What does the word ‘millennial’ mean to you?
The Cambridge English dictionary refers simply to “a person who was born in the 1980s, 1990s, or early 2000s” although the example of the word in use is more revealing: “Millennials have grown up with the internet and can’t imagine a world without it.”
In practice, the word often elicits an eyeroll. For whatever reason, millennials get a bad rap – and nowhere is this more true than in the workplace.
The stereotype? Smartphone-obsessed, selfie-sharing social media addicts. Narcissists. Offended by everything. Lazy. Oh, and they live with (or is that live off?) their parents.
For the Baby Boomer generation – those born in the post-war generation between 1946 and 1964 and brought up to be independent, resilient, consumerist and optimistic – millennials are an easy target.
How much of this criticism is justified? Well, that’s a discussion for another day.
The question we really want to ask is this: how will the workplace need to change as millennials advance up the corporate ladder and into the Boardroom?
Take employee rewards and incentives, for example. Once upon a time, loyal service was rewarded with a carriage clock. A great sales quarter might merit a bottle of bubbly.
However, millennials value their health and rate experiences over material possessions. 29% of those aged 16-24 shun alcohol; a figure that is rising.
As natural documentarians – one survey claims that the average millennial will take 25,700 selfies over their lifetime – this demographic is, shall we say, appearance aware.
So how to reward them? With a gym membership? Botox? An avocado?!
In all seriousness, millennials are different to the generations which preceded them. More highly educated, but also saddled with debt. Less likely to own their own home and accustomed to dealing with financial instability. Less risk-averse, they’re also more likely to move from employer to employer.
Once upon a time, offering ‘a job for life’ was an attractive incentive for a potential employee. Nowadays, it’s deeply unappealing: a straitjacket rather than a bonus.
A recent study by Universum recently found that those in their 20s and 30s value work/life balance over money and status, and so offering flexible working or early finish Friday could be a way to secure their loyalty.
Short-lived fads like ping pong tables and beer fridges might initially entice younger staff, but it’s unlikely to make them stay.
Company culture is what matters, and surveys have shown time and time again that access to great quality training, opportunities to share their own skills and having their achievements acknowledged are amongst the top employment priorities for millennials.
MIllennials also aspire to working for companies with a social conscience, challenging those stereotypes of narcissism and self-obsession. 81% of millennials expect the companies they admire to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship.
It’s something we’ve had to think about ourselves as we’ve expanded our team, and back in January we wrote about our corporate values – values which include giving back to the community, investing in quality and ensuring that staff flexibility and autonomy is deeply ingrained in the fabric of our company.
When we think of the term ‘millennial’ it’s often synonymous with ‘young’, but the top end of the demographic is now hitting 40. By 2025, they’ll make up almost 75% of the workplace.
Perhaps we’d be better focusing on what they bring to the workplace – collaboration, adaptability, confidence and tech-savviness amongst other skills and attributes – rather than criticising them.
Looking for fresh talent to take your operation to the next level? We can support with every step of the process, from writing job descriptions that stand out of the crowd to interviewing and referencing.
Contact us today or call 0845 643 2615 today to speak directly to one of the team.