Employer Branding

Work Ethics You Can Learn from Millennials

Poor millennial. When they’re not being blasted by Simon Sinek as participation-trophy whiners with an alcoholic-level addiction to WhatsApp, they’re being told by TIME that their failure to afford house prices means they are developmentally stunted.

But as millennial superstar Taylor Swift wisely pointed out, haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate. And millennials have good reason to shake criticism off, because it turns out that they kind of have this whole career thing sussed.

Here’s what you should be learning from them:

1.Education shouldn’t stop at school

For those convinced that there are more flakes amongst millennials than in a Mr Whippy ice cream van, the following statistic is a favourite: one in five millennials brazenly admit their intention to take a career break.

The reason for this lay about behaviour? To undertake further education or training. millennials are almost unanimous (93%) in both their desire for lifelong learning and their willingness to invest their own time and money into it.

Perhaps millennials are just intellectual snobs. Or perhaps they’ve taken on board the advice of reports like this one, which points out that because technology is accelerating at an unprecedented rate, the business world requires a workforce with adaptable and update-able skills. Only those who constantly nurture their knowledge base, through lifelong learning, will succeed.

2. A work-life blend works both ways

A shocking 95% of millennials have the temerity to claim that finding a balance between work and life is important to them. They undoubtedly expect to spend time with friends and family and indulge in hobbies and everything. Even more annoyingly, they’re completely right to do so, because workaholics are almost always less productive, efficient, and innovative than their colleagues who work sensible hours.

Millennials have picked up on the fact that the same technology which allows 70% of them to check their emails outside the office would allow them to work from home (which three-quarters of them would like to do). Bosses, who like the former but forbid the latter, would do well to read the multiple studies that show millennial are correct in their assessment that such flexibility would make them work harder and achieve more.

3. Travelling is good for you

The ‘gap yah’ Millennials may be one stereotype that is somewhat justified: almost four in ten millennials want to take time off work to travel. Moreover, 86% of them list a company’s holiday and time off policies as one of their top considerations when applying for jobs.

Fun fact: taking your holiday allowance makes you more likely to receive a bonus or a raise. Really. Part of the reason may be that so-called ‘work martyrs’ tend to become so stressed and unhappy that they’re not particularly effective employees. And while some millennials undoubtedly spend most of their career break at the bottom of an alcohol bucket in Koh Pha-Ngan, many more use the time to gain global experience, learn new languages, build their confidence, and be inspired by different cultures and ideas.

4. Change is a good thing

It’s true that millennials are job-hoppers: two-thirds don’t wish to stay longer than two years in a single role, and barely 16% expect to keep working for their current employer for the next decade.

Like the heartless capitalists they are, millennials seem happy to leave corporations in the lurch just because another business values them more (the average job-hopper gains an 8-10% increase in salary). Some mercenary types even point to evidence that staying longer than two years at any one employer results in 50% lower lifetime earnings, probably because job-hoppers have more varied experiences and skills, as well as larger professional networks.

5. It’s all about me

Many millennials seem to be under a delusion that employee treatment and satisfaction should be an important consideration of any business. One-quarter of them even name it as the most important element of long-term success.

Gallup (undoubtedly staffed by millennials) had the gall to run an in-depth study on the matter. They concluded that millennial were spot-on: the yearly cost of employee disengagement was $450-550 billion in the US alone.

6. Values are important

Entitled enough to think being true to their moral compass is necessary, more than half of millennials are unwilling to ever work for an organisation that does not share their personal values. The same proportion has refused to undertake a task they felt conflicted with their personal ethics. Amongst millennials in senior positions, these figures rise.

Those who think millennials should just suck it up might want to look into the business costs of a negative, unmotivated workforce. Studies show that happy employees really are more productive employees, which is something for everyone to smile about.

About the author: Beth Leslie is a professional career advice and lifestyle writer.  She is currently a writer and blog editor for Inspiring Interns.

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