4 Ways Millennials Are Rewriting Career Rules and Changing The Workforce

by Ellie Martin
Image Entertainment

The opinions expressed about millennials are often divisive, especially when it comes to the working world. Some believe millennials are entitled, with tiny attention spans and careless attitudes.

Then there are those who argue these digital natives are bringing about positive change with their affinity for diversity, inclusiveness, community and individuality. Whatever an employer's bias may be, there'S no ignoring the up-and-coming generation's vastly different perception of how work should be done.

Millennials hop from one job to another after only two years of tenure, which is by far the shortest average tenure when compared to Generation Xers and the Baby Boomers. As replacing millennials is costly, companies are looking for ways to entice young workers.

This desire to retain young talent has led to some small changes that could ripple into a much more significant shakeup of standard corporate culture.

1. Millennials make up the largest workforce in history.

Millennials are shaping up to be the largest workforce ever. There are 80 million millennials in the United States, around 4 million more than their Baby Boomer predecessors. This makes them the largest living generation.

Millions of them have already joined the workforce, and, currently, they make up an astonishing 36 percent of it. By the year 2025, three out of four workers will be millennials.

They're already making changes to workplace culture, and not just because of their generation's size. Millennials want a say in how things are run, and most believe their managers could learn a few things from them.

They desire leaders who are open, clear, honest and communicative; ones who will collaborate with sincerity and transparency.

2. They have mentors instead of managers.

Millennials thrive under leadership that shares knowledge, tools and resources. They try to avoid leadership that relies on doling out information on a need-to-know basis. One of their chief concerns is connecting with others.

Ruling with an iron fist will no doubt be met with a firm refutation from this cohort. Decisive leaders who collaborate will undoubtedly support their productivity and their retention.

The quasi-flat management structure they endorse is vastly different from the one the older generations working alongside them have largely embraced. This isn't to say millennials are anti-authority, however.

While it is important that their input is valued and not ignored, they are still very interested in receiving mentorship, and actively seek out continual feedback and meaningful career advice.

Indeed, they report wanting feedback more often than most other generations, even in the form of daily evaluations. This change in evaluation frequency could lead to the demise of annual reviews.

3. They prioritize people over profit.

A positive work culture that's aligned with their values is of the utmost importance to millennials. They desire employers to do more than make great workspaces -- they want them to be socially conscious.

A staggering 95 percent of millennials, according to a Bentley University study, believe a company's ethics is an important factor.

Almost a quarter of them indicated they cared very deeply about their employer's environmental policies.

They pride themselves on being attuned to social and cultural shifts, and expect the companies they work for to do the same.

If they believe a company has no positive social impact, or worse, has a negative impact, they are far more likely to leave.

4. They work outside of the traditional 9-5.

Millennials don't like being told how to do their work or when to do it. They rate flexibility as their number one concern, rating it above even health care coverage.

In fact, 45 percent of millennials reported they would take a substantial pay cut in exchange for greater flexibility at work, and an overwhelming majority (77 percent), said that flexible work schedules would promote higher productivity for them.

Moreover, according to the aforementioned study conducted by Bentley University, the vast majority of millennials check up on work emails after hours, further blurring the line between work and personal life.

It's expected more companies will tap into the power of the internet to give young workers a sense of work-life balance. This could include completely remote positions.

By and large, millennials are a generation that wishes to cause change and be heard. They want to be mentored by their superiors while they try to eschew traditional hierarchy.

They want leaders who appreciate teamwork and connectedness. They want better work-life balance with the flexibility to deal with life events without disrupting their productivity. Millennials are helping usher in virtual work and telecommuting on a larger scale.

They require their employers to be open, honest and socially conscious, and are encouraging flat management structures with decentralized authority.

Millennials' unique perspective on work will reshape the way we do business, quite possibly in permanent and profound ways.