Our Future: Millennials in the Workforce

millennial-statsHave you ever thought that each successive generation appears to be more lazy and selfish than the last? Some of this perception arises from the creeping conservatism that we all go through as we age.  As we get older and we transition from being the “young and beautiful” of our society to more stuffy versions of ourselves, we naturally assume the next generation has it easier, grows up faster, and works less to get what they have.  Put simply, self-supporting filtered comparisons make up a key part of human nature.  However, I think we can all agree that as relative affluence changes, so do ideas and behaviors.  In other words, the degree to which my basic as well as most developed needs are met help define who I am, how I act, and what I do.

The Millennials or Generation Y (those born between roughly between 1980 and 2000) possess the same stereotype as previous generations.  Mainstream media has spent the last several decades warning us about the Millennials. Its overblown dramatization of the stereotypical entitled, self-absorbed, and controlling Millennial seems to appear all segments of media.  As the largest age grouping in US history (80 million) and accounting for 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, getting to know them better is paramount to the success of not just our organizations, but our country and world.

So, what do some typically presented numbers say?

  • Sixty (60) percent  of employed Millennials have already changed careers at least once s and will have held an average of seven jobs by 26 years old (Intrepid Study 2010)
  • Fifty-eight (58) percent more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than 1982 (National Institutes of Health)
  • Sixty (60) percent of Millennials expect a lot of themselves by indicating they will “feel” what is right in a situation instead of deferring to another source (National Study of Youth and Religion)
  • More people 18-29 live with their parents than a spouse (Clark University)
  • Twenty-three (23) percent of companies reported having heavy contact with parents of millennial employees. (College Employment Research Institute)
  • Four (4) percent of employers involved reported parents attended their children’s job interviews(College Employment Research Institute)
  • Thirty-one (31) percent of employers involved reported parents submitted resumes on behalf of their offspring. (College Employment Research Institute)

These numbers capture the commonly presented image of spoiled and needy.  However, they only tell one side of the story.  What the above numbers leave out is some very positive characteristics:

  • Seventy-five (75) percent link who they are as a person to what they do for a living (Bersin)
  • Most committed to self-expression of recent generations (US Chamber of Commerce)
  • Eighty (80) percent want a job with more responsibility (Families and Work Institute)
  • Millennials are the most educated generation in American history (US DOL)
  • Eighty-three (83) percent feel technology make work easier (Telefonica)
  • More team-focused that other groups (Boston Consulting Group)
  • More than a quarter, 27 percent are already self-employed (US Chamber of Commerce)
  • Sixty-five (65) percent of Millennials said personal development was the most influential factor in selecting their current job (UNC)

Millennials clearly desire more flexibility, growth, and customization in their careers.  By nature, they demand more of us as coaches, managers, and leaders.  Yet, they offer more education, diversity, social awareness, technology ability, and entrepreneurial spirit than any other segment of our workforce.  I hope we would all agree that as we strive to become more competitive, that a great combination to have.

If you want to test how Millennial you are, here is a great test offered by the Pew Research Center: http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/how-millennial-are-you/


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