They learn differently, communicate differently, and work differently. They are… millennials! This demographic is a vital force that’s already shaking up the way things are done at the workplace. And you need to react fast – because the revolution is already here.
Today, over half of the world population is under 30. Call them generation Z, digital natives, or millennials… Born in the mid ‘90s, they’ve grown up with the tech revolution. This means they’re ultra-connected, entrepreneurial-minded and have short attention spans. Their career goals seem light years away from those of their elders. Companies need to rethink their ways and offer this generation a workplace that’s better adapted to its needs.
Information everywhere, all the time
Social media is an integral part of the daily lives of these young adults. They’re used to information coming straight to them, to the point that they’re regularly accused of being “lazy”. But aren’t we all a little guilty of expecting to be spoon-fed these days?
The digital revolution is a sweeping force that affects everybody. Executives in their forties are now hyper-connected. Newly retired folks have tablets. So this behavior isn’t specific to digital natives, but it’s definitely intensified in their generation – after all, they have never known anything else. Tomorrow, when it comes to ways of thinking, acting, communicating or learning, a young American will have more in common with another young person on the other side of the world than with their Baby Boomer neighbor.
Stability and flexibility: the winning combination
We often hear that these young professionals don’t want to be ordered around, that they question authority and want to subvert the status quo. As an employer, I’ve noticed that this isn’t entirely true. On the contrary, some of them are actually looking for some stability in their careers.
But stability needs to come with flexibility. 65% of millennials seek a stable, fulltime job, but just as many are looking for flexible working conditions. To them, flexibility guarantees wellbeing and work-life balance.
The quest for purpose
Throughout their childhoods, generation Z-ers have seen their parents count the days – until the weekend, until vacation, or until retirement. Even more than Generation Y, this is a generation that wants to put an end to passiveness. Millennials are fully aware that they will not have one career, but several (13, according to the OECD). Each of these careers needs to hold a particular meaning and make an impact.
If they don’t find their work meaningful anymore, some unplug and do nothing – or the bare minimum – while others leave the company entirely. This quest for purpose often comes down to the desire to make a difference. And it’s crucial for companies to come to terms with this.
The CEOs of their lives
We can’t reasonably demand of this generation that they sit down and watch a PowerPoint presentation for two hours. A generation that “zaps” through life is not going to be passive in front of screens. You could also call them the “Netflix generation”: they don’t just watch what’s on, they choose exactly what they want to watch. When it comes to learning new skills, it’s exactly the same: “I’ll choose what I want to learn, where I want to learn it, and when.”
Millennials are the CEOs of their talents, of their careers and of their own development. They’re going to represent 75% of the workforce in 2025! Barriers will need to be broken in the world of business because this new generation is definitely here to stay.