“We millennials are more demanding. We want something that is challenging. I cannot imagine myself, for instance, working for one company for 30 years, unless this company continues to challenge me. It may be called a short attention span, but it’s also a challenge. We have to be in environments that are dynamic and ever-changing.”
They are the words of MBA graduate Celine Enriquez, who discussed what her generation wants out of the workplace in an article at online MBA students’ network Business Because.
Enriquez – who graduated from EMLYON Business School and is now a digital marketer for a pharma firm – also highlighted millennials’ global outlook and ever-itchy travel bug, saying: “Technology has opened borders. It’s so easy to communicate with someone halfway across the globe. Part of my job preference therefore, is to eventually be able to work from anywhere in the world.”
But that isn’t all. According to recent research from US financial services firm Bankrate, 28% of millennials have side gigs outside their normal office jobs. Of the people within that segment, 61% work on their external projects at least once a week, and 25% make more than $500 per month.
Given that thirst for constant change and outside commitments, many business leaders may be worried about how to secure the loyalty of millennial staff. But there is another way of looking at this. What can millennials’ views teach us about the priorities we should uphold to achieve effective work-life balance?
The Institute of Leadership & Management's head of research, policy and standards Kate Cooper says: “It’s interesting when you read these articles about what millennials want from work – I’d actually suggest that if you asked people of any age the same questions, they’d say that i) they want demanding and interesting work; ii) they want to be valued, and iii) they want variety. They would probably also want the opportunity to take some time off and go and do something different, knowing that they can come back to the jobs they’ve got.
“So although we attribute a lot of specifics to millennials, of the sort that Celine so eloquently talks about, I’m not so sure whether they’re entirely rooted to that generation – it’s more a question of how you keep any workforce working for you. Interesting work is a major part of that equation. Let people have secondments. Let them go off on sabbaticals. Facilitate their explorations by having deals with other organisations that enable your staff to exchange with theirs. Both sides will be enriched by the results of that experience.”
Cooper adds: “If you look at the sort of things that millennials are asking for, they’re not necessarily problems to solve for 25-year-olds – they’re prospects that could be attractive to everyone. Keeping people interested through variety is really key to a successful work-life balance. Flexible working has traditionally been associated with people trying to combine work with caring responsibilities, but it’s also an opportunity to combine a job with something else – such as a hobby or interest.”
For further insights into millennials, check out this new research from the Institute