Millennials – loosely defined as the generation born between 1982 and 2004 – often get a bad rap from the media. They’re constantly characterized as lazy, entitled, and having little regard for tradition and the values of previous generations. And yet, a recent study suggests that while they do things differently from their parents and grandparents, they might actually be changing the American workplace for the better.
Not Afraid to Change Jobs
The first thing that separates millennial workers from previous generations is their willingness to switch jobs. There was a time when people were expected to get a job at a relatively young age and stay there for years, and while there are still some people who can stay at a job for practically a lifetime, that is not the norm for the current generation of workers. Whether it’s due to layoffs or simply a willingness to try new things, millennials are far more likely to have at least a few jobs over a period of a few years. That was once the kind of thing that was a red flag to employers when they saw it on a resume, but young people are doing this while being able to command relatively good salaries. If they don’t get these salaries and the benefits that come with a good job, they will go elsewhere. When they combine that with the skills and experience they gain from working several jobs, millennials command a surprising amount of leverage on the job market.
Flexibility and the Ability to Work from Home
Working from home has become easier than ever before, and a lot of millennials have taken full advantage of it. They will leave home for a job, but they are just as likely to stay home and telecommute. That means that they don’t have to adhere to a traditional 9-to-5 work schedule. They care deeply about having a good balance between their jobs and the rest of their lives, possibly because it is more possible for them to achieve that balance than previous generations could. This desire for flexibility might come off as lazy entitlement to someone who feels like people need to work a standard work shift at one job for years. In other minds, flexibility and the ability to work from home keeps millennials happy, arguably turning them into better employees.
So, does all of this make for a better workplace? Older and more traditional workers might not like it, but things change, and we would be doing younger generations a disservice if we fought that change. There might be a conflict now between young and older workers, but employers who embrace these changes will have happier staff in the future. That alone could make it worth hiring employees who can telecommute and who have worked several jobs in their shorter lives.