A new way of conceiving life and work. That’s how we could summarize the imprint millennials are leaving on their respective companies and job positions. Even though there’s no exact date to frame the members of the so-called Generation Y, we could say that they’re those born between the early 80s and mid-90s. They’re reshaping working methods with the help of technology. They’re characterized by seeking greater labour flexibility so that they can manage their time and personal life better and, as reflected by diverse studies, by 2025 they will represent 75% of total labour force worldwide.
Millennials and previous generations
The arrival of millennials into the labour market and their new ways have clashed with previous generations, baby boomers and gen Xers, who have accused them of being apathetic and of working less hours. This criticism comes from a confrontation between two opposite working models. While baby boomers and gen Xers are used to going to their office or customary workplace, following the same schedule and with the intention of staying in the same company almost for life, millennials prefer working from anywhere in the world —thanks to new technologies—,labour flexibility and having the possibility to change companies anytime in order to achieve economic, social and personal improvement.
What is certain is that numbers speak for themselves and refute the reputation previous generations have conferred to millennials. A study by Manpower Group — The Careers of Millennials: Vision 2020 — reflects a different reality: gen Yers work 52 hours on average per week in India; 48 hours in Mexico; and in countries like the United States, Spain or Australia around 45, 43 and 41 respectively. Besides, the report reveals that the members of this generation believe, with a high degree of conviction, that they’re going to work longer than their predecessors. The case in Japan is particularly surprising, since 37% of them think that they will do so until their last day on Earth, while only 3% of their Spaniard counterparts share the same opinion.
Different ways of comprehending work-life balance
Speaking of work-life balance, a report by The Head foundation called “Understanding a misunderstood generation” reveals that it hasn’t got the same meaning for all millennials, since their geographic location is a key factor. While most of them concur that having spare time for themselves is crucial, those in North America and Western Europe point out that the second most important aspect is a flexible schedule; in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Central and Eastern Europe, respect and expertise. Despite these data, over 50% of millennials all over the world would be ready to accept the challenge of becoming leaders in their organizations, even if that meant a greater level of stress and stronger commitment to work duties. Furthermore, in Central and Eastern European countries, more than 40% of them wouldn’t be willing to quit a well-paid, reputable job in order to achieve a better work-life balance.
To fully understand this new working environment, which is being implemented in organizations all over the world by merging old and new, it’s imperative to speak about the binomial millennials-technology. Millennials are connected almost 24 hours a day. This hyperconnectivity may have its pros and cons. On the positive side, it favours the conciliation gen Yers demand (the possibility of working from anywhere, flexible schedule…), but can this be counterproductive in certain occasions?
Millennials and the use of new technologies
In order to answer that question, it suffices to analyze some of the data collected by a survey conducted by Adobe in the USA: 36% of millennials make use of corporate email while watching TV or a movie, 35% when in bed and 28% in the restroom. These numbers reflect how difficult is for them to switch off from work during personal or intimate moments, despite their “more free time for myself” demand. But it seems that this hyperconnectivity is spreading to older generations as well, since the survey also reflects that 63% of gen Xers check their work email during their holiday periods, followed by 62% of millennials and 55% of baby boomers.
Taking into account this technological approach on the part of preceding generations, are we closer to the universalization of the millennial working model? It appears to be the case, since labour force will be comprised mostly of millennials in a near future, but only time will tell. What seems certain is that gen Yers have been facing a prevailing uncertainty situation for years, caused by the global economic climate in which they live, but that didn’t deter them from revolutionizing the way work is carried out. Despite the opinion of previous generations, millennials face the future willing to keep growing professionally and take new challenges. They’re available to work anywhere, anytime… as long as both their professional and personal lives are made compatible.