The end of 2017 is fast approaching, and as the year closes, we feel it is time to close the book on one particular topic that has dominated the hiring conversation for the past few years: Millennials. We don’t expect this article to be the final word on the place of Millennials in the workplace, but it will be the final word for us. The time to debate just how terrible or great Millennials are is over. They are fast approaching the majority as the workforce. According to a study conducted by IBM, by 2020 Millennials will comprise 50 percent of the U.S. workforce. By 2030 they will represent 75 percent of the workforce. The time for pontificating over every outlandish claim that Millennials want to work solely from the comfort of their studio apartments or commute to their jobs in eco-friendly, refurbished Ferris wheels that are fueled by compost and hopes is over. Millennials are not the future of the workforce; they are the present, and it’s going to be okay.
In reference to the aforementioned IBM study, the insight and statistics provided are a sound representation of the myths versus the realities of the Millennial workforce, but it is also important to the context of this article to remind you that the study was conducted in the summer of 2014. At this time the age group for Millennials as prescribed by the study was 21-34. This means that by next summer, Millennials will be represented by individuals in the 25-38 age range. By the summer of 2020, when Millennials will be hitting 50 percent of the workforce, some of them will also be hitting 40 years old.
The goal with this, our last word on Millennials, is to confront a few of the enduring myths and, through the context of the IBM study, dispel them. While the study was a broad endeavor spanning 6 industries, the stereotypes and concerns addressed mirror those we have fielded within the insurance industry.
Millennials want different things from a career than older generations
Despite the insistence that Millennials are out to completely undermine or revolutionize the very concept of work, the research suggests otherwise. In fact, in regards to career goals, Millennials and Baby Boomers are almost identical in what they feel is important. Among the top goals for these two groups is to work for leading organizations and make a positive impact within that organization. If any generation is an outlier in terms of career goals, it is Generation X, who, at the time of the study, was comprised of individuals falling within the 35-49 age range.
Everyone should get a trophy
This has become the motto of cynics everywhere in regards to Millennials. Unfortunately for them, it doesn’t bode well in the face of the data. Millennials appear to be more concerned with working for leaders who value transparency and dependability rather than leaders who heap praise on their subordinates. While Millennials are more likely to value recognition than Generation X or Baby Boomers, the importance of this has been greatly exaggerated. Accolades are far less important to Millennials than fair treatment.
Millennials are eager to jump ship
Like every other generation in the workforce, Millennials strive for upward mobility within their career. They want to be able to grow and develop into roles that offer greater challenges as well as greater rewards. Are Millennials susceptible to making an organizational shift for their benefit? Yes, but no more than any other generation. In fact, individuals belonging to Generation X are more likely to change jobs for reasons of finance or passion than Millennials. The itinerant nature of Millennials seems to be more a product of the economic times rather than an internal desire to change jobs.
If Millennials are the future of the workforce, then the future was yesterday. But really, the most important thing to concentrate on when interviewing Millennials, or Gen-Xers, or Baby Boomers (and yes, you should be considering applicants from all these generations) is that they aren’t just a Millennial or a Gen-Xer or a Baby boomer. They are an individual, and if you interview well and listen closely, you might just learn what it is they are looking for, not as a member of some generational group, but as a person.