Millennials as Free Agents | DCR Workforce Blog

Millennials as Free Agents

Working with and managing millennials (currently those aged between the ages of 18-34) is considered a downright challenge, even as their numbers catch up with and exceed that of baby boomers (currently those between the ages of 51-69). Millennials now represent more than one-half of the workforce at any business.

Not only are they are seen as a challenge to many managers, but they’re regarded as utterly incomprehensible by a few because they generally require managers to take some effort to really understand and appreciate not just the employee, but the person. Additionally, their overwhelming wish to exist as free agents is claimed to be the overriding reason behind the growth of the gig economy.

In general, every human being wants to be included, trusted, valued, recognized and fairly compensated. They also want some amount of flexibility with their schedules so they can enjoy meaningful lives, both personally and professionally. Along with these characteristics, there are some outspoken authors who even claim that millennials are considered to enjoy a sense of entitlement, and are regarded as job hoppers. Instead of bestowing such negative and critical labels on people by just looking at their age, let’s try to understand the genuine characteristics of millennials and why they would want to be free agents.

Unique characteristics of millennials

Let us look at some unique characteristics of millennials, including the best way to deal with them in the workplace, in these days of declining tenures at a single workplace:

  • Millennials are young and bring unique personalities, skill sets and experiences as well as energy, diversity and challenge of the status quo with them to their jobs.
  • Despite their youth, the millennials have seen everything: debt, recession, the bursting of the housing bubble, global financial and political crises as well as a stagnant employment market.
  • They refuse to subscribe to corporate profiteering and would eschew money-making and support all efforts to make the world more compassionate, generous, innovative, sustainable and environment-friendly.
  • They look at their jobs for providing them with a purpose and are ready to embrace your vision and mission with passion and enthusiasm if they believe in it.
  • Adept at the use of technology and social media, they would love to take a long enough break to travel the world and meet all the people they met in online chat rooms and IRC channels.
  • They like to feel that they are growing and developing, and expect the employer to be invested in their goals along with them as well as to keep the lines of communication open.
  • Having witnessed one or both parents lose a job overnight, they come equipped with an entrepreneurial spirit and have no belief in employer loyalty and commitment.
  • Most of them avoid displaying any discrimination against people based on their racial, physical or sexual attributes nor will they tolerate those who try to do so.
  • They seek real work-life balance as they are not interested in being tied only to their jobs.
  • Try not to pull rank on them or set them aside, especially when you know they have the necessary skills or technical knowledge needed on a task – maybe even more than you do.
  • Deal fairly with them at all times. Let them know when you feel they have done a good job or contributed significantly to the overall goals of the team.

Today’s job market makes contingent workers of many of us, if we accept the definition that it is working for organizations on a non-permanent basis. Millennials embrace this fact because of the freedom, the work-life balance, the career development opportunities, marketability and other advantages they see in gig work.

It’s believed that a millennial could possibly change 10 jobs in 11 years. This shortness of job tenures may not be led by companies trying to avoid engaging permanent employees but by the millennials themselves who repeatedly switch jobs and move to better opportunities. They also voluntarily take up gigs, excited by the opportunity to pick up new skills or knowledge.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average tenure for millennials is three times shorter than for boomers, and it goes to confirm their reputation as free agents. To ensure success, businesses would be wise to recognize that and factor it into their human capital management strategy.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.