Employers and Millennials often have differences in the workplace. That is because employers are mostly older people over the age of 40. They’re set in different ways and have hold true to different values than the younger Millennials. I hate to speak in age categories or generations but it is a good way to highlight the differences between various groups in the workplace.
A recent survey by UNIZO, the organization I currently work for, shows that 6 in 10 entrepreneurs has negative feelings about the so-called Generation Y. They say that young professionals have unrealistic demands in terms of salary and other facilities in the workplace.
Almost 40% of the questioned entrepreneurs believes that Millenials have unrealistic demands in terms of salary, flexibility and working hours. One fifth states that young employees are not motivated enough. Furthermore, the majority (78%) agrees that young employees choose their private lives over their work and almost 53% thinks it’s a disaster that they are not prepared to bind themselves to one employer for life.
I find that these results don’t really surprise me. There have always been differences between different age groups and it hasn’t changed in the past few years. The cliché “Kids these days … “ is used frequently (and by every generation I might add). The only thing that surprised me is that more than 50% of the questioned entrepreneurs still want employees to chain themselves to one employer for an extended period of time. I was under the impression that this was a thing from the past and that employers wanted to have a certain amount of turnover to add some diversity and a pair of fresh eyes to the workplace. Anyway, that is out of the scope of this article.
But are the demands of Millennials really that unrealistic and absurd? What do they (we) really want? Well, one thing is loud and clear. We want Facebook, Twitter and smartphones. We’ve grown up with them and consider them an extension of ourselves, it would be wrong to deny us access to social media when we rely on it for so much. And quite frankly, if employers don’t give us access to social media, we’ll find an employer that will. Simple as that.
This is a major finding from the annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report which surveyed 1 400 college students and 1 400 young professionals under the age of 30. The report states:
“The growing use of the Internet and mobile devices in the workplace is creating a significant impact on job decisions, hiring and work-life balance. The ability to use social media, mobile devices, and the Internet more freely in the workplace is strong enough to influence job choice, sometimes more than salary.”
For 33% of all respondents, the ability to use social media, bring their own tech devices for use at work and work remotely (be it from home or different offices) are more important to them than salary. I can definitely find myself in these numbers. I would gladly accept a job that pays me less but offers me more in terms of facilities and freedom. Flexibility in terms of device choice, social media and working out-of-office is the key here.
So the statement about having unrealistic salary demands doesn’t appear to be true, what we do want is to be paid accord to our job. And really, I found that our salary demands are quite realistic because we recognize the fact that we can’t start on an executive level and that we need to work our way up the ladder just like anyone else. I think this is just a case of a few rotten apples if I may be so blunt, people remember only the bad things. That’s just the way it is.
Anyway, back to technology. Us Millennials don’t hesitate to make our technology demands known. Almost two-thirds ask about the social media policy during a job interview. And it would appear that companies are in fact listening to these demands: 41% of the employed respondents say their companies promote a flexible device and social media policy specifically catered to recruit young professionals.
But there is more, Millennials want to use company devices for personal use. Mixing business and pleasure is part of our lifestyle (and frankly, it would be rather silly that you still have to buy your own laptop and smartphone while you already have one for work). Furthermore, 80% would like to choose the device they use at work, by bringing a personal device or by getting money from the organization to buy their own work devices.
Either way, If you’re banning personal social media use at work, you probably already know it’s not working, but this study confirms it: More than half of respondents say if a company prohibits social media access on the job, they either wouldn’t work there, or would figure out a way to get around the policy (by using their own smartphone for social networking, for example)
Of course, policies need to be set to ensure that company devices and data are safe. You need to make sure that ALL employees (of all ages) understand and follow them. But as this survey shows, if your policies are too draconian they will blow up in your face and you will lose your competitive advantage to more progressive and flexible companies.
Instead, all companies (both large and small alike) should harness the tech savvy that Millennials bring along with them. Smart businesses are already doing so: Nearly 33 percent of the respondents who had jobs say their familiarity with social media and ability to use devices contributed to their hiring.
In any case it will cost time, money and effort, but the results will be more than satisfying and will help you keep or build a competitive advantage and prepare for the future.
Niels Van Hellemont