Every generation leaves an indelible mark on the workplace – from the strong work ethic of Baby Boomers to the balanced management expertise of Generation X. But what do millennials – those born after 1980 – bring to the workplace and how will their contribution continue to evolve as they move into leadership positions?
In many ways, millennials are the darlings of the workplace – confident, sociable, inclusive and fun.
But underneath the glittery package is a serious, talented and diligent worker.
Having grown up surrounded by technology and digital media, and with a structured childhood background in music, dance, language and sporting tuition, millennials are the most educated, goal-focussed and team-centric generation of workers today. Add a strong work ethic instilled by their Baby Boomer parents, and you have a very attractive addition to the team.
According to independent Australian research commissioned by specialist recruiter Robert Half, millennials bring a number of key qualities to the workplace that potentially make them attractive leaders – increased collaboration and transparency (60%), more flexibility (44%), a greater emphasis on soft skills such as teamwork and problem solving (43%), increased mentoring (38%) and greater emphasis on communication practices (22%).
So attractive are these qualities, that Australian businesses are adapting their workplace and adjusting their hiring practices to vie for the attention of top millennial talent – and thus securing all the benefits brought by their tech-savviness and appetite for learning.
HOW THEY WILL CHANGE THE WORKPLACE
By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of Australia’s workforce and a new generation of leaders will be firmly entrenched – as will their influence on the nature of the workplace.
Here’s what we’re likely to see.
A more balanced workplace
Millennials have been raised during good economic times where their parents have had the financial means to provide access to a broad range of lifestyle experiences. This upbringing means they value these lifestyle elements – travel, holidays and time with friends and family.
As Millennials take on greater responsibility as leaders, they’re likely to place a greater emphasis on these elements than previous generations, meaning the workplace may provide greater balance between work and lifestyle.
A survey by job website SEEK found that Millennials were more likely to want the ability to buy annual leave or take unpaid leave, giving them the opportunity to travel. Almost one in five said this was a ‘must have’, compared with one in 10 from Generation X and one in 20 from Baby Boomers.
Building on the above point, having also grown up during a time of great technological advancement, Millennials have experienced more freedom in the work they choose to do and where they do it from.
As they transition into leadership, they’re likely to design workplaces to have greater flexibility around when and where work is done, providing greater access to the lifestyle needs they crave.
A more mobile workforce
Research shows that today’s employees will have an estimated 17 jobs and 5 careers during their working lives.
The fast-paced and privileged upbringing of Millennials means this trend is likely to continue as they seek to work on the terms they want. The impact for workplaces of the future is they may become more adept at providing career transition within a single organistion to provide the variety and range of experiences that future generations crave, meaning they’re able to retain talented people.
THE GENERATIONS AT WORK
Trying to figure out the difference between a Boomer and Millennial? Here are a few things you should know about each generation, and the unique talents and skills they bring to the workplace:
Baby Boomers (born roughly 1946 – 1964) are loyal, dedicated workers who are likely to put work before pleasure. They distrust authority and large organisations and are big on equal rights and equal opportunities. Boomers are optimistic, team oriented workers – but are all for personal growth and gratification.
Generation Xers (born roughly 1965 – 1980) are tech savvy and independent and often make excellent managers. They have no problem challenging authority or demanding an acceptable work-life balance. Because they place a lower priority on work than the generation before, Gen Xers are often viewed as being not dedicated; however, the reality is that they are incredibly flexible and adaptive workers who will happily take on new challenges and develop new skill sets. They are often the ‘funsters’ at work.
Millennials (or Generation Ys) (born roughly 1981 – 1994) are among the most resilient and educated workers of all. Having grown up with the Internet and the threat of global terrorism, millennials will navigate change easily and efficiently – all the while respecting diversity and being inclusive. Millennials are very team-centric and goal-focussed and are willing to work hard to get where they want. However, their ‘me’ focus can sometimes make them appear self-centred.