Talent Management Blog

While our book, The 2020 Workplace, predicts Gen Y will make up 50 percent or more of the workplace by the year 2020, what we did not predict was where Gen Ys would want to work: small companies.

According to a survey of 285,000 Gen Ys, or millennials, 47 percent work at companies with fewer than 100 people. The national average for all ages in 2011 was 37 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As the article states, even Google, which has long been on the “best places to work” lists, has trouble keeping Gen Ys who want to find fulfillment in striking out on their own.

Rather than calling Gen Ys the “Entitled Generation,” think of them as the “Entrepreneurial Generation” — looking for meaning in their work, flexibility in where and how they work, and being ambitious go-getters.

In our own Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @ Work” Survey of 1,189 knowledge workers and 150 managers, this portrait of Gen Ys is emerging:

  • Job hopping is the new normal: Ninety-one percent of millennials (born between 1977 and 1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years. That means they would have 15 to 20 jobs across the course of their working lives!
  • Triple bottom line is a key value: Sixty-nine percent of millennials agree that companies will increasingly use their corporate social responsibility programs as a means to attract, engage and retain top talent. Think about how your talent management programs feature how your organization engages people, profit and the planet.
  • Workplace flexibility is the top driver for employment and trumps salary and career progression: Thirty-nine percent of millennials say workplace flexibility is a top driver of employer attractiveness. What was surprising is that 35 percent of knowledge workers across multiple generations also feel this way. The big disconnect? Only 22 percent of managers think workplace flexibility is a driver for employer attractiveness.

What can large employers do?

  1. Get serious about offering and communicating the value of workplace flexibility. Encourage senior leaders to model this value with their direct reports.
  2. Research your Gen Y employees the way you research your consumers. At our next 2020 Workplace Network member meeting, American Express will share how it has begun to understand its millennial workers better.
  3. Communicate the company’s mission and values. According to a survey by NetImpact, 58 percent of Gen Ys said they would take a 15 percent pay cut to work for a company whose values match their own.

It’s a brave new world emerging for Gen Ys. Are you ready?

About The Author

Jeanne Meister and Steve Dahlberg

Jeanne C. Meister is co-author of The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (Harper Business, 2010) and co-host of the Social Learning Boot Camp. Jeanne is an internationally recognized workplace-learning consultant dedicated to delivering competitive advantage, innovation and improved business results for organizations. She was most recently vice president of Accenture Learning. Steven Dahlberg is partner and vice president of innovation for Future Workplace and co-host of the Social Learning Boot Camp. He collaborates across sectors to assist organizations in developing and applying creativity, innovation and learning. He co-hosts the Creativity in Play radio show, authored the foreword to Education is Everybody’s Business, and has written for Training magazine. Steven serves on the board of the National Creativity Network and has taught "Creativity + Social Change" at the University of Connecticut.

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