While it is true millennials expect more flexibility from their employers than the baby boomers and Gen Xers that came before them, experts blame the 24-7 nature of today’s work environment, as opposed to laziness.
Panelists at the Arthur W. Page Society’s Spring Seminar in New York on Thursday challenged the stereotypical notion that millennials are merely entitled brats by reminding attendees that 18- to 35-year-olds are twice as likely to be stressed out than their elders.
Grant Toups, PulsePoint Group’s managing partner, argued that while some believe millennials are not as loyal to their workplace as older people, companies today are different. As an example, he said corporate America has changed, noting that it is rare for a company to offer pensions to new employees.
"Millennials live in an environment where they are on all the time with phones that have emails they are expected to respond to," he said, asking the audience, "How many of you had that when you were 25?"
Because of this, millennials want a work-life balance and flexibility because they have work with them all the time and "can’t get away from it," Toups said.
Stacey Tank, Home Depot’s VP, corporate communications and external affairs, added that the advancement of technology has also changed the game in terms of what millennials want from a workplace. She explained that when she interviews candidates, particularly for content and editorial roles, many of them are already freelancers who make a good salary.
"When we talk to them, we realize they do not want to give up their flexibility and come into the office every day and they certainly do not want to dress up," she said. "They want sabbaticals, and to work in cities far away, and come in once or twice a month."
Because technology has enabled people to make a good living working on different gigs, big companies such as Home Depot are forced to think about how to be more attractive as employers, Tank said.
Other highlights from the seminar
Aria Finger, DoSomething.org’s CEO, gave seminar attendees a number of tips to keep in mind when communicating and engaging with millennials:
- The average millennial does not have a college degree.
- 60% of young people will get involved with a cause or initiative based on who else is doing it.
- Fairness is important to millennials.
- Millennials don’t expect brands to be flawless.
- Texting is up to 40 times more effective than email.
- Less than 20% of Facebook users are in the 18- to 24-year-old bracket.
- 70% of Snapchat users are age 18 to 34.
- The future of digital is a lot more about messaging apps than it is a full social media landscape.
- 90% of word of mouth happens offline.