If heredity and environment win equal pride of place in molding and determining a person’s character; it follows inevitably that a whole generation will display certain traits of character. When classifying people into generations, we call all the people born between 1977 and 1997 ‘Millennials’. Countless articles have been written characterizing this generation, and assessing how their common traits shape their role in the workforce.
This group, more than any other, has been and will continue to be affected by the recession. There’s mounting evidence that the American labor market may never return to its pre-recession composition. A McKinsey & Co. study reported that 65% of U.S. corporations have restructured their workforce and have no plans to return to pre-recession employment, but rather are opting for contingent and contract work when the need for expansion arises. A 2013 Gallup poll reported one of every five workers is now part-time. And, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 30% of all part-timers fall into the involuntary category.
According to predictions made by industry analysts, by the year 2020, contingent workforce will grow by 40%. At that time, approximately 65 million people are expected to be working in alternative work arrangement which are very different from traditional jobs, with benefits and insurance. Employment as a concept would take on new meaning, as half such workers would be comprised of the Millennial Generation, who are now currently between the ages of 18-35,
Traits typically ascribed to the Millennial generation include “tech savvy”, “social”, “limited employer loyalty”, “insisting on a work-life balance”, and “socially responsible”. Many speculate on the growing number of Millennials accepting temporary positions. While some see this adding up to a surge in “solopreneurs’, others talk about “coddled individuals unsuited for the reality of business”. We believe that both views are wrong.
For a more balanced view, start with the point at which these individuals are entering the workforce.
The simple answer to why they increasingly seek temporary work assignments is: they need to and they want to. Temp work provides an immediate source of income and establishes work credentials while providing the freedom and work/life balance sought by many of this generation. It helps to build professional networks that can be leveraged into ‘permanent’ positions. It provides an opportunity to “test out” a career path while identifying and developing the skills needed for success. It teaches professionals how to market themselves. And, it provides the flexibility needed to continue one’s education while beginning a career.
If motivated to find a ‘permanent’ position, Millennials should use temporary assignments to overcome negative stereotypes of their generation by demonstrating a strong work ethic and ability to function within the corporate culture. We encourage them to forge relationships with older workers who will serve as mentors and recommend that they be considered for a regular position.
It has been predicted that a Millennial would have held 11 jobs within 10 years of graduating from college. In doing so, these individuals and the companies that retain them will forge new models for workforce planning, worker productivity, work skills development, intellectual property development and ownership, leadership, and more. We’re anxious to hear your thoughts on this issue.
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