporate into our work.
We Keep Businesses On-Trend
Where do you go for your news? The TV? The newspaper? Or, do you use your smartphone? The majority of Millennials find out their news from social media platforms – shock horror. What’s so terrible about that? It’s constantly updated and it’s likely we’re already scrolling when something starts trending. But, what does this mean for businesses? Well, our social media addiction – and general dependency on the internet – means that Millennials are better at keeping businesses on-trend than previous generations. This could be through the incorporation of new technologies, assimilation of industry innovations, changes to company infrastructure and more. We’re open to suggestions and understand that the business landscape is always evolving.
Narcissistic and entitled may not seem like particularly desirable traits in a candidate but, they are associated with ambition. PWC reports that, ‘Career progression is the top priority for Millennials who expect to rise rapidly through the organisation. 52% said this was the main attraction in an employer, coming ahead of competitive salaries in second place (44%).’ The majority of Millennials prioritise their own self-satisfaction and achievements when seeking employment. We want to succeed and move up through the ranks, whether this is a result of our narcissism or desire for wealth. And how do you do this? You work hard, put in the hours and earn that promotion.
We’re Standing up to Injustice and Discrimination
We’re “woke”. Even I despise that phrase but it holds its own weight. We’re the snowflake generation. Of course, I’m not saying that we are, or should be offended by everything. That’s ridiculous. We do, however, understand the reality of workplace discrimination – and we’re unwilling to put up with it. Millennials see the inherent prejudice in simple discourse and everyday situations and we call attention to it. The Women’s March that occurred in January 2017 is a perfect example; Millennials were out in full force across the globe, which makes sense as the march was orchestrated on social media. The influx of Millennials in the working environment indicates that fewer and fewer companies will continue to get away with stereotyping or ‘positive discrimination’ practices.
We Incorporate Technology
You didn’t think I’d forgotten technology, did you? Of course not, technology is synonymous with Millennials. I mentioned earlier that we keep businesses on-trend and we’re always looking to make things more convenient. Consequently, we’re encouraging our bosses to use new technologies, if we think they will aid business development. Millennials have more confidence in technology than a lot of older generations and, as we’re taking up more room in the workplace, we’re effectively bridging that gap between our technophobic – or technologically hesitant – generational predecessors and business technology.
Perhaps you’ve read this and thought: “Of course, a Millennial talking about how great Millennials are. What a surprise.” I’m not arguing that Millennials are the best generation ever – every age bracket has its unique benefits and challenges. However, as with all generations, Millennials are aging and will soon dominate the workplace. We cannot then, ignore the reality that Millennials will change the professional landscape and that many of our traits – communicative, driven, technologically-enthused, open-minded, culturally aware, accustomed to convenience – suit the business mindset.