Who are Millennials?
For the past few years Millennials or people born from 1980 onward have become a buzz word in most industries. Millennials are the largest demographic group in the US, close to 80 million strong and recently crossed baby boomers (Generation X) in American workforce numbers, according to Pew Research Center. Accenture estimates that by 2020 millennials will spend close to $1.4 trillion annually. These are numbers making industry experts sit up and acknowledge the opportunity at hand. A new industry of consultants and researchers have emerged who claim to know the millennials better, right from how premium luxury brands can connect with Millennials; to how Millennials are naming their babies; to what coffee they prefer – the pandering is difficult to miss. Big corporations like Oracle and LinkedIn are hiring expensive Millennial consultants who are expected to help them understand, manage and market to Millennials.
Millennials have been often portrayed as needy, indulgent, impatient and less likely to stay in current job for long. On the other hand, optimists describe them as looking for purpose, feedback to improve, and work life balance. Such differing views have added fire to the thought that Millennials are completely different & difficult to understand and have given rise to a new consulting industry claiming to be Millennial experts.
Millenials want the same things as everyone else
Although arguments claiming that “Millennials are different” seem true on the face of it, such arguments often aren’t supported by strong empirical research. In fact more and more research suggests that employees of all ages are more or less alike in their attitudes and expectations at work. The small differences that do exist, always existed between younger and older workers in a workforce and has less to do with the Millennial tag.
George Washington University and the Department of Defense as a part of their research went through numerous studies that examined generational differences and concluded that – meaningful differences among generations probably do not exist in the workplace . The small difference were more attributable to stage of life rather than generational differences. Quoting Elspeth Reeve “It’s not that people born after 1980 are narcissists, it’s that young people are narcissists, and they get over themselves as they get older.”
IBM’s Institute for Business Value has released a report titled “Myths, Exaggerations and Uncomfortable Truths: The Real Story Behind Millennials in the Workplace.” which is a multi-generational study of 1,784 employees from businesses across 12 countries and 6 industries Millennials want many of the same things their older colleagues do. While there are some distinctions among the generations, Millennials’ attitudes are not poles apart from other employees’. One notable finding was that Millennials have similar career aspirations to those of older generations. Also, Millennials were no more likely than many of their older colleagues to solicit advice at work.
The 2015 study by CNBC gave out similar results . Looking at the importance of six traits in a potential employer — ethics, environmental practices, work-life balance, profitability, diversity and reputation for hiring the best and the brightest — CNBC concludes that millennial preferences are just about the same as the broader population on all six. As an example, 18% Millennials rated work-life balance as the most important trait in a company as compared to 19% of rest of the population.
Wake up companies
While viewing all this evidence one begins to wonder if companies spending enormous amounts of time and money to devise a Millenials specific employee engagement strategy are making the best use of resources. It would seem better for them to focus on things that will help them engage with all their employees helping them deliver their best at work.
Based on decades of existing research, HappyOffice believes that these 8 metrics are the key to engaging and retaining employees – Vision Alignment, Personal Growth, Relationship, Recognition, Work Satisfaction, Benefits, Wellness and Work Environment.