Read any article projecting workforce trends further into the current century and you’ll come across a mythical group of people called the Millennials. Sounding like something out of a sci-fi thriller or Dr. Who episode, it’s suggested that it is this group that will shape the immediate future and be the next great generation. But, just who are the Millennials anyway?
The term Millennial (sometimes referred to as Generation Y or Echo boomers) refers to the generation born between 1982 and sometime into the early 2000’s. Although these are not rigid dates Millennials are the first generation to come of age in the new millennium, picking up the baton from the demographic referred to as Generation X, people born from 1965 through to 1980. These generational names are the work of popular culture and serve to divide eras through to the beginning of the 20th century. Previously to Generation X and the Millennials were the Baby Boomers, people born during the fertility spike between 1946 and 1964 and the Silent Generation, children of the great depression and World War 2 from 1928 to 1945. The Greatest Generation referring to those born prior to 1928 are seen as people who saved the world when it was young, the generation who fought and won World War 2. To confuse issues even further in November of 2001 the US magazine ‘Time’ used the term Generation 9/11 relating to those younger people who were aged between 10 and 20 years old on the 11th September 2001 although this reference was obviously more prevalent to the US than the United Kingdom.
As with all other generations the Millennials believe that they have a unique and distinctive identity. It is fair to say that within the era described as Millennial, technology has advanced beyond all recognition with most born within this generation citing this area as their most unique. Politically, research suggests that Millennials in the UK have far more liberal attitudes regarding social and cultural issues and are likely to be supportive of policies in favour of same-sex marriage and the legalisation of Marijuana. Suggestion is that this generation will be less supportive of abortion and be opponents of any sort of animal testing. Religiously in a 2013 UK poll over half of Millennials spoke of having no religion at all with 41% of the opinion that religion is the cause of more evil in the world than good.
The Millennial approach
A large number of Millennials will not remember a time when the internet didn’t exist at its current level. The expectation that any piece of information is available instantly means the Millennials have a different mindset regarding their approach to work. They are also at the forefront of changes in how work gets done, changes driven by expertise in digital communication and the creative use and development of technology to solve any problem.
The Millennial era will also see freelancing and self-employment on the rise as the traditional 9 to 5 increasingly becomes a thing of the past. Terms like flexibility, purposeful labour and economic security will be key to attracting candidates to positions as workers look for opportunities that offer meaningful workplace experiences. Research has pointed to Millennials seeking jobs in which they can make an impact and cement lasting relationships with co-workers. In the main, Millennials entered the world of employment in the wake of recession and so are ready to adapt in the face of further economic disruption. The issue facing employers is that with the readiness to move career more prevalent amongst Millennials there will be a sharp increase in costs from high staff turnover. Employers that are prepared to embrace the requirements of Millennials stand more chance of fulfilling their ambitions and holding on to them for longer.
The Millennials will be the best educated generation there’s ever been. Maintaining this advantage for the next generation might just prove to be their greatest challenge.
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