Millennials are people born in the years 1981-1996 (some sources increase the range of the years to 1980-2000). In other words, the so-called Generation Y, is the generation of technology that grew and developed with the advent of technology.
Despite the stereotypes that prevail among the representatives of the older generation, it is said that the millennial generation is one of the hardest-working generations. More than a quarter of them work in 2 or more jobs. This generation has a high weekly working time: 73% work more than 40 hours a week and almost 25% work more than 50 hours.
Millennials are characterized by competitiveness and openness to diversity. People are extremely focused on results and achievements. Millennials are motivated by the ability to take responsibility, the highest quality of leadership, and exceptional work experience. They are looking for challenges, they want to improve and develop, they want to find a work-life balance and career path and they can leave the organization or work if they decide that there is no change, or they do not like the changes. It's true that millennials communicate much more via text messages and email.
Why do we still talk about generation Y as some abstract phenomenon?
Millennials are now the most powerful generation of employees in the world and make up the largest workforce in the United States. According to a survey conducted by Gallup in 2016, representatives of this generation overtook the previous generation X in the labor market. So this is the answer that Generation X was and still is presented as an example of how to work and live. It is true that, to a large extent, it was Generation X that shaped the labor market in which we operate today. Many organizations and companies count their activities for decades, some even centuries. Often managers and board members of those organizations and companies are still representatives of generation X or people from an even earlier generation (Baby Boomers), for whom loyalty is the main value. For this reason, the standards created by previous generations are still considered working because "this is how we worked, developed, and achieved great results." We simply forget to say loudly and boldly that other people have entered the labor market, with a different outlook and perception.
Does what worked for one generation for several decades still work for the next generation?
Is it time for fundamental changes in the labor market with this generation?
A Gallup study showed that millennial job turnover costs the economy $30.5 billion USD per year. When we see numbers like this, it's hard to ignore a millennial workforce, isn't it? For this reason, paying attention to the Y generation is not only necessary but also economically viable for organizations and companies to understand the differences and appreciate the technologically savvy, creative members of the Y generation.
According to statistics collected in the United States, representatives of the Y generation:
- 66% work full-time
- 35% of the US workforce is Generation Y and is projected to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025
- only 57% are satisfied with their salary
- only 29% are committed to their work
By analyzing each of these indicators, it is easier to understand what and why is changing with the advent of this generation. We often hear that this is a generation that wants to earn a lot and work little. But the numbers show that this generation is the hardest working generation. For this reason, they want a fair salary, therefore they want to feel their contribution and importance, and they want to do meaningful work. 35% leave an organization after receiving a better offer because growth and development are more important to them, and involvement as they want to feel part of something bigger and more meaningful. And not necessarily a better offer is not because of a bigger pay-check, they are looking for empathy and understanding, and they want to work in an organization that is not focused only on its own wellness. For millennials, work is not just working, it is part of their lives, which is why they want to find a work-life balance and prefer emotional and psychological safety in the workplace.
We keep hearing that this is the generation that can't focus, and can't perform simple tasks, but the numbers show that this generation is the best educated. 39% of people from Generation Y have a bachelor's degree or higher. And remember that this is a generation of technology that can process much more information in less time and perform complex tasks.
Going back to the initial statement that the change in jobs of Generation Y employees costs the US economy $30.5 billion USD per year. Those numbers are undoubtedly significant also in Western European countries, which encourage employers to search for reasons and ways to attract and, most importantly, retain millennial employees in organizations.
How to Attract and Retain Millennials in the Workplace?
The millennial generation is less interested in status or fancy 'labels'. For them, the manager is not the "god" anymore, whose word is the last in a conversation. They ask questions and expect answers. Before starting a task, they want to understand its meaning and find and develop solutions on their own.
The Virginia Society of Financial Counselors (VSCPA) shares their insights on retaining millennials in a company or organization:
- Clear and consistent communication: these employees process a lot of data very quickly. They are great at multitasking and move quickly from one project to another. Having this in mind, employers should schedule tasks with deadlines. But they shouldn't micromanage when it’s given not only deadlines but also how to get the work done. This generation is capable to take responsibility and wants to decide on their own how they will perform the task to achieve the intended result.
- Targeted training: millennials want faster and more decisive professional growth. Intensive and targeted training helps to develop the loyalty of these employees. This generation wants to improve.
- Empathy: as many as 82% of employees would consider leaving their job for a more empathetic organization (survey of Businessolver State of Workplace Empathy, 2018). This new generation thrives on diversity and acceptance. Bringing equality and inclusion to the forefront of the company's goals attracts talent and increases loyalty to the organization.
- Collaborative team: generation Y likes teamwork and is motivated by mutual feedback within the group.
- Constant feedback: Employees of this generation expect constant feedback, not once a year or even once a quarter. This is the generation of Facebook or Instagram, which on average receives a reaction from those social networks within 2 minutes, so daily feedback from managers is desirable. Millennials want managers to be interested in them.
- Meaningful work: millennial employees want to know their purpose and role in the development of the company and what their contribution to society is. For this reason, organizations that prioritize delivering concrete benefits to society, such as the environment, sustainability, green energy, etc., are the focus of this generation.
- Use of technology: millennials value efficiency and extensive use of technology. Technology adoption in any company or organization should be an established practice, not an option.
- Flexibility: employers should offer a lot of flexibility. These people strive for a work-life balance, and their mental health is important to them. Employers should consider flexible working weeks or half-day Fridays and respect their holidays.
- Don't isolate employees from different generations: there are organizations where up to 4 generations work together. And although Generation Y is different from previous generations, and at the same time from the upcoming Generation Z, there is no need to emphasize their differences. What connects all generations is the time in which we live. And during this time, with such technological development, we have the opportunity to learn a lot about a person with the help of various tools that guide and evaluate employees in a way that is acceptable to them.
The success of the organization depends on how it is prepared to welcome employees of the dominant generation, how it pays attention to them and gives them the opportunity to reveal themselves, and how managers formulate tasks and provide feedback. Employee assessment tools allow to look at the organization from different angles and allow to solve existing problems and prevent future ones. More importantly, it allows to attract and retain talent that costs an impressive amount of money to find, hire, train and replace.