With the millennial generation almost fully immersed into the working world, their impact on employer expectations are now coming to fruition. For example, no longer are flexible working arrangements for new parents alone and it’s time to bust the ‘mum-myth’ once and for all. In a four-year study by PwC* they discovered that flexible working hours were more important to the millennial generation than cash bonuses, something that has been a gradual shift in desires since the ‘baby-boomer’ generation moved into retirement mode.
But what’s so great about it? With flexible working hours comes control over work/life balance, more time for personal development and leisure time, in addition to opportunities to care for children or other dependents. The need for working patterns that break the 9-5 mould is on the rise in part to the millennial’s reinforcement of the gig economy. What’s different about this generation is that they no longer want flexible hours, they expect it. If a company cannot afford to offer it, they risk losing out on a highly skilled workforce who know they can find it elsewhere.
We know companies are worried about being able to offer flexible working hours for some roles but not all, opening themselves up to discrimination and a disgruntled workforce. Moreover, could the teamwork dynamic be shattered if no one is in at the same time to create the cohesion? Truth be told, the positives far outweigh the potential pitfalls, but only if employers are ready to come around to the millennial’s way of thinking.
PwC’s research highlighted that a millennial’s use of technology and affinity to the digital world sets them apart from other workforce generations. Having grown up with WiFi, smartphones and social media, they are, as PwC explains: “The first generation to enter the workplace with a better grasp of a key business tool than more senior workers.” With that in mind, they have the tools to work in exactly the same way and be just as productive away from the workplace as if they were there. Ultimately, millennials believe that as long as they can get the job done why should it matter where they do it?
We know from the companies that we work with; flexible working hours are a huge draw for talented millennials and they’ve made great strides to put these benefits in place as quickly as possible. Legally employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment with their employer can make the request for flexible working, whether it’s accepted is another matter. But with an even more formidable Generation Z hot on the heels of millennials, and an even bigger expectation for their needs to be met, can you really afford not to?
*Millennials at work, Reshaping the workplace, PwC 2011