The Millennial Generation is the largest generation in today's workforce, representing 35% of the U.S. workers, according to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. While it is unlikely that they will overtake the peak size of the Baby Boomer workforce (66 million Baby Boomers were part of the labor force in 1997), since the Census projects that the entire Millennial population will peak at 75 million in the United States, it's clear that Millennial workers are a force to be reckoned with—and aren't leaving work anytime soon. (In fact, the size of the Millennial labor force continues to grow.)
Sure, previous generations may gripe about managing Millennials, but in truth, they (or we, rather) have a lot to offer as employees.
Here are five ways Millennial employees benefit the workforce:
1. They don't shy away from job changes.
According to a Gallup survey, 35 percent of workers reported that they have changed jobs within the past three years. That's a far cry from the steadfast commitment of previous generations, who often held onto their job for many years at a time.
"Wait," you may be thinking. "Isn't that a bad thing?"
No—but it does mean change. It's forcing employers to stay competitive to attract top talent. Employers must adapt to the changing workforce by offer better compensation and perks that will improve work-life balance for Millennial workers, along with other employees. That means happier workers overall—and better companies.
2. They value communication with their managers.
Millennial workers want frequent feedback and ongoing dialogues with their managers. That can allow employees see how their work aligns with their employer's mission, and in turn allows managers to recognize their employees' contributions. This can improve both the business and workers' attitudes about it: It becomes a shared effort, with everyone contributing to and valuing the success of the company.
3. They value flexibility.
Gone are the days when full-time employees had to be glued to their desks all day. Millennials want flexibility in their work schedules. That means cultivating a work-life balance and have the ability to work remotely.
As it turns out, employees are better engaged with their work when they do it off-site. The boost in engagement is at its peak when employees spend at 60-80 percent of their workweek off site. (As a full-time freelancer as of a month and a half ago, I can attest to that!)
4. They value meaning in their work.
Thirty percent of Millennials say meaningful work is important to them, according to the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. That's in contrast to only 12 percent of managers. That means they want to make a different—and companies will have to adapt to accomodate them. They need to provide Millennial employees with opportunities to make an impact on the products they create, the people who use them, and the company culture as a whole.
On a similar note, they value collaboration with their coworkers and teams. This can lead to greater innovation.
5. They are results driven.
With more competency-based education models, such as Udemy.com, Coursera, and Khan Academy, complementing—and at times replacing—degrees, Millennials, particularly those in leadership positions, are demonstrating that they care more about what you've done than what degree you have. This can open up doors for young adults entering the workforce without having gone to college—though it's still true that higher education opens up doors for many people.
They also tend to eshew statuses and hierarchies, according to Malcolm Gladwell, because, as the generation that pioneered social media, they believe in strong networks.