The generation known as Millennials, generally agreed to be those born between 1981 and the late ‘90s, are the largest generation in the US workforce and by 2020 will make up 35% of the global workforce. With Generation Z, or the post-Millennials joining that workforce right now, in two years’ time, we’re looking at over half of the planet’s workers being under 40. If the average age of first-time managers is 30 and the average age of people in leadership training is 42, according to Harvard Business Review, the older Millennials, at 37, are at their peak and set to take over.
With an average of a decade of experience already, and with the Baby Boomer generation retiring fast, the Millennials are ready for more senior roles and have a number of traits enabling them to jump ahead of the older Gen X employees into those senior roles. The world of work has had to drastically change to incorporate millennial thinking already, so it’s a natural progression that in many sectors they will be best placed to lead.
Many characteristics of Millennials that were originally perceived as negatives forced changes in both the attitudes of employers and the workplace itself. Millennials were raised with an innate self-confidence, schooled to believe they could be whoever they wanted to be and go wherever they wanted to go. They want life experiences and multiple options. Average job tenure for millennial employees is two years, compared to five for Generation X and seven for the outgoing Baby Boomers. Their commitment and loyalty is to themselves, to their own career and their lifestyle outside of work, rather than their current employer: and they won’t stay if there’s no perceived gain for them. This attitude was originally seen as selfish, but over time has seen huge changes for everyone in terms of work/life balance and how we view our careers and lives.
Similarly, growing up attached to a mobile phone and with no memory of life without the internet was once mocked, but now presents us with a generation of technology-literate communicators. Tech has moved at such speed in the last decade, that Millennials have hugely valued skill sets that employers need. Another trait was their perceived need for instant gratification or a lack of patience – but again, rather than change them, the world changed for the better to accommodate it. Speed is now vital and customer experience is high on the agenda. Millennials’ beliefs and attitudes have also had a similar positive knock-on effect on flexibility in the workplace, training opportunities and the nature of feedback and mentoring.
The impact of Millennials in the workplace has been enormous and the changes they have influenced are set to become the norm as they become business leaders across the world. However, as they approach 40 themselves, there will be millions of Generation Z employees with their own ideas hot on their heels…