Virtual Reality: Workplace Shifts Into Millennial Overdrive

July 31, 2015 – Eighty-eight percent of Millennials seek a consistent work/life balance and 57 percent said they will leave a job if they aren’t getting it, according to research released by Pinpoint Market Research and Anderson Jones PR. Respondents, who were born between 1980 and 2000, were also seen to “puddle-jump” jobs to increase their income opportunities. The survey found 39 percent of participants aged 20-29 have already held four to seven full-time jobs and 83 percent plan to stay at a single job for just two years, unless promoted. “This demographic is intensely aware of their value to employers based on their age, experience and skill sets,” said Jennifer Jones-Mitchell, chief insights officer for Pinpoint Market Research and head of global marketing for Anderson Jones PR.

“They know what they want from their jobs and they aren’t afraid to hold out until they get it. HR leaders need to consider structuring office environments around work/life balance and professional development if they want to attract the top-tier talent.”

Not surprising, new research has found that work/life balance is important to millennials. But unexpectedly, respondents said they will take cuts in pay in order to maintain a work/life balance. Remarkably, a full 72 percent of survey respondents choose companies with work-from-home options while 47 percent choose fewer hours over more pay. Sixty percent of Millennials choose “love of job” over money earned.

“Millennials grew up online and are accustomed to sitting down at their laptop anywhere in the world and being productive,” said Barbara Stahley, managing director at executive search firm Chadick Ellig. “CHROs are acknowledging this trend and providing new generations more freedom in the way that they work. This flexibility is also appreciated by older workers who may be balancing childcare and eldercare demands.” Corporate talent managers are going into overdrive trying to figure out how to identify, lure and retain this in-demand workforce.

When looking for work, many millennials don’t just look at the job and benefits — they look at the larger organization. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that 59 percent of millennials surveyed have or will deliberately seek out employers whose corporate social responsibility reflects their values. Often, they seek out companies that give back to the community.

More important than wages and benefits, millennials look for work with career advancement opportunity. They don’t just see career advancement as scaling the professional ladder. Instead, millennials look at professional growth as learning opportunities. And businesses gain a greater recruiting advantage from their organizational culture than higher salaries or fast promotions, concluded a recent Futurestep survey of more than 1,000 global executives.

Millennials are looking for companies that place premiums on career development, whether it’s a focus on mentorship or providing continued training or education opportunities. Companies that provide these options for career growth may be more likely to attract and keep millennials for the long haul.

“Companies would be wise to engage baby boomers and pair them with the millennials for more mentoring opportunities,” said Sally Stetson, co-founder and principal of executive recruiter Salveson Stetson Group. “In addition, the baby boomer generation can also be mentored by millennials in technology initiatives or social media.”

Not all flexible options will fit with every business, but providing some options can show that an organization values the millennial mindset of balancing work and family. While millennials challenge business culture, they are realistic. PwC found that 72 percent of those surveyed had made compromises for their current positions including lower salaries, fewer benefits, or working outside preferred locations.

“Still, the companies that will recruit and retain the best of this generation are already making efforts towards creating the incentives millennials want in work,” said Scott A. Scanlon, founding chairman and CEO of Greenwich-based Hunt Scanlon Media. “Creating more opportunities for giving back, career advancement, and flexible work can help you recruit and retain millennials, no question.” Millennials also favor flatter organizational structure, said Mr. Scanlon, and companies are responding by setting up leaner business units that encourage faster decision making.

Smooch S. Reynolds, an executive recruiter with DHR International and an expert on millennial hiring trends, said this bright, up-and-coming generation needs to be looked at from a new and more open perspective. “We’re starting to realize that millennials don’t really think like us, so how do we attract them to work for us and make them stick around? Surprisingly, the answer isn’t money. In order to understand them, we must first understand how millennials approach their lives.” According to Ms. Reynolds, they value experience over being able to pay the bills and they’re unwilling to sacrifice their personal lives for their professional lives.

“Clearly, the generational shift is underway — and a noticeable transfer of power in the senior leadership ranks of companies is in progress,” said Mr. Scanlon. According to research from Hunt Scanlon Media, a number of companies are now turning to members of Gen X, those born between 1965 and 1980, and younger boomers, now in their mid-50s, to move into the C-suite. Among those that have recently named CEOs aged 50 or younger are McDonald’s, Harley-Davidson, Microsoft, and 21st Century Fox.

“Millennials are not too far behind this demographic group,” said Mr. Scanlon. “The time to work with millennials and to onboard them is here. Millennials are giving companies a fresh human capital advantage and they should be embraced for their inspiring values, competitive spirit, inherent skill sets, and personal drive.”

Contributed by Christopher W. Hunt, Executive Editor / Publisher, Hunt Scanlon Media

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