I have read article after article about how each previous generation views the work ethics of Millennials in a poor light, which has been the case with every new generation.
There is no denying the differences among how all generations view work. Our grandparents lived to work. Our parents worked to live. Millennials “live,” and that includes work.
Yes, I am a Millennial, a term that encompasses nearly 40% of the U.S. workforce, who generally range in age from early 20s to late 30s. It can be a loaded term when used to create division. We tout it like a badge of honor, and other generations — the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers and Generation X — use it when grasping to describe an unknown presence, like a Martian that just landed on their lawn.
It is imperative that business owners who are from another generation understand Millennials and what drives us, as we could make up as much as 75% of the workforce by 2025, according to some estimates. By making your business more attractive for Millennials, learning to utilize their skills and encouraging them to take on larger roles, your business will be better positioned to thrive in the future.
First, you need to understand some other statistics, which are daunting, like only 29% of Millennials are engaged at work, meaning they’re emotionally or psychologically attached to their job and workplace — i.e. the rest aren’t. Also, 60% are open to different job opportunities, and only 50% are planning to stay with their employer more than a year.
Why is this? Well, we’ve been told our whole life (by older generations) to “find a job that makes you happy,” and that’s exactly what Millennials are doing. After all, something that takes up a third of your day and 40 hours of your week isn’t just a job; it’s a major piece of the puzzle that is your life.
Secondly, it’s important to understand what Millennials value. At work, the No. 1 priority is company culture. In fact, the average Millennial is willing to sacrifice more salary for a healthier work environment, which includes things like purpose, stability, flexibility, inclusion, diversity, investment in their career development and open dialogue.
This isn’t to say Millennials don’t want fair compensation and good perks, because we do. It means Millennials also want to be engaged — valuing their role and duties, being a part of a team that challenges each other, hearing honest and helpful feedback, and caring about the company and its growth.
Why is engagement so important? Compared to those with the lowest engagement, businesses with the highest engagement from employees are 17% more productive, suffer 70% fewer safety incidents, experience 41% less absenteeism and are 21% more profitable, according to a Gallup study.
So, the majority of an entire generation of the most educated and technically savvy workers in American history is actively looking for a thoughtful employer. Meanwhile, business owners are trying to figure out how to attract the most talented and dedicated employees to improve their company. It’s a win-win when we get this right.
I challenge that the changes my generation are bringing to the workplace are, for the most part, the same changes all generations are longing for. So, I challenge you, are the generations really that much different in what is expected from an employer? If we can all agree on the foundation, then maybe we can all work together to create a work environment where we learn from one another.
Millennials are the big wave of employees hitting companies right now, and we want to make the world a better place, starting with where we work. We must encourage all generations in the workplace to see the benefits of what each generation can bring to the other. We all want some of the same things, we just have to be inclusive and work together. Be open to change. You might be surprised by what you find.
Editor’s note: Jenny Carithers Price is a planning and development manager for Arvest Wealth Management in Lowell. The opinions expressed are those of the author.