Generation Y: Understanding the Work Habits of Millennials

Guest Contributorby Russel Cooke | Posted | Career Management

Generation Y: Understanding the Work Habits of Millennials

There is a huge generational shift taking place in today’s workforce. The first wave of Generation Y has arrived. But they aren’t having an easy time of it.

For the first time in American history, a generation can look forward to earning less than their parents. Millennials face a different world than the one their parents did at the same age. Outsourcing, inflation, technological development, and automation conspire to create circumstances that threaten to make luddites out a generation.

Despite the future’s uncertain outlook and the exasperated tone of many articles, Millennials seem uniquely suited to surviving in the modern workplace. More flexible and adaptable than their parents, Generation Y is at ease in the diversified modern economy.

Millennials seek work-life balance

Millennials don’t expect to spend their entire life working for one employer in an office, rather, they expect to be mobile, working from home, the office, or cafes at will. They don’t think it’s necessary to come into the office every day, and many of them believe they work better at from home than from an office. They often work outside of normal business hours, with about a fifth of them identifying as “night owls.” 

In other words, they seek a better work-life balance than their parents. This isn’t the only way they want to stay mobile: most of them only expect to stay in a given job for about three years before moving on to the next opportunity. More than any cohort before, this is a generation of free agents, born freelancers who work first for themselves and second for their actual employer.

In a generation that is almost one-quarter self-employed, it’s not surprising that people don’t feel tied to a single employer. Millennials are constantly looking for better opportunities, even if they are happy at their current job.

Generation Y is also more independent than their parents. About half would like to start their own business within the coming five years, and today they supplement their income with hobbies they’ve transformed into moneymaking ventures using modern tools like Etsy or Cafepress.

Infographic: work habits of Generation Y

Take a look at this infographic providing an overview of the work habits of this generation of workers, then tell us what you think. Sound like a Millennial you know?

Tips for engaging Millennial employees

Want to keep Millennial employees engaged? Here are three tips that can help:

1. Manage each employee (no matter the age!) as individuals. Get to know them - understand their career aspirations, development needs and coach to their specific needs.

2. Develop the leadership skills of frontline managers. Research shows that frontline managers aren’t being given the leadership tools to succeed, despite how important they are to achieving business results. Good leaders develop an understanding of diverse communication styles, and a successful leader knows how to leverage people’s strengths. So provide your leaders with the tools and training they need to succeed.

3. Adopt talent management best practices. Millennials need and appreciate performance management as an on-going (versus once-a-year) practice. To deliver a positive work experience you need to have processes in place that ensures employees receive frequent feedback that is used to reinforce or redirect behavior and drive high performance.

Your turn: What other tips do you suggest for engaging and retaining Millennial employees?

How to Engage Millennials

Learn how to engage and retain younger talent in your organization


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How to Engage Millennials

Learn how to engage and retain younger talent in your organization


Read Now


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