Understanding How Millennials Are Changing The World Of Work

Jul 26, 2016 1 Min Read


And how employers should prepare themselves as the year 2020 draws near

Before we stereotype the millennials as disloyal, lazy and spoilt, we need to understand that times have changed.

Welcome to the 21st century workforce!

In a quantitative research done by Manpower Group across 25 countries involving 19,000 millennials, the Millennials Careers: 2020 Vision report which was released in May has made some recommendations for employers to attract, retain, develop and motivate the best of these young talents for the new global workforce.

But how different (or similar) are the millennials from the generations before them?

As how we serve our clients in a business environment, we always need to understand their needs and wants first before we can suggest our ideas, execute our plans or deliver our products to them.

Similarly, employers need to start recognising the needs (and wants) of the millennials before employers can look into how they can make certain adjustments to cater to these young and bright talents.

When it comes to the millennials in the workforce, we see several key behavioural traits.

1. They ride on career waves

A career ladder is a process designed to formally progress an employee to a higher level of job responsibility within one’s position. And this career ladder is now being replaced with career wave, a term used to describe how the millennials work hard, and play hard, too.

Technology is very much a part of our lives today, so we are no longer looking at work-life balance, but work-life integration. With mobile technology and 24/7 internet connectivity, the lines between our professional and personal lives are now blurred. This has contributed to employees reportedly working longer hours, with 73% of them clocking in more than 40 hours a week.

The fast-changing pace in the work environment has enabled millennials to diversify their skills by venturing into a few things at any one time.

Rather than having one job, the report states that millennials think about careers in waves with changing paths, pace and regular breaks. And speaking of regular breaks, four in 10 millennials are planning to take significant ‘pit stops’ for relaxation, travel and vacations to fulfill their “me, myself and I” time.

5 priorities by millennials

2. They are disruptive

The ‘Uberisation’ era is changing the face of business and our society in the way we do things. Things are no longer business as usual. This mindset of always wanting to effect change or disrupt the status quo is prevalent among the millennials as individuals look for their personal significance.

They are more adaptable and open to new ways of working. They are no longer conformed to traditional ways of working, but would consider freelance, gig work, portfolio careers and self-employment as alternatives. They also like to be challenged to think differently.

With this awareness, employers have to actively adjust and adopt alternative employment models and other customisable flexible work arrangements that is a ‘win-win’ for both sides.

3. They’re hungry for growth

The report found that 93% of millennials surveyed globally (including potential and high learners) want lifelong learning and are not hesitant to invest their own time and finances on further training.

They are hungry to learn because they strongly believe it will help them remain employable and attain long-term career success.

Job security is still critical for the millennials as how it was in generations past, but they have redefined it differently. It’s no longer the job that matters per se, but their journey of growth.

As long as they see opportunities to move on and move up within the organisation, they will continue with the same employer. Hence, it’s with intention that they stay loyal with the same organisation, else they would not be hesitant to ‘jump ship’.

What employers can do to engage the millennials

  • Provide frequent, face-to-face feedback to affirm their contribution.
  • Be a purpose-driven and socially responsible organisation by aligning the organisation’s values to the millennials.
  • Create opportunities for them to work on different stretch projects.
  • Understand their learnability potential and customise learnings that will drive them.
  • Adopt greater flexibility in where, when and how millennials work.

Food for thought

There is no doubt that the millennials are shaping the world of work and redefining the employer-employee relationship. They are driven by personal beliefs and purpose of their existence in the world they live in. Most have their eyes on their goals to make a dent in the universe and beyond.

With the insights provided by this report, employers can take baby steps to cater to the changing demands of working needs among these millennials who are shaping our future. Employers can start by creating a conducive culture for the millennials to blossom, grow and make a difference in their own special ways.

What’s in it for the millennials in your organisation? What are some key areas you’d like to focus on to continue to engage your millennials? Share with us your thoughts and ideas with editor@leaderonomics.com. To download the Manpower Group’s full report, click here. To engage with Leaderonomics for any of your organisational needs, please email us at training@leaderonomics.com. For more Starting Young articles, click here.



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Lay Hsuan was part of the content curation team for Leaderonomics.com, playing the role of a content gatekeeper as well as ensuring the integrity of stories that came in. She was an occasional writer for the team and was previously the caretaker for Leaderonomics social media channels. She is still happiest when you leave comments on the website, or subscribe to Leader's Digest, or share Leaderonomics content on social media.

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