Millennials, some of them now aged in their mid 30s, are already having a major influence on how business is conducted.
The generation which supposedly can do almost anything with an electronic device, while texting and posting to Twitter at the same time, will by 2025 make up of three-quarters of Australia’s work force.
Recruiters and human resource departments around the world have been quietly changing their processes to accommodate this emerging work force to make sure organisations are attractive to millennials.
Anthony Mitchell, the co-founder and Chief Potential Officer of Australian consultancy Bendelta, which focuses on designing organisations and leaders for the cyber-physical age, says millennials are both different and the same.
“Humans just don’t change very much from generation to generation,” he says. “Since Roman times, there have been commentators saying that younger generations are ungrateful whingers who will surely be the downfall of society.”
However, generations are different from each for many reasons.
“Firstly, there’s the impact of workforce supply and demand,” says Mitchell. “Those who enter the workforce in a recession with a surfeit of talent in the market have very different views around their relationship with their employer than those who’ve only seen boom times and a war for talent.
“Secondly, you are going to have a very different view of the world if you’ve grown up in the age of social media and been educated around issues such as climate change. You are simply likely to be a more globally aware person who is self-empowered around expecting information.”
Here are five ways millennials are influencing business:
1. They interview companies, not the other way around.
Millennials won’t work for just anyone. And it’s not just the job itself or the pay packet, millennials want the opportunity to develop their skills and their careers.
“They are not whingers,” says Mitchell. “They do have high expectations of working in an organisation which provides freedom, creativity, purpose, connection and transparency. These are now baseline requirements.”
Many millennials would be happy not having a title.
“They are children of new technologies driven by agile methodologies,” says Mitchell. “They don’t define themselves by the number of staff or size of office they have. They define themselves by how exciting or meaningful the projects are that they get to work on.
“While pay remains a hygiene factor, once this is achieved, many are more motivated by increased learning opportunities than by bonuses.”
David Jones, senior managing director of specialist recruiter Robert Half Asia Pacific, says millennials generally make their career aspirations clear and remuneration and rewards are not always their top priority.
“They thrive in a flexible and transparent workplace with open lines of communication across the business and they look for professional development programs which ensure their needs for career advancement are met,” he says.
2. They want to make a difference.
Jorn Lyseggen, the Norwegian founder of global media monitoring service Meltwater, is upbeat about millennials among his 1600 staff.
Millennials hold much of the cultural brains trust in his company. Of the 70 staff who have been with him 10 years, most of them are millennials. This contradicts the often repeated piece of so-called wisdom that millennials don’t stick around in one job for too long.
“They don’t just want a job, they want to make a difference,” he told Business Insider during a visit to Sydney.
Anthony Mitchell at Bendelta says millennials want to have a meaningful role.
“They’ve grown up a more holistic view of themselves and don’t draw lines between their work persona and who they are as a person,” he says.
“Millennials do ask more questions and want more information. They’ve grown up knowing that the world’s information is available to them on their phone, so they want ‘informational equality’. And they expect that they should be able to get that information instantaneously.”
3. They pay attention to social, and not traditional, media.
The influence from social media can be greater than traditional media. What their peers say, not media commentators, matters.
Seven out of ten millennials either read or watch content from social media at least once a day. A quarter make purchases at least once a week based on things they’ve seen on social media, according to research by YouGov.
When they wake each day more than 80% of millennials reach for their smartphone before they even think about breakfast, according to the 2017 Digital Australia report. In fact, most have either their smartphone or ipad in their hands most of the day.
This is all part of digital disruption which has demolished half of the top 500 companies in Australia since 2000.
And millennials who don’t get the digital experience they expect will move on to another product or service provider who will.
4. Transparency, collaboration, flexibility.
Australian companies have already started adapting their hiring to meet this generational change.
Among the top qualities brought by millennials to the workplace is an increased emphasis on collaboration and transparency, according to a survey of Australian CFOs by specialised recruiter Robert Half.
The employers also see increased flexibility (44%) among millennials, a greater emphasis on soft skills such as teamwork and problem solving (43%), increased mentoring programs (38%), and greater emphasis on communication practices (22%).
“Having grown up with accessible technology at their fingertips, millennials are well-equipped to help companies transform into more agile and responsive enterprises,” says David Jones, senior managing director of Robert Half Asia Pacific.
“We’re living in exciting times where new technologies increasingly enable a wave of ‘game-changers’ determined to disrupt industry players who don’t step up to the plate.”
5. Funds management
Millennials are bringing a fundamental shift in how people deal with money.
The fintech disruptors, such as Stockspot and Afterpay in Australia and more in the pipeline, are increasingly gaining in the financial services sector.
And millennials are gaining an increasing share of funds under management. Their share of superannuation fund balances more than doubled in the decade between September 2007 (6.4%) and September 2017 (14.6%), according to Roy Morgan Research.
They are still way behind the baby boomers, who hold just over half the superannuation money in Australia, but this will change in time.
“It is a major challenge for superannuation funds to engage the younger generations in a long term issue such as superannuation, when they are most likely to have shorter term priorities such as housing affordability and lifestyle,” says Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director at Roy Morgan Research.
“Concerns relating to rule changes to superannuation that are likely to occur over the many years involved and difficulties in accessing funds, are also likely to be contributing to a general lack of engagement by the young in superannuation.
“This research has shown that due to the compulsory nature of superannuation, Millennials, Generation Z and Generation X are where the greatest growth potential now lies.
“Baby Boomers and Pre-Boomers are becoming less significant for superannuation growth in the long term due to retirement and the associated drawing down of their superannuation balances.”