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What is a Millennial?

September 24, 2014

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Millennials, the generation born from 1982-1995, are quickly filling the ranks of organizations as the boomer generation retires from the workforce. In fact, millennials will comprise 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. Because of the millennials’ sheer size, they will have a considerable amount of power within the workforce. Organizations will want to understand the millennial generation in order to leverage this power.

Millennials have very different needs and expectations than their previous generations. An organization’s capacity to meet these expectations directly correlates to the satisfaction and engagement levels of the millennials in the workforce—which in turn leads to higher productivity in the millennial generation. Organizations recognize that higher productivity of their employees leads to greater results for the organization. Understanding the millennial generation’s needs and expectations will be vital to an organization’s success. The way employers respond to the millennials will determine whether they can tap this hidden powerhouse of potential, or lose the millennials to their competition. If an organization wants to gain the most productivity from the millennial generation, they must first understand them.

Millennials have grown up in a different time and have had different experiences than previous generations—which has led the millennials to value different things in the workforce. For instance, millennials watched their parents work long hours, sacrifice family time, and give all they had to their employers—only to see them get laid off during the recent recession. Because of this, millennials tend to want and expect a better work-life balance than previous generations.

A recent study conducted by PriceWaterhouseCooper found that 71 percent of millennials are unconvinced that excessive work demands are worth the sacrifices to their personal lives—even with the promise of substantial compensation later on. Also, millennials are eager for more flexibility. About 64 percent would like to occasionally work from home, and 66 percent would like to shift their work hours. These numbers are considerably lower in previous generations who felt that actually being at work and in the office was a way to prove themselves to their bosses and demonstrate they are ready to take on more responsibility. The previous generations identified themselves by their career and their salary; millennials do not.

The millennials do not correlate successful careers as a basis to successful lives, and therefore do not prefer to work long hours as did their predecessors. For example, the boomer generation is depicted as having routinely sacrificed on behalf of the firm by working 55- to 60-hour weeks, as well as frequently advising young coworkers to work hard, demonstrate their dedication, and patiently wait their turn for promotions . Millennials, on the other hand, value performance over loyalty and expect quick promotions if they perform well. Millennials are not waiting years to reach the next rung up on the corporate ladder. If a millennial is unsatisfied with the progression of his/her career, they leave and seek opportunity elsewhere. Organizations are quickly learning that the traditional ways of engaging their workforce no longer apply.

One of the biggest changes organizations are witnessing is the demise of the notion of tenure. The previous generations tended to value security above all else in their careers. Organizations understood this about their employees and knew that by offering a certain degree of security to the employee, they would receive a long tenure in return. The millennials have a different perspective. Millennials are the most educated generation to enter the workforce. Millennials have about twice the college credentials than their predecessors. Because of this, millennials feel they can be selective of where they work—a luxury that many from the previous generations did not feel they had. This empowerment affords millennials the confidence to “hop,” meaning to change jobs frequently, much more often than any other generation before them.

Do you want to learn more about millennials? Contact [email protected] or check back next week to learn about how to understand them and how you can make this new generation work for you.

tboyer KPA Tami Boyer is a Sr. HR Client Advocate for KPA’s HR Management product line. Tami is a veteran of the United States Army and has previously worked as an HR Manager for Department of Defense contractors. Tami is PHR certified and has a Master’s Degree in Human Capital Management from the University of Denver.

Posted in: Human Resources Management, Millenials in the Workforce Tags: Change, Employees, Job, Market, Millennial