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How millennials are changing the workplace (#4 of 10) 

By  Henry Rose Lee

(This is Article #4 in a series of 10)

Of all the generations to concentrate on in the 2020s, one of the most important is Millennials.

Why? Because there are so many of them in our workplaces.

And they’re having a huge impact on how we work.

In both the US and UK, Millennials are 50% of the workforce. That will increase to 75% between 2025 and 2030. See  HERE

Their numbers, influence, and work attitude will increase in influence and impact. So get ahead of the curve now. Find out who they are, what they want, and how they deliver value as employees.

Who are millennials?

ONS and Pew Institute say Millennials are aged early 20s to late 30s. Born between 1981 and 1996, they’re not babies.

They’re highly active consumers. They have disposable income. They’re not saving as much for homes, pensions or other expensive outgoing as older generations.

They get married later, (around the age of 37), or don’t marry at all. They have kids later, have fewer kids or none at all.

They’re not getting on the property ladder quickly. It’s now tough to get affordable property, get a mortgage. It’s tough to make a down-payment.

Since the 2007/2008 recession wages have reduced and costs have soared. In the 2020s, that trend continues. When wages drop and costs increase savings are reduced, or stalled.

Millennials and money

Revolut is a UK fintech that offers online banking/card services. Their research shows 30% of Millennials are saving for a holiday, while 30% are saving for a house or part-ownership of a house.

10% say they can’t save anything at all. 32% fear they’ll always have to rent a property. For them, house-ownership is impossible. See https://blog.revolut.com/do-millennials-care-about-saving/

Put yourself in their shoes. Saving is tough; a house is unlikely so why not spend what you earn? With a mortgage, you think carefully about where you live and work. You must make the payments on your home. But without home ownership, you have more disposable income.

You have increased personal mobility. Life is easier. In the UK, circa 3.5 million (26%) of Millennials still live at home. So it’s easy to change jobs. See  https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/feb/08/million-more-young-adults-live-parents-uk-housing

Millennials and moving out of the city

The Covid crisis has produced one interesting phenomenon in the UK and US. Millennials are moving out of the big cities.

The Spring 2020 Realtor.com report indicates Millennials will buy the bulk of US real estate in 2020 and 2021. See https://www.realtor.com/research/2020-national-housing-forecast/

UK Estate Agents reports increased home sales in smaller urban towns, or rural regions.

If you now WFH or go to a workplace sporadically, you can live further away. You can live more cheaply in the country.

Makes sense. The air is cleaner. The housing is cheaper. The rents are lower. Your money goes just a little bit further.

What’s not to like?

So how do millennials show up at work?

There are many factors that impact how Millennials want to work. Here’s the top ten list:

1.            Mobility: More Millennials are living at home than ever before and have a high level of mobility. This has an impact on their sense of freedom. If a job is not working out, and moving on is quick and easy, then it’s more likely to happen. This tendency may increase as WFH becomes normal. If you work from anywhere you have more opportunities for other jobs.

2.            Global Opportunities: Global infrastructure (travel, media and comms) mean Millennials may live/work in different parts of the world. They’ve grown up with a sense of “the world is my oyster.” Social media simply intensifies that aspiration. You can do anything; you can go anywhere. Pre Covid, Millennials travelled (nationally/internationally) more than any other generation. This was for work, for play and for family. After Covid, it’s thought they’ll be the ones who travel the most again. See https://www.fueltravel.com/blog/fuel-covid-19-consumer-sentiment-study-volume-4-travelers-are-ready-especially-millennials/ They’ve still got wander lust.

3.            Leadership: Millennials want to become leaders. This could mean being a leader of their own business. This could be leadership in a company. Millennials don’t like the term manager or boss. It’s not just semantics. They want inclusion from their senior people, their execs and the people they work for. This means being treated transparently, collaboratively and equitably. Makes total sense to them. Inclusion and diversity are hot topics at work. Many Millennials have higher tolerance and awareness of culture, religion, gender etc., than older colleagues. For them, leadership must not be command and control. It must be a cooperative partnership, with two-way feedback, consultation and agreement. It must combine varied, regular communication. It must provide feedback, coaching and mentoring.

4.            Work/Life Balance: This was invented by Gen X (who rarely get it). Millennials demand Work/Life balance as a right. And why not? They don’t feel that they have to work to eat. That’s what older generations did. They don’t think that work is a 9 am to 5 pm affair. They’ll often work at evenings and weekends. That gives them time off for exercise or other important experiences and events.

5.            Lifelong learning: Millennials are aware that they may retire far later than older generations. So they know the value of continuous learning. They know that AI kill off some jobs and change the nature of others. file:///C:/Users/henry.lee/Documents/Henry%20April%202015/HL%20Docs/HL%20Docs/PROGRAMMES/AI/Accenture-Understanding-Machines-Explainable-AI.pdf Artificial intelligence won’t replace all human workers. It will complement and support some job roles. It will make others faster and more accurate. But it will require humans to learn, unlearn and relearn. Millennials have it right here. None of us can stand still at work. The constant pace of technological change will see to that.

6.            Ambition: Millennials demand rapid advancement and a chance to build careers at work. If this is slow, or it stalls, Millennials think about leaving. And, of course, the good ones always leave first. Older generations see this and label Millennials as weak, entitled snowflakes. It’s true that Millennials have fewer responsibilities and more work options in their 20s and 30s than older generations. That’s due to new technologies that didn’t exist for Boomers or Silents. Think about it. If there were no jobs to go to, and no start-ups with new tech, workers would stay put. So blame progress. With technological advances, huge job competition, open markets and lots of online work, Millennials have choices.

7.            Idealism: Corporates and companies call this Social Responsibility. When achieved, organisations use ethical frameworks to act for the good of employees, customers and society. And that’s why I call it idealism. It’s not easy to do everything for the greater good. when revenue & profits are vital. But it’s clear that Millennials want to make a tangible and positive difference. Both in their work and in their communities. They’re actively looking for organisations that offer volunteering opportunities and company-supported charities. They want companies to produce, distribute and sell in eco-friendly, green, caring ways. A 2014 survey indicated that two thirds of Millennials want to make the world a better place. Many believe the world of work can achieve this. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robasghar/2014/01/13/what-millennials-want-in-the-workplace-and-why-you-should-start-giving-it-to-them/#25d761c74c40  In 2014, Jamie Gutfreund, the Chief Marketing officer of research and marketing company, Noise, talked about Millennials as “venture consumers.” He said Millennials want money. But they also want to buy brands that have positive intentions for people and the planet. They want to invest time, energy and talents into organisations where they can create value and make a difference. These indicators hold true for Millennials even today. https://www.racked.com/2014/6/26/7590053/generation-millennials-online-shopping-e-commerce-elle-magazine-the

8.            Entrepreneurialism: The prize for entrepreneurialism goes to Gen Z. But the desire to be entrepreneurial started with Millennials. Millennials were the first to think about starting a businesses – often online. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordandaykin/2018/12/06/the-millennial-entrepreneur/#498ab4187c40  According to Inc.com, Millennials are digitally savvy. They use social media and the internet to build online business. This develops niche communities and a following of customers and fans. The top 20 most influential Millennial entrepreneurs today all created an internet-based service. This entrepreneurialism balances the desire for idealism and value within a commercial gap with a fulfilling job or business. For example, Mark Zuckerberg set up Facebook. That’s entrepreneurial. But he aims “ “To make the world more open and connected.” That’s idealism. Ben Silbermann established Pinterest in order to connect people to the most important things in their lives. And he wants to make money too.

Takeaway #1

For older generations, it may be tough to understand Millennials workers. To some, Millennials appear to be job-hopping light-weights. Yet, most simply have a different view of what it means to live and work today. They want a balance of personal satisfaction and good earning potential. Most want to do no harm at least. Or they want to deliver additional, positive benefits to the team, company and country where they work. So try to understand the point of view of your Millennials. You’ll gain their respect. You’ll also gain important clues about how best to motivate them and retain them.

Takeaway #2

Millennials want to combine the sense of ambition, mobility, and entrepreneurial thinking with global opportunities. They will leave a job if they’re not consulted, heard and valued. Aim to provide regular opportunities to give and get their feedback. Ask for their views and ideas. That will engage them. Their engagement will make them more be productive and high-performing in your organisation. Everyone wins.

Takeaway #3

Millennials want to achieve something and to make a difference. So give them a sense of always progress and momentum. You can do this via continuous learning. You don’t have to be a wealthy individual or a rich company to do this. Use older, more experienced staff with good communication skills. They can be trained to deliver in-house learning, coaching and mentoring. These are forms of continuous development to Millennials. They are not snowflakes. They are not weak, lazy or entitled. But they are demanding. They want freedom of movement and lots of job advancement. It’s about purpose and cause. It’s about mastery and opportunity. And all of these are surely of interest to every other generation too. However, it’s the Millennial generation that’s raised their heads, and made their voices at work heard. Don’t ignore that voice.

To find out about Generation Z in the workplace read “Generation Z, the youngest yet the most flexible of workers?”

About the author

Henry Rose Lee

Henry is a recognised authority on Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers in the workplace. She helps businesses to recruit, engage and retain their younger employees, and helps individuals to ignite their talents and carve out an outstanding career, whatever their age.

Through her keynote speeches, workshops and coaching, you will understand the evolution of leadership in what is sometimes called ‘the Shift Age’, so you can avoid common pitfalls and help your organisation (and yourself) to thrive.

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