Are Millennials killing the modern workforce?

Shaun Stevens
August 22, 20184 mins read

Short answer: No. Long answer: No, not at all.

If you believe all you read in traditional news media, Millenials are the most genocidal generation in recent history. From the traditionally cited, majorly disrupted industries (video rentals, taxis, hotels) to the obscure and absurd (napkins, wine corks, handshakes)... There is no mass murder of which millennials aren’t accused.
So it’s no surprise that many cite millennials as a source of major frustration at work. Branded “disloyal”, “jumpy” and “entitled” - Millennials get a bad rap in the office environment.
But the positive side of these traits is just as powerful. Statistical research shows that each generation has its strengths, weaknesses, and comparative value. Millenials are flexible, entrepreneurial, and tech-savvy. What they lack in tenure and longevity, they make up for in adaptability and knowledge transfer; Millennials are the honeybees of the professional environment - gathering key information and skills from one business and pollinating the wider market, so that even more organisations can blossom.

So, given they have so much to offer the working environment - how do you get millennials to work for you!?

1.    Offer contract positions

For those with a short attention span, who find it hard to stay in one place for long - contracting makes perfect sense. Where professional development was once a key motivator for choosing a permanent position, workers no longer need to look to their direct boss for such learning (thanks, Google and HarvardX!). This gives millennials the ease to roam the contract market, honing a specific set of skills and trying a range of roles/industries before settling down. 

And the value rings true on the other side of the hot desk. Hiring Managers have long understood the benefits of a contract model - assistance when needed, but no pesky long-term salaries to pay or additional benefits to offer for when the pipeline quietens down! 

And finally - technological advancement has made finding and delivering contract work even easier. Positions are posted, shared and applied for in minutes thanks to online job platforms and contract-specific portals - and the need for physical proximity is reduced because geographically disparate teams can meet, and discuss deliverables in real time, thanks to the likes of Skype and LoopUp.

While these changes aren’t specific to millennials, they then to be faster to adopt such new business models and more willing to take accept risks of a short-term role.

Key takeaway: Employers and employees - consider whether a short-term contract could be the right option. 

2.    Promote flexibility and change your incentives

Flexible working has quickly evolved from an absolute luxury, to an added benefit, and now an expected offering. In fact - requesting flexible working hours is a right of every employee. So yes, millennials may have the reputation of acting entitled to certain privileges, but in this case, they might be right!

The ability to work a half day from home here and there, or leave at 4 for a Pilates class once a week, should no longer be considered an “incentive” – I can foresee a time in the near future where the ability to work from home, part-time, or in some other non-traditional capacity, will be a standard of most employment contracts

I received a headhunt message from a recruitment firm recently which promised “flexible working”, which was explained to mean I could choose to work from 8.30-5pm, or 9am-5.30pm… What a revelation! Packaging this as a flexible arrangement was laughable and made me question whether any of the other “benefits” would actually be appealing!

Key takeaway: Something shouldn’t be called a benefit if it’s industry standard, or the right of an employee.

3.    Offer e-mentoring

Everyone knows that having a great mentor(s) is foundational to the building blocks of a successful career. In past, choosing someone with whom you could have meaningful exchanges and share actual conversations meant choosing someone in your immediate network – even if it meant having a mutual connection make the introduction.

Times change. We are all more connected with the other 7.6 billion people on the planet than ever before - so it’s easily within our power to choose a mentor from pretty much anywhere. A different business, a different industry, a different geography. 

Nepotism has always been rife in the corporate world, but it has never been more of a case of “who you know” - only now, you have a huge amount of influence over this!

These days, highly attuned LinkedIn (stalking) skills can broaden a social and professional circle with ease, and open many doors. Find someone whose professional career you would love to emulate. Reach out, introduce yourself, keep a finger on the pulse of your favourite business or sector and build some internal currency. 

Key takeaway: There is NO excuse not to have a mentor or professional role model. As an employer; have mechanisms in place to encourage and facilitate mentoring connections.

If you’re a millennial looking for a flexible, innovative business for your next big challenge, please reach out. On the other side of the coin, if you’re struggling to attract the right candidates in a changing employment landscape, Morgan McKinley would love to help.



Shaun Stevens's picture
Associate Director | Executive Recruitment, Strategy, Innovation & Finance


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