The baby boomer generation sought lifetime jobs in the public and private sectors, and many boast decades of experience with a single company. Things are quickly changing, however, and today’s younger job seekers have a different set of workplace requirements.
Although millennials are often branded as lazy, flaky, and flighty, that’s a common misconception. In the past, staying with a company for years meant an increase in salary and respect, greater responsibilities, and the chance to work your way to the top of the ladder. Nowadays, with raises unlikely and prestige perhaps even less likely, young job seekers come to the job market with new workplace criteria.
Believe it or not, the overwhelming majority of millennials would even take a pay cut to work with a company whose values align with their own. That’s a bold statement to make, one that confirms the theory that young job seekers are after more than just a salary. Here, we’ll explore what they are looking for in terms of benefits, values, work-life balance, and more.
Diversity & Inclusivity
As the world grows increasingly diverse, many of today’s young job seekers come from underprivileged backgrounds, different cultural heritages, or belong to communities like the disability community or the LGBTQ+ community. In the workplace, anti-discrimination policies can help these individuals feel safer and more accepted.
However, businesses these days won’t get away with simply updating their diversity policies. Employees want to see a real effort toward positive change, whether that means annual company donations to The Trevor Project (a nonprofit organization focused on suicide prevention efforts in the LGBTQ+ community) or company-sponsored language-learning classes or app subscriptions.
In cities with large Hispanic populations, for instance, assisting employees in their Spanish language learning journey will allow the whole company to work together smoothly and communicate more efficiently. If an employee is hard of hearing, the office could partake in sign language lessons as part of office inclusivity. These are just a few examples of how companies can easily promote diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, all while enriching the office experience.
Younger job seekers are also likely to be more invested in global sustainability efforts. In addition to wide-scale company efforts to curb or offset greenhouse gas emissions, companies can make small in-office changes to boost the well-being of employees and the planet as a whole.
More efficient electronics management, like motion sensors and regular cleaning, helps young employees feel more at ease about their environmental impact. Companies can also employ sustainable dining practices, virtual conferences, and green purchasing to reduce their carbon footprints. Eco-friendly paints and furnishings have the added benefit of improving air quality and preventing illnesses.
Flexible Work-Life Balance
Over the past year and a half, COVID-19 has shifted a large portion of office work online. Even as some companies instituted mandatory in-office return dates, many young workers decided the time was ripe to quit and transition to remote work opportunities like freelancing.
The traditional 9-to-5 job was never meant to be worked by two (or more) household members just to make ends meet. A rising cost of living led more women to enter the workforce in the 1970s, but far from acting as a great equalizer, this phenomenon led many women to take on two jobs — one outside the house and one inside.
Today, millennial parents are revolutionizing the workplace. Many believe childcare should be an obligatory offering by employers, not merely a benefit. They also demand extended parental leave and increased work-life balance. Flexible work environments are a must, to cover occasions like children’s doctor’s appointments and home maintenance visits.
Progressive leave policies are essential to capturing the skilled segment of the workforce that has to work both inside and outside the home, including mothers and individuals supporting themselves and their families off of a single income.
With low salaries and high cost of living comes more obstacles on the road to homeownership as well. High levels of millennial debt, combined with tighter lending standards, have led to a significant decline in levels of millennial home buying in certain markets. The younger generation still aspires to own, however. As a result, they highly value jobs that offer perks like student loan repayment programs, retirement account matching, and access to financial advisors.
Work That Makes a Difference
The rise of the millennial workforce has also driven the evolution of tech. The growth of cloud-based technologies and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies means it’s now easier than ever for employees to work from any time, anywhere. It also means an increased demand in new occupations, from social media managers to UX specialists to influencers.
Many of these jobs can be performed remotely, with the younger generation leading the way in some fields. Other occupations may not be remote-friendly, like environmental scientists and schoolteachers, but that doesn’t mean the younger generation is shying away. Above all, they want to perform work they’re passionate about rather than accept a job for the money.
A job is more than just a salary. It’s where most people spend the majority of their waking hours, making a workplace its own community. Younger job seekers want their workplace communities to be built on mutual respect, diversity, sustainability, and flexibility. After all, in a healthy workplace, our work enriches our lives and our lives enrich our work.
Noah Rue is a journalist and content writer from Boise, Idaho, US. He is fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t searching out his next great writing opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices and head to the mountains to disconnect.
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