Millennials At A Glance: How 'Generation Y' Is Molding The Modern Workforce


Millennials, like baby boomers, are a group defined by their birth dates. A "millennial" refers to someone who was born after 1980. More specifically, millennials are those born between 1977 and 1995 or 1980 and 2000, depending on who is writing about this generation at the moment.

Also referred to as Generation Y, Generation Why, Generation Next, and Echo Boomers, this group has taken over the American workforce. As of 2016, nearly half of the country's employees fall between the ages of 20 and 44 years old. Estimated at 80 million, millennials outnumber baby boomers (73 million) and Generation X (49 million).

The label "Generation Why" refers to the questioning nature of millennials, taught not to take everything at face value but rather to understand why something is. Access to the internet has only fueled this desire. After all, this is the first generation to have grown up entirely with computers. Even many born in those disputed years of 1977 to 1981 had their first interactions with computers in elementary school. Technology has played a crucial role in their lives and it progressed quickly as they grew up. Not surprisingly, millennials are the unofficial tech experts.

Raised during "The Decade of the Child," millennials also benefitted from greater parental attention than in generations past. Typically, this included fathers who were more involved in their children's lives. Their childhoods have influenced their understanding of gender roles in the home and the workplace as well as their future expectations.

Meaningful and inclusive work

Already, millennials have expressed a desire to pursue work that is personally meaningful. They tend to resist corporate hierarchy and are accustomed to getting work done in a variety of environments, often shunning cubicle-confinement. Flexible scheduling is of great appeal to millennials who place a high value on work-life balance.

Many companies are following this trend by providing an employee-centered workplace that is flexible in both place and time. They are changing the traditional approach to management, and are known as multi-tasking team players who thrive on encouragement and feedback. Companies that can appeal to these attributes often see great gains in productivity.

Millennials may also be the generation that closes the gender wage gap by the time they retire. Although women typically earn 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, among the millennials that gap is closing tighter.

Every year since 1979, the U.S. Department of Labor has issued a report on the annual average of women's earnings compared to that of men. In 1979, women earned just 62.3 percent of what men did and by 2015, that reached 81.1 percent.

In that same 2015 report, women in the millennial generation were earning as much, if not more, on average each week than older women, revealing a significant increase in skilled labor jobs that have opened up for women in the workforce. It also tells us that millennial women are competing more and more with their male counterparts in a technologically-driven society.

Last year, millennials edged out Generation X (35 to 50 years old in 2015) as the largest share of the labor force, according to the Pew Research Center. Furthermore, they have also passed baby boomers. With its disproportionately large share of immigrants, and at an age of transition from college to the working world, the millennial generation's workforce is highly likely to grow even further in the near future.

First, immigration to the U.S. will continue to disproportionately enlarge the ranks of the millennial labor force. Immigrants coming to the U.S. are typically in their young working years. Relatively speaking, few immigrants come to the U.S. during childhood or during older adulthood. In the past five years, over half of newly arrived immigrant workers have been millennials.

Furthermore, a significant chunk of the millennial population are 18 to 24-year olds. These are the years when school and college-going are often front-and-center, and not surprisingly, labor force participation is suppressed. As the youngest millennials get older, more of them will be searching for jobs. The millennial generation as a whole, not just the workforce, overtook the baby boomers, in 2016, as the nation's largest living group, according to the US Census Bureau.

Millennials by the numbers

The average millennial stays at her job for 4.4 years, according to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics

Ninety-one percent of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @Work" survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers: translating to 15 to 20 jobs over the course of their working lives

A survey by Net Impact found that 88 percent of workers considered “positive culture" important to their dream job, job-hopping helps workers to learn new skills and roles: workers today know that they could be laid off at any time-after all, they saw it happen to their parents, so they essentially consider themselves “free agents."

Millennials embrace diversity as beneficial to an organization

Greater diversity: according to a study by Fierce, Inc., over 40 percent of survey respondents believe that their organization would benefit from greater diversity

Discrimination in the workplace: 18% say they've seen others discriminated against, 20% say they've seen others discriminated against for political reasons, and 21% say they've seen others discriminated against based on their gender

Gender views: between men and women, nearly twice as many women than men noted they felt they have been discriminated against based on their gender (21% vs 12% respectively)

Workplace safety: one in five millennials surveyed have felt unsafe at work, but for women that increased to more than a quarter

Workplace transparency and inclusivity: millennials, overwhelmingly, are in favor of being educated and involved in all workplace practices, a disengaged millennial will often lead to employment departure costing the company valuable resources

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