Millennials Are Changing the Workplace . . . Are You Ready?

Say what you want about “Millennials,” but they are now in a position to take over the American workplace and change the way you recruit.

For the first time ever, the most common age in the workforce (22) falls into Generation Y, otherwise known as the Millennial Generation, according to  The second and third most common ages are 23 and 21, respectively.  This marks the first time since 1947 that the most represented age has been not been in the Baby Boomer Generation.

We all know that Millennials, those born roughly between the early 80s and early 2000s, view work differently than previous generations.  They are stereotyped as self-entitled job hoppers in need a reality check about how work really works.  However, as their numbers increase, it may be the workforce that has to adapt to them, as renowned employee recognition expert Dr. Bob Nelson predicts.

“I’m convinced that as the Millennials come to dominate the workplace in number (an estimated 48% of all workers will be from the Millennial Generation by 2020 and 75% of all workers by 2025), so too will they come to dominate workplace attitudes and expectations,” Dr. Nelson noted in a recent email to subscribers.

While some may view this as a negative, Dr. Nelson urges everyone to embrace this movement.  The Millennial influence could effect changes that would benefit all workers.  For instance, Dr. Nelson said they want to see an increased focus on meaningful work, as well as more recognition and respect for workers.  They want autonomy and flexibility, not to mention a little bit of fun at work.  Furthermore, they want to have continuous opportunities to learn and grow.

As traditional employment fails to live up to these goals, more young workers are turning to contract assignments.  More than half of “independent workers” (contractors, freelancers, consultants, etc.) deliberately chose an independent work arrangement over traditional direct hire positions, according to the MBO Partners 2013 State of Independence Report.  The reasons echo the concerns Dr. Nelson cited.  For instance, 78% of independent workers said they like making a difference with their work.  The report also shows that 45% chose independent work because their previous employers did not recognize their value.

One of the easiest ways to go the independent route is through structured contract staffing arrangements.  In these arrangements, workers perform services for one company while being the legal employer of a third party, such as a recruiting/staffing firm or a contract staffing back-office.  Because much of this work is project-based, contractors can enjoy a wider range of flexible scheduling options and the opportunity to continually learn and grow through a variety of projects.  They can more easily see the impact of their work because they are often completing critical projects or meeting tight deadlines.

Best of all, workers in contract staffing arrangements can enjoy this flexibility, variety, and job satisfaction without sacrificing the perks of traditional employment.  The third party that employs them provides a regular paycheck, typically with direct deposit, and benefits including health, dental, vision, life insurance, and 401(k).

As you know, placing Millennials can be challenging, but they are the future of the American workforce.  You will likely find that offering a variety of enticing contract opportunities will help you attract and retain the best Millennial candidates.

If you do not have the ability to offer benefits and other perks they are looking for, you may also want to align yourself with a contract staffing back-office that can become their legal employer and provide those benefits.

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