If many United States (and some international) media outlets are to be believed, Millennials are destroying everything. The generation whose birthdate bookends are more malleable than rigid has shaken up cultural business norms and purchasing patterns—and shoulders more student loan debt than previous generations. This debt has forced many Millennials to reconfigure major life event timelines to accommodate for this often-crippling debt—and to reassess what is most important to them.
But beyond significant debt, Millennials are increasingly skeptical of organizations’ ethical behavior, how businesses are run, and what (if any) positive societal impact these organizations’ leaders will have. This may come as no surprise, given that a large portion of Millennials faced a bleak job market during and after the Great Recession, souring perceptions of the post-2008 workplace. However, Millennials now make up more of the workforce than any other generation currently working—and they’ve brought with them new ideas and perspectives that are reshaping how businesses across the globe operate.
What Millennials Want (and Expect) from Work
While there’s no shortage of opinion pieces on Millennials in the workplace, one narrative seems to routinely cut through the clamor: Millennials are lazy and spoiled. This claim, however, lacks empirical evidence. What empirical evidence does exist concludes another, less sensational find: Millennials are no different from previous generations. “Young people today tend to see themselves and their work environments in a similar way as did young people from previous generations,” said Amanda Kreun, author of a Work Effects study that found these similarities. Conversely, the Harvard Business Review released a study titled “Millennials Are Actually Workaholics, According to Research.”
Since Millennials will by 2020 make up more than one-third of the global workforce, businesses with reservations about hiring Millennials should take note of both Kreun’s and HBR’s findings; who else can they hire to fill new roles? Millennials’ skepticism towards businesses’ ethics has risen recently, up 17 percentage points since 2017, according to Deloitte. Their skepticism takes aim at leadership roles as well, and each impacts Millennials’ decision-making in applying for, accepting, and reaming in certain positions.
Largely, Millennials want to work for organizations that are steered by leaders who respect and value their and other employees’ opinions and performance, as well as offer environments that foster dialogue for learning and growth. This includes a diverse and flexible workplace. Millennials value both highly, and each plays a significant role in how long some Millennials choose to remain with their current employer. Deloitte found that over 70% of Millennials that leave their roles after two years do so due to dissatisfaction with leadership skill development. Organizations can turn this tide by investing in leadership development, as well as other avenues for professional growth specific to their company.
Millennials Aren’t Lazy: They’re Eager to Learn, And Want Work-Life Balance
Both Millennials and Gen Zers want to learn and grow in their roles. Nearly 90% of participants told Gallup that career training and career growth are among their top concerns. But many employers either lack the tech and leadership skills needed to foster this growth, or simply don’t invest in growth and leadership opportunities. This is a major downfall, as nearly 17% of Millennials evaluate their career prospects based on a good work-life balance. Meeting this demand will become increasingly important for employers who wish to retain top talent among both Millennials and Gen Zers, with the latter projected to bypass traditional higher education for a workplace that offers training, education, and growth.
The clear desire for both role and career development illustrates that Millennials are willing to put in the extra effort to “move up” in their careers, but they want that extra effort to be countered with time for their personal lives. Millennials value flexible hours, whether working in an office, a co-working space, remotely, or a hybrid; with a reliable Internet connection, work can be completed virtually anywhere.
While there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that workers are too connected too often, Millennials are eager to learn new technologies that allow for greater flexibility. Overall, Millennials want this work-life balance not only to spend time away from the screen, but to perform to the best of their abilities from wherever they are located, and to grow when the opportunity arises.
If You’re Going Global, You’re Probably Hiring Millennials
Millennials tend to get a bad rap for a variety of reasons, but new evidence refutes the stereotypes placed on the global workforce’s largest demographic. Indeed, Millennials are changing the way businesses are run, both from the bottom up, and trading one position for another when the former lacks development opportunities. Employers that meet their Millennial employees’ needs stand a much greater chance of retaining top talent—and adjusting to new trends to remain ahead of the competition.
No matter where your global expansion may take you, Millennials will likely make up a portion of your team. While cultural nuances and geographic demands shape how the world’s Millennials work, overlapping factors are clear: businesses are sure to benefit from providing Millennials with opportunities to grow, as well as the resources required to pursue these opportunities.
Whether you’re hiring one employee in Berlin, or considering a larger presence in Bangkok, Velocity Global can help you get there. With capabilities in over 185 countries, Velocity Global’s International PEO (Professional Employer Organization) solution can have you up and running in your new country in as few as 48 hours—without an entity. If you’re ready to establish your international presence, reach out to Velocity Global today to get started. We’re ready when you are.