Millennials In Work

Millennials (such as yours truly) will soon account for over a third of the global workforce by 2020.

Often described as “disloyal, self-absorbed and lazy”. The millennial generation is often on the end of a lot of criticism which, while some can be justified, often misses out the innovations we have been responsible for and our digitally savvy ‘working smart’ work ethic.


“You’re lazy”

Probably the favourite criticism of my generation. We are perceived to look for short cuts, scrape by and clock out as soon as soon as it hits 5pm – but do that stats support this…well not really.

73% of millennials are working more than 40 hours a week and almost 25% are working more than 50 hours! What’s more, these figures don’t even take into account the time spent outside of the office; checking emails and dealing with boss’ last minute out of hours requests.

Even when you look at the length of time we expect to work, 12% of millennials expect to work till they die, while 27% expect they won’t retire until after the age of 70!

Or in other words, 27% of us expect to work close to, or over, 100,000 hours in a life time.


“You’re disloyal” … AKA ‘job hoppers’

Expecting to work harder and for longer, millennials have discarded the ‘career ladders’ and in their place, we have created a new work pattern, the ‘career waves’.

According to the Manpower Group, 84% of millennials are looking will take a ‘significant break’ from work; with 61% of female millennials, and 32% of males, expecting to take time off from their careers to look after their children. While this figure is still similar to previous generations it is ‘me-time’ that millennials differ from the older generations.

The ‘me-time’ I am referring to include things like:

  • Travel, where up to 42% of millennials said they’d take an extended break to see more of the world.
  • Hobbies, 24% of those asked said they’d consider taking a break from work to explore a hobby.
  • Further Education, where up to 23% said put work aside to re-educate or further educate themselves.

Although these stats show explain the ‘breaks’ in millennial CV’s they don’t explain the myth of ‘job hopping’.

According to the Pew Research Centre, the millennial generation actually expect to stay in a job & company for longer than Gen X did in 2000 – 63.4% of millennials (in 2016) saying they expected to stay for 13 months or more, compared to just 59.9% of Gen X’s asked in 2000.


“You’re Self Absorbed”

We entered the working world during and soon after one of the worst global economic recessions in history, which saw the creation of an ‘employers market’; as youth unemployment and graduate numbers also reached record figures.

On average a (recent) graduate millennial now needs a degree, high grades and ‘relevant’ work experience just to get their foot in the door for their first job; while at the same time needing to promote themselves on jobsites, LinkedIn and other networking sites.

This need to self-promote and differentiate, has seeped into the personal lives of millennials; with the use of social media to promote, differentiate and satisfy our egos keeping alive the stereotype around our “self-absorption”.


So, what do we want from work?

Let me make this clear we want to work, we will work and we aren’t lazy. We just have some different needs:

  1. Allow us to develop our skills

93% want to take part in role relevant training or learn about new aspects of the business. Help us grow our portfolio of skills so we don’t need to look elsewhere to learn something new.

  1. Provide us with job security

No, you don’t need to be a company that will never fold… 87% of us just want the skills to make us more employable and an asset to the workforce – We can do much more than make coffee and run errands…

  1. Connect with us

Give us feedback on our work, talk to us and use targets as a two-way street to better understand our individual strengths/weaknesses. Use frequent reviews to discuss opportunities, prise good work and review weaknesses; discuss what’s good and what’s bad and communicate with us, we may actually have the answer you’ve been looking for!

  1. Be ready for the career waves

84% of us expect to take significant breaks during our working lives, do you have options for these? Also, 86% of us also look at holiday package when deciding to take a job, how do you match up to your competitors?

  1. Embrace alternative work models

Almost 75% of us are happy to work fulltime, but the other 25% want greater flexibility in where, when and how they work. Can your business embrace remote working? Flexible hours away from the 9-5 or can the job be completed in part time hours/days?



We want to progress, we want to learn and we want to feel a connection with our work; this doesn’t mean we need to be promoted but we want to have our careers enhanced, be that through training, different projects or regular feedback to know where we need to develop our skills.


In just 3 years we will account for a third of the global workforce. Can businesses really afford to demonise us? As Mara Swain at Manpower Group put it “what works for Millennials works for the rest of the workforce too”.


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