Stop Bagging the Millennials
(they may be on to something)….

Hoe to keep millennials interested in the workplace

Millennials….geez these guys get a bit of a bad wrap, and to be honest it is often from my generation (Gen x – the older end). The comments are mostly sweeping generalisations and can sound a little jealous. But when you step back they could be on to something, and quite frankly I think that they are.

They have grown up with technology, we all know that this generation are more tech savvy than any other. But they have also grown up in a more globalised world that has been full of turmoil. Terrorism wasn’t even in our vocabulary growing up. They have also seen more Prime Ministers and watched their parents go through one of the worst economic times with the GFC. This generation is certainly not saying “I’ll have what she’s having”, they are saying, “no thanks, there has to be a better way”. And they are driving that change.

They are also the most-educated generation. In 2011, 52 per cent of young adults (18 to 34 years) had a non-school qualification and 26 per cent held a bachelor degree or higher qualification. Go back 35 years to 1976 and only 30 per cent in the same age group had a non-school qualification and just 5 per cent held a bachelor degree or higher qualification. They are a generation full of talent. But where are they?

A recent segment on the SBS called Meet the Millennial Mentors was around the boom in Millennial Life Coaching. It showed several 20 something “Life Coaches” and how they are killing it in this space. Whilst I may have had a little judgey eye roll, there is a deeper message in this. Here are 20 something’s carving out a career for themselves. Their clients are other 20 something’s and in some cases women in their 40’s also seeking out a better way. Why? One of the coaches summed it up perfectly, the current structure of working isn’t appealing, it just doesn’t suit them. They want to have more flexibility, they want to be coached and mentored they don’t want to have a “boss”. They want projects, not tasks and most of all they want to feel valued. They want to do work, not go to work.

I believe that corporate Australia is currently in a talent crisis. With Gen Xers (like me) leaving corporate as there is little flexibility around how we work and Millennials not seeing the corporate career as aspirational as it once was, what we are left with is this growing freelance economy. Freelancers that are paving the way for how they want to do work rather than just go to work

With the projections that millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2020 and then Gen Z our true digital natives following up behind them why do we need the cubicle? And why do we need it with the current technology at our disposal? Surely all these experienced, talented and educated Gen Xers and Millennials could be lured back (or into) corporate if it made sense to their lifestyle. Who is going to mentor these Millennials if there are no Gen Xers left and what will happen for the Gen Z’s.

Remote and Distributed teams, telecommuting, flexible work, call it what you will. It’s not about mums we’ve gone way past that. It’s become a bigger picture affecting more people. Because quite simply sitting in traffic, to sit in a cubicle just doesn’t make sense anymore, not just for mums, for anyone.

“Millennials want what every generation that has come before them wants. The only difference is that Millennials are the first generation with the guts to ask for it and to expect it”. Says Simon Sinek who has an enlightening 10 minute speaking clip which clearly defines why. He says “Give people a reason to come to work, not just a place to go to work. The reason Millennials are using their employers is because their employers are using them. It’s not that they want to leave, they simply don’t have a good reason to stay.

A study done by MBA@UNC revealed that Millennials are motivated by more than money. They found that 1 in 3 Millennials said that he/she would prioritize social media freedom, device flexibility and work mobility over salary in accepting a job offer.

Gen Y In the Workplace Via MBA@UNC
Via MBA@UNC:Online Business Degree & The YEC

They also found that 71% of Millennials would like to work abroad. Now, when I was in my 20’s I too wanted to work abroad and travel, so I quite my job and off I went. Why does this have to be the case now? The talent pool can be so much deeper if we just implemented the flexibility along with the technology that this generation is so adept at using.

Flexibility is not about work life balance it’s about integration and nurturing the intrapreneurs. It’s up to us to change that, and the time to change that is now.