As every business owner knows, you’ve got to do what you can to cater to the desires and preferences of your workforce if you want them to stick around and not see their job with you as a “speed bump” on their way to the job they really want.
Millennials are the largest generation in US History, more numerous even than the Boomers, and as such, they’re increasingly coming to dominate the modern American workforce. In survey after survey conducted to find out what this group wants from a work environment, one word stands out above the rest, in terms of what they want: Flexibility.
They want to be able to have at least some control over their hours, arranging work around their lives and lifestyles. They want to have the option to work from home. To leverage technology in innovative ways that will make their work life easier. The employees who can give them at least some of those things will be much more likely to keep them in the long run.
The question is, why? Why is flexibility so important to this group in particular? The answer is complex, but centers around three distinct characteristics that define the world that Millennials have grown up in. We’ll take a closer look at all three, just below:
The Great Recession’s Lasting Impact
Millennials came of age during the Great Recession, which was second only to the Great Depression in terms of the economic hardship it slammed tens of millions of people with.
Many Millennials were just entering the workforce as the recession began, and it had a profound psychological impact. The few who could find jobs took what they could get. Mostly part time work with limited hours and low pay.
Then something amazing happened. The combination of persistently high unemployment and increasingly common high-speed internet connectivity gave rise to what we now call “The Gig Economy.”
On- demand work that anyone with the requisite skills could do from anywhere, anytime they wanted.
The Gig Economy has enjoyed rampant growth because Millennials latched onto the idea and ran with it, and many have found they can make a good living that way. Thus, it has become the standard against all other job options are compared. If your job offer can’t measure up, you’re likely to get passed over.
The Importance Of A Healthy Work-Life Balance
Millennials learned another important lesson by watching their parents struggle during the Great Recession.
It doesn’t really gain them much to kill themselves for an employer, because when things turn sour, hard workers get sacrificed just as quickly as marginal ones, so work-life balance matters a great deal to this group.
They don’t want to be their parents. They don’t want to be essentially on call 24/7. They demand their lives back, and good for them.
Yes, it can be challenging from the employer perspective, but at the same time, it’s incredibly hard to fault them for their line of thinking.
Millennials are the first generation who grew up with the Internet. They have literally never known a life without it, and that has made them natural technophiles.
This group is always on the lookout for new technologies and ideas to incorporate into their lives (work or otherwise), and if you, as an employer, don’t give them the freedom and flexibility to incorporate new tech toys as they find them, they’re going to be unhappy.
There’s a lot to be learned by understanding the “whys” behind the chief desire of the Millennial generation. If you can create a work environment that gives them the flexibility they’re looking for, you can create a powerful, long-term strategic advantage for yourself and for your company.