Did Millennials Kill the 9-to-5 Workday, or Just Point Out That It's Dead?
The youngest workers loathe pointlessly rigid schedules and veal-pen cubicles but are enchanted by flexibility and opportunity.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Millennials have taken the workplace by storm. They’re now the largest generation in the workforce and are tossing the 9-to-5 day, with dedicated cubicles and shared offices, out the window. They have fresh ideas for how, when and where we work, and as the younger Generation Z starts clocking in, organizations that haven’t prioritized flexibility and mobility risk losing out on top tier talent.
But before you ditch workplace traditions for trendy options, stop to consider what this generation actually wants from work.
What millennials want most
Numerous studies have been conducted over the past few years to determine exactly what young professionals want from their careers. A global PwC survey of 44,000 millennials found they prioritize balance, smart use of technology and opportunities for growth.
Millennials are mostly comfortable with change. If they take a job at one company, and start to feel overworked or undervalued, they’ll just move on to another company. They certainly don’t want to be chained to a desk for 40-plus hours a week.
Millennials are not lazy. In fact, it's quite the opposite. If they have an employer that enables them to do so, they’ll skillfully blend their work and personal lives to get the balance they’re looking for.
A study by Bentley University found 77 percent of millennials feel a flexible work schedule allows them to be more productive. Furthermore, 84 percent are "always connected" and continue to check their work email after hours. Dropping the 9-to-5 workday seems risky, but in reality it allows these workers to contribute more, more efficiently.
Millennials want flexible work options, but they don’t want to compromise the quality of their work. They shouldn’t have to. They want (and expect) companies to leverage available technology. With business-friendly chat and social tools, collaborative platforms and e-learning programs, there are many ways to use technology effectively, whether for remote work or to enrich skills in the workplace.
Just because millennials will job hop rather than stay where they’re unhappy doesn't mean they’re disloyal. It’s more accurate to describe them as ambitious. Eighty percent of millennials believe they'll only work for three or four companies throughout their careers, and 36 percent think they'll stick with their current employers for three to five years.
Millennials want opportunities to grow and explore their skill sets.
Give ‘em what they want: flexible work
So how can businesses tap into what this generation wants and keep them interested in their careers? Encouraging a culture that embraces flexible schedules and mobile work environments is the best place to start. As a business owner, think about how you can offer more flexibility in your workplace.
- What duties or roles can be performed online or remotely, either on a full or part-time basis? Some typical examples include writing and research, marketing, sales and development.
- How will different teams communicate effectively? Explore collaborative platforms designed for creative roles, or perhaps a solution that combines file sharing and workplace communication (like Dropbox or Google Messenger).
- If you can't provide a fully remote-based work schedule, maybe you can offer a few hours of flex time or one day each week where people have the option to work from home.
Then give ‘em what they need: room to grow
Successful organizations will look for ways to enrich their employees’ work lives. Millennials want room to expand their skill sets, and they want to be acknowledged for a job well done. With the explosion of online learning tools, mastering a new skill or task has never been easier.
If your organization can offer amenities like advanced training, remote or flexible work schedules, the latest and greatest when it come stop technology, and some regular encouragement and appreciation, this generation is much more likely to stay with your company for the long haul.
I think it's good that we’re redesigning the concept of the 9-to-5 workday. Technology allows us to work where we want when we want. For progressive organizations, it makes sense to harness that potential.