I’ve read an awful lot of ‘Millennial bashing’ in my time, however over the last week I’ve seen some pretty malicious news stories arguing Millennials are ruining the sanctity of our workplaces. I mean, take this quote from Marketing Week for example;
“Millennials have become a somewhat maligned generation, characterised by their individualistic nature (me, me, me), the value they place on material things and their lack of desire to work for them (see research).”
Research, much like that cited by Marketing Week, does not, in fact, suggest that Millennials have a lack of desire to work, far from it.
In recent years, the focus of our workforce has shifted towards a better work-life balance, which research links to increased employee engagement, productivity and business success. And whilst this shift is being put down to the rising Millennial workforce, I don’t believe they are to be ‘blamed’, because I don’t believe they are the only ones driving this change, and nor do I believe it’s a negative move.
With the rise in mental health awareness campaigns and the increase in reported stress at work and families disrupted by long working hours, it seems this shift reflects that, as a society, we are attempting to find a better balance. A way to manage both our work and personal lives in a mutually beneficial way.
Our work patterns have been challenged by many (see Mental Health Foundation and Time to Change) to be causing an increase in health issues and yet, the Millennial workforce is calling for change, ‘expecting’ flexible working (as one feature put it), and this is deemed as an unwillingness to work.
Personally, my ‘expectation’ for flexible working comes not from a place of laziness but from the hope of a better life, both personally and professionally.
Flexible working has been introduced to ensure that our workforce can maintain their required hours, but also maintain their mental health, their personal commitments and to ensure their lives revolve around more than working, which many of us would struggle to do working a typical 9-5. Particularly as the age of retirement only seems to be going up, it’s more important than ever that we are able to live healthy, happy lives, both in and out of work.
Interestingly as well, quotes much like the one from Marketing Week suggest Millennials are self-centred, which again, is quite contrary to research, which actually indicates that Millennials are most driven to work for companies aiming to better the world.
No one likes the idea of change but, before you write Millennials off as ‘ruining our workplace’, perhaps try ‘improving’ first, and see what good might happen. After all, it won’t be long before they’re running them.