Members of older generations have had a lot to say about millennials, and millennials have provided them with plenty of rebuttals. From the older generation’s corner, accusations of laziness and entitlement fly, while millennials insist that poor economic conditions and inflation have made success nearly impossible for their generation. But neither of these perspectives focuses on the positive changes millennials have brought to the workforce, and to the world. In reality, an incredibly positive revolution is happening just below the surface – and while millennials are getting flack now, they are simultaneously paving the way for a more innovative career culture in the future.
One of the common reasons older generations view millennials as fickle and lacking in dedication is because they are much less likely to stick with one employer throughout their lives. In fact, a 2008 study showed that 75% of millennial participants expected to have between 2 and 5 employers in their lifetime. In a more recent assessment, more than one-quarter of millennials said they expected to have 6 employers or more.
From the surface, this might appear fickle – why so much change? But one can also interpret this trend as enhanced focus, rather than a lack thereof. Millennials are well-aware of when they outgrow a position, and will quickly move along to a new role that better suits them. Also, millennials are the most underemployed generation, struggling in jobs that don’t pay the bills and that fall far below their level of expertise. In this case, continued career upgrades are not only smart but financially necessary – especially for those that plan to get married and have children.
Brands With Values
Gone are the days when corporations could act on questionable ethics and get away with it. Nowadays, corporate scandals go straight to social media, sometimes even going viral within hours. Millennials strive for careers with “purpose,” not ones in which they will be spinning their wheels or making unethical decisions just to avoid being fired. In a Brand Amplitude poll, 75% of millennials claimed businesses should impact society in a positive way, along with creating jobs and profit. Thus, millennials have taken a special interest in social enterprise and sustainable business.
Not only are millennials doing things differently, but they are also more numerous, intensifying their impact on modern businesses. According to a report by PwC, “Millennials make up 25% of the workforce in the US and account for over half of the population in India. By 2020, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce.” For this reason, companies who are hiring millennials would be wise to have strong brand values, and most importantly, ensure that they embody those values in their actions.
Millennials are an individualistic generation, valuing personal growth and skill-building over job security. They are not tied to the idea of obtaining a fixed, specific role – such as becoming an accountant at a top bank. Rather, they are interested in finding a job that fits them. Perhaps this is why one poll found that “71% of American adults think of millennials as “selfish.” But does making work-life balance a priority equate to selfishness? Or rather, is it an indication that millennials have standards and goals for how they want to live their lives?
Offering opportunities to learn, grow, and experience new things is another smart choice for modern companies that want to attract and retain millennials. A Business Insider survey showed that nearly 20% of millennials polled named Google as their ideal employer – a higher percentage than both Apple (13%) and Facebook (9%). It is no coincidence that Google offers paid maternity leave for parents, tuition reimbursement, and paid vacation. Thus millennials have clearly indicated that they are willing to be productive and dedicated to a company that helps them achieve work-life balance.
Dubbed “creative disrupters” in a 2015 Bank of America study, millennial influence is expected to grow as other generations diminish. The challenge for millennials will be to manage technology without letting it overtake them, along with managing the stress that inevitably comes with a technology-driven, fast-paced work environment.
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