By 2015, 75 percent of the world’s employees will be young people (ie., the Millennial Generation or Gen Y). The prospects for economic prosperity for this generation are not particularly encouraging, and yet Millennials have high and positive expectations.
If we could point to one trend that paints a rather dark picture, it is the coming boom of large numbers of young males with few prospects for economic success. According to a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch report, market turmoil is coming in 2015 due to an underappreciated huge male youth boom (ages 15-29), and the problem is there aren’t enough jobs globally to employ them (180 million in India, 170 million China, 160 million in Africa). The reports goes on to conclude that the more angry young men there are to fight over opportunities and marriageable women the greater the negative impact on economic and social structures.
At the same time, Millennials are optimistic and connected. According to Erica Dhawan, an MBA student at MIT and MPA at Harvard, specializing in Gen Y, and a featured speaker at the recent World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland: “Technology has convinced Millennials that a single person’s voice can make a difference.” She goes on to argue that Millennials want to be coached, not supervised and mentored formally by older generations.
Josh Bersin, writing in Forbes about Millennials cites a study by Deloitte and a similar study in India which shows nearly 50 percent of the Millennials in the studies are already in leadership positions, and “most companies are discovering that supporting and retaining this talent requires a new way of doing business.”
Some key findings Deloitte’s third annual Millennial Survey of nearly 7,800 Millennials from 28 countries across Western Europe, North America, Latin America, BRICS, and Asia-Pacific about business, government, and innovation are:
Deloitte concludes, as a result of the economic pressures to flatten organizations, they must build “corporate ‘lattices” rather than corporate ladders for Millennials. These young people in their 20s would like new jobs and new assignments every 12-24 months and won’t wait for 3-5 years for a promotion. The study also points to Millennials' preference for organizations that have open, transparent and inclusive leadership styles; and they thrive on fairness and performance-based appraisals, not tenure and seniority. Millennials would prefer to have access to a number of peers and other leaders, rather that be limited to working with one leader or manager, and finally; Millennials thrive on innovation and change.
The Pew Center’s massive new report on the state of affairs for the Millennial generation is full of contradictions about them. For example:
The Millennial Compass Report completed by the MLS Group and the Ashbridge Business School in the U.K. recently completed a study entitled Truths About the 30-and-under Generation in the Workplace. The study highlights issues of relevance to today’s employers, with the some conclusions that may be startling to some.
As many experts have observed, Millennials are very different from previous generations. The Millennial Compass Report, which surveyed 1,293 employees in the U.S., India, China, the U.K., France and Brazil shows that Millennials “are focused on achieving through personal networks and technology; having good work-life balance; and getting high levels of support from their managers. They don’t want to be tied to an organization, a timetable, or a hierarchy, and they’d rather avoid the stress they see their senior leaders shouldering.” Other conclusions of the report that are noteworthy:
These reports underscore a number of Millennial studies in recent years, with particular reference to Millennials’ different attitudes and expectations towards work and careers compared to the current dominant Baby Boomers. Also clear is Millennials' definition of loyalty to the organization and expectations for frequent career or job changes. Millennials have a very different perspective and expectation of the role and behavior of managers, seeing them more in an encouraging, coaching, and peer capacity, something that is currently at odds with the current generation of Baby Boomer managers who see their role as one associated more with power and position.
It’s becoming clear for these reports and the current socio-demographic changes occurring that both businesses and governments will need to pay a lot more attention to structuring the workplace and social policy to better adapt to the realities of the next generation.
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