It’s important not to overly generalize an entire generation, especially one as large as the Millennials. But with lots of 20- and early-30-somethings proving to be an odd fit in the traditional corporate landscape, many analysts are starting to take a look at common expectations that Millennial-age workers have about their employment. One common phrase that emerges from these analyses is “work-life balance”.
Work-life balance describes a healthy blend of personal life and time spent at a workplace. Many Millennials prioritize time spent with family and friends more so than any generation in recent memory. They are a “we” generation, so-called by significant researchers and contrary to the notion that Millennials are just a bunch of narcissists. This generation has been profoundly altered by connectivity, specifically by the revolutions of mobile technologies and the internet. The knowledge and autonomy they have been able to achieve within the past two decades has made them a generation of individuals…together.
So when you bring a group of people who value community and individuality into the traditional workplace, there are bound to be problems. Here are a few that researchers have observed, as well as ways to get past them.
Some Millennials are spurning the traditional workforce entirely. Lots of them are making their money as freelancers, entrepreneurs, investors, or some combination of the three. Others are learning to live satisfying lives with less money, and are able to get more hours out of their days to pursue fulfilling lifestyles, rather than spend all day cultivating careers. To reach out to this sort of young worker, employers have to offer a lot of flexibility, including when employees work and where.
Millennials value health, but they want it to happen in the workplace, not just outside of it. This is another example of the community focused bent of this generation. Many would prefer having healthy food options in the workplace even more than they want a free gym membership outside the workplace. While this might sound like a contradiction to the work-life balance model I’ve suggested, it really isn’t. If it’s possible for work to be in keeping with Millennials’ standards for their own life (eating healthy foods), then this is preferable to making work unhealthy while investing in their health off the clock.
Millennials don’t want to be rich, but they don’t want to be poor. While every generation will have its financial overachievers, Millennials have shown their expectation that business is meant to benefit the world and the local community. Many will accept much lower pay in order to work for a business they feel meets these goals. At the same time, they don’t want to experience poverty, so employer-sponsored investments like the one mentioned above will play well among today’s youngest professionals.
As you can see, the Millennial generation is young, diverse, and carries new expectations about how things should be into the workplace. In 10 years, this generation will make up 75% of the workforce, so you can be that they’ll be making a lot of changes to the way America works along the way.