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The millennial workforce

For the past decade, the millennial labor force has grown in numbers and influence. Just last year, the Pew Research Center revealed that millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. Reuters says they are more tech-savvy and adaptable compared to previous generations. They’re also more diverse, confident, and educated than those that came before them.

But employers and media outlets tell a different story. For previous generations, millennials are considered lazy, spoiled or entitled. Millennials (they say) are too reliant on technology, whether it’s using Google to search for everything, or social media for instant gratification.

As a result, businesses either turn millennials away or fail to realize their full potential. In this post, we’ll cover what you need to know about the millennial workforce and how to best incorporate the younger generation your business.


Advantages of working with millennials


Millennials are entrepreneurial

From affordable workspaces to online networking groups, millennials are more prepared to start their own business compared to the previous generation. It’s not uncommon to see ideas that start in the college dorm blossom into a more serious startup. In fact, that’s how some of the biggest companies started, including Facebook, Dropbox, Microsoft, Snapchat, and Google. And when millennials don’t choose the startup route, they’re working as freelancers and contractors instead of working for larger corporations.


Millennials bring a fresh perspective

When it comes to company culture or even something smaller like the imagery on a website, Many businesses are used to a certain way of doing things. Hiring younger employees will not only contribute to a more diverse team but will result in new insights and updated practices. For example, if the product is intended to be marketed towards the millennial crowd, then a millennial employee may be able to assist in better understanding the customer’s needs and wants.


Millennials are technologically literate

Millennials are used to being the go-to tech support representatives in their families, helping parents, and older family members set up their new laptop or sign up for a service. Members of this generation were born during the early days of the Internet, and many were raised on social networks and smartphones. Even if the millennial hire isn’t a computer science major, there’s a good chance that they can quickly pick up and learn just about any software or app.


Millennials are the most optimistic generation

Despite having unprecedented levels of student debt, poverty, and unemployment, millennials continue to have an optimistic outlook of the future. In Pew’s study, eight in ten said that they have enough money to live the life they want or expect it in the near future.


Creating the ideal workplace for millennials

So what do millennials want from their workplace? How do you motivate a millennial? The answer may not always be straightforward or apply to everyone, but there are few common traits between the businesses that millennials prefer:


Work-life balance and flexibility

Newer generations don’t want to be tied to a cubicle, counting the hours down until the end of the day. They want to work from home, set their own hours, and work in open or shared office spaces. In the aforementioned Deloitte survey, 55% planned to stay an additional five years after witnessing their company become more flexible in the past three years. In contrast, only 17% planned to stay five years when their company became less flexible in the past three years.


Personal development over pay

For millennials, a positive and engaging workplace can be more important than a high-paying salary. According to a survey by Fidelity, 25-35-year-olds are willing to give up an average of $7,600 in pay to work somewhere that places a higher value on work-life balance and personal development. So while competitive salaries and benefits are important, providing the younger generation a chance to take ownership of their work and hone their skill sets is key.


Socially conscious company culture

Culture is everything to the millennial generation. It’s important to create a workplace that both welcomes the younger generation and contributes to society as a whole. That might translate as a partnership with a charitable organization, volunteer programs, or eco-friendly policies. Benefits like profit sharing, health insurance, and parental leave policies can also be important factors. Many millennials are in debt because of student loans, so offering some tuition reimbursement can be a life-changing opportunity.


Diversity and collaboration

Millennials are officially the most diverse generation, largely because of Asian and Latino immigrants. This generation mostly grew up in integrated schools and connected through social media, so they have greater exposure to people of different races, ethnicities, genders, religions, and lifestyles. Companies should seek to create opportunities for people of different backgrounds to work and collaborate together. In the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 69% of millennials said they will stay beyond five years at a diverse organization.


Hiring a millennial

While millennials influence just about every single industry, they continue to be given a poor reputation. However, many companies are beginning to realize the value they create and the perspectives they offer. For example, Salesforce ranked second on Fortune’s 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials. Millennials contribute to 48% of their total workforce. Perhaps it should come as no surprise then that the company is also ranked as the #1 most innovative company by Forbes.

Take the time to understand your millennial employees, or if you don’t have any, find ways to start including them. You may find that they’re just the right people for the job.

Want some additional help managing millennials? Check out our previous guide here.