How Millennials Will Shape Politics & the Workplace

December 2, 2016 – Hunt Scanlon’s analysis of the 2016 Millennial electorate suggests that the youth turnout remained about the same as in 2012. Nothing, it seems, in the recent election cycle excited this important demographic group to get out their vote. The presidency is now set for the next four years, and for Millennials – like everyone else – its back to work time.

With Millennials making up 25 percent of the vote in this year’s election, President-elect Donald Trump, while “losing” the Millennial vote overall by 55 percent to 37 percent, garnered support from segments of the youth electorate.

According to research by The Center for Information & Research On Civic Learning & Engagement, which tracked who Millennials voted for, Mr. Trump drew significant support from young people whose ideas and concerns tracked closely with the key themes of his campaign: the state of the country, an interest in stronger immigration controls, and a perceived untrustworthiness of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

On the other hand, while Mrs. Clinton won by large margins among demographic groups, like unmarried young women and Millennials of color, she lacked key support from young whites, young men, and young white moderates. Some of these groups previously backed President Obama by wide margins in 2008 and 2012.

The demographic diversity of young people, therefore, played a significant role in the election, and the youth electorate’s ideological diversity has both immediate and long-term consequences for both parties and for American politics.

Millennials who voted in 2016 were more liberal but less likely to identify as Democrats — and no more likely to identify as Republicans than in 2008. The need to engage these increasingly Independent and independent-minded Millennial voters, in future elections and beyond the ballot box and into their workplaces, may emerge as one of the most significant stories of this historic election.

“Millennials are highly intellectually curious and interested in making a difference in the world,” said Smooch S. Reynolds, an executive recruiter with DHR International, and a Millennial prognosticator. “As this generation becomes more educated about political topics in the future I believe we will see a rise in their political engagement,” she added. 

“But Millennials are a very interesting generation in terms of their overall societal curiosity and pursuit of passion,” Ms. Reynolds said. “They tend to gravitate towards roles in companies that are aligned with their own passion and interest, and as a result I think their engagement levels at work will substantially increase over time.”

Ms. Reynolds said that Millennials‘ tendency is to pursue employment that supports their passion and that allows them to be fully engaged, productive and innovative in their efforts. “If there ever was a generation of potential influencers across business this is the generation that is going to start to turn the workplace in terms of its configuration, how people collaborate together and how individuals approach problem solving.”

Tips to Keep Millennials Engaged

Recent studies suggest that Ms. Reynolds might be right, and they all point to various ways to engage this generation in the workforce. MillennialCEO recently released its ‘4 Tips for Keeping Millennials Engaged’ report, which offered these suggestions.

  • Think Employability – Millennials tend to be more interested in building skillsets that drive employability rather than employment. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon to stay with one career and employer for as long as possible. But this generation is seeking to make regular changes that give them exposure to new opportunities. Employers wanting to combat this must consider regular changes themselves, such as training and job rotation that slows burnout and keeps this group interested in the work they’re doing.
  • Offer Flexible Work – Among Millennials, just under 90 percent would prefer to work at a time of their choice as opposed to 9-5. Nearly half of Millennials would take flex time or more vacation over increased pay. This generation is highly motivated by flexibility. Many companies still subscribe to 9-5 hours, but really have no idea why. Perhaps this is a way to garner better talent without having to pay as much. Perhaps it will even drive loyalty.
  • Love Technology – More than half of Millennials would rather give up their sense of smell than their iPhone. They are highly connected to their devices, apps, and their social networks. They seek to work with companies that embrace technology and that have an open mind about social media networks.
  • Provide Feedback – It is also most important to let Millennials see where the business is going. Studies have shown that 95 percent of Millennials are more motivated to perform when they know where they’re headed. Also, 80 percent seek regular, on-the-spot feedback instead of formal (delayed) reviews. That same 80 percent seeks regular feedback from their managers. Millennials must feel close to the company and their bosses, or they will quickly become disconnected.

What Makes Millennials Tick

In this third podcast episode of our 10-part podcast series, ‘Working with Millennials,’ we feature another highly informative Q&A with Smooch Reynolds, DHR International’s global investor relations and communications practice group leader. According to Ms. Reynolds, if Millennials hold true to their passions and interests they will shape politics and work for decades to come. Listen Now.

Using these strategies and motivators in the workplace might be the key to unlocking this group politically, advised Ms. Reynolds. “Having Millennials engaged in the workplace could be a sign of good things to come for political engagement,” she said. Ms. Reynolds added that it was crystal clear why only half of Millennials voted: Neither party tapped into younger people’s passions. “That was a big turn off,” she said.

“There’s a different type of engagement in politics vs work and I think that it takes a couple of election cycles for people to grow into and develop their own confidence as to what they’re voting for and where they fall –  that takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight,” Ms. Reynolds added. “Millennials are going to help shape politics as well as steer how business is conducted ethically to help advance the notion of inclusiveness across all platforms, both business and social,” she said.

Millennials are looking for a government that matches what they seek and find in the workplace, noted Ms. Reynolds. “I think as this generation matures it will become more evident to employers and further inspire these young professionals,” she said. “If this generation holds true to their passions and interests then as a result four years from now they will play a much larger role in society and business and resulting from this maturity they will be potentially very different influencers on the political scene.” Millennials, she said, are active listeners, understand perspective, and they like to reach common ground. “These things motivate Millennials in politics and at work,” she added.

Looking forward it is essential for employers and politicians to get a good handle on what makes Millennials tick, as this generation will comprise more than one in three of adult Americans by 2020 when the next Presidential election is held.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Adam Shapiro, Director of Marketing & Brand Management — Hunt Scanlon Media

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