Recently, we had the chance to chat with a group of university students, who were going to earn their graduate degrees this summer. We were already interested in the different approach of younger generations to work and life, so we asked whether they would want to work one more hour, each day, to get a 10% more paycheck. Not surprisingly, only 3 out of 10 youngsters preferred that option. We even heard one of them mumbling ‘I have a life’.
As of 2015, millenials (not to say ‘millenials and GenerationZ’ over and over again, we will combine them as millenials) are the largest generation in US workforce and by 2020 they will make up 50% of global total. This is a new generation, which differs from older ones in many aspects, like being a global citizen (at least online). We put great importance to this, because we think that even the wildest and wisest futurologists couldn’t have thought how internet and its’ offsprings, like smart phones and social media, changed and shaped the world. For us, the biggest change that we owe to internet might be the increased access to ALTERNATIVES, which we believe is the main factor shaping millenials’ approach to their careers and lives.
There are lots of good articles, like this or this, about the millenials and how their approach to working differs from earlier generations. We do not want to fully repeat their ideas, but only to summarize some important findings and try to connect them with our emphasis on alternatives.
First of all, although we have argued that corporates should pay workers more in Part-1, the millenials can not be easily tempted by money, as we have shown by our little survey above. There is a growing number of research concluding that flexbility is the top priority for millenial employees, even surpassing health benefits. Ever increasing number of employees want the chance of working flexibly, sometimes from their homes. This statement we’ve read somewhere strikingly sunmarizes the idea; ‘if you don’t trust me that I could be successful working flexibly, why did you hire me in the first place?’. In fact, flexible employees can also benefit the corporates, in terms of lower office costs.
Employee friendly working environment is as important as flexiblity. More often than not, order generations fail to notice that we spend most of our lives in the workplace, more than our time with families or friends. Millenials seem to be better aware of this fact and they ask for more employee-friendly work environment. They see what working at Google is like and they dream of similar jobs.
Next, millenials care for personal involvement and development in their jobs and they are not afraid of quitting, if they do not find a meaningful purpose or a goal. Research suggest that the average duration, which the millenials change jobs is only two years, compared to seven years for the baby boomers. Millenials also care for seeing the contribution they make to their jobs and, from a wider perspective, to the society and the world.
Last but not least, the millenials want to get feedback for their work and they want it very fast. This is not surprising, if we consider the importance of being ‘Liked’ in almost every social media platform. We can add here the fact that the millenials prefer to see a leader rather than a boss. Another good expression we’ve come across about the millenials approach to their careers was; ‘They want to work WITH you, rather than work FOR you’.
How to tie all together?
The baby boomers lived in an era during which their countries was trying to get back on their feet again, after a devastating first half of the 20th century. Thus, we believe their (subconscious) attitude was to ‘rise together’. Furthermore, they did not have the communication opportunities of todays’ generations, so they were less aware of what was going on out of their world.
The millenials, on the other hand, are living in a relatively more stable world. The baby boomers have done a great job in creating a generally solid economic foundation for them. They figuratively have created a machine, which can operate as a whole, independent from its’ parts. Consequently, todays’ newer generations can think more about their personal well-being, without giving much thought about the overall system. Hence, the ‘individualist’ youngsters, as they hate being labelled as ‘selfish’ or even ‘narcissistic’.
Furthermore, not only millenials but anyone, can literally reach anything they want today, using internet. They know more about the world, other people, other cities and other countries. They can see what good or harm their (or firms’) actions were doing on others. They have access to lots of different life-styles, societies or leisure options. Most of all, they can look for better jobs for them, even while they are sitting in their offices. Hence, the ALTERNATIVES.! Todays’ employees, and people in general, have much more alternatives than older generations, or at least they like to think so. They feel that they did not have to sell their souls to company store anymore.
After a long story that had to be divided in two, we can sum up our thoughts about how capitalism should change, in order to continue to dominate the world. The corporates should pay more attention to employees overall well-being. More inclusive and responsive governance, increased flexibility, happier offices and more space for work-life balance are the keywords. We believe that todays’ employee generation will be the last to work 9-5 hours. Of course, a more equal share of wealth would never hurt.