Millennials Bring Different Expectations to Work

Millennials began to enter the workforce in 2006, just a year before the last recession began to bite into the economy. Nine years later, during the first quarter of this year, millennials have surpassed the baby boomers – people born approximately between 1946 and 1964 – as the largest generation in the workforce.

Millennials – individuals born approximately between 1982 and 2004 – bring with them a different outlook and view of the workplace than previous generations. Due to their size, and the uniqueness they bring, it helps for employers to understand some key differences in this group. In general, they 1.) place a greater emphasis on work-life balance; 2.)  focus on the community in which they live to the degree that it takes precedence over job considerations and 3.) desire to work for companies motivated by more than just baseline profit.

Work-Life Balance

Millennials want jobs where they can be themselves at work, which often includes “dressing comfortably.” Seventy percent want time included in their work time that is set aside so they can be alone or participate in other activities that improve well-being and concentration, also known as me time.1

Millennials also want more flexibility in their working hours. Employers may miss that work for millennials does not have to be mutually exclusive from their personal life. According to an Ernst & Young survey on millennials, lack of work schedule flexibility was cited as one of the top reasons millennials quit their jobs.2 However, the balance they seek is not a straightforward separation between set work schedules and their personal lives.

Focus on Community

Millennials have shown a preference to focus on the community and tying their lives and futures to that community over a specific job. They are motivated by factors other than profit maximization and want to work for organizations that share this same value. According to Deloitte’s Millennial Survey, “a focus on purpose and people is, for many millennials, just as important as a company’s ability to generate profit.” 3 In other words, millennials value the community of people and ideas that make up the company, rather than simply the ability of the company to generate returns to the owner or shareholder.

Millennials “think social consciousness should not be separate from the workplace, but a part of it.” 4 If that company works to improve the community where they live, or at least contribute to a greater social good, millennials are more likely to identify and remain loyal to an employer.

Benefit Corporation

A new type of corporation appeared in 2010 that seems to be tailor-made for millennials. Known as a benefit corporation, 5 it is a private, for-profit entity that includes the creation of benefits — that is, a positive impact on people, communities or the environment in addition to profit — as its legally stated goal. In April 2015, Idaho joined 30 other states in recognizing benefit corporations and allowing companies to register as such.6 This is a step in the right direction for the state to attract more millennial workers to Idaho.

1 http://payments.intuit.com/millennials-job-market/

2 https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/millennials-want-a-work-life-balance-their-bosses-just-dont-get-why/2015/05/05/1859369e-f376-11e4-84a6-6d7c67c50db0_story.html

3 http://www.fastcoexist.com/3041738/change-generation/millennials-want-to-work-at-organizations-that-focus-on-purpose-not-just-p

4 https://www.capstrat.com/elements/downloads/files/millennials-work.pdf

5 http://benefitcorp.net/state-by-state-status

6 http://www.idahostatesman.com/2015/04/03/3732260/otter-signs-bill-allowing-benefit.html

 Ethan.Mansfield@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 332-3570 ext. 3455