Careers Wales is launching its Future Work Wales campaign designed to educate GCSE pupils and their parents about future jobs, technology and what skills will be needed for the future.
Denise Currell, Head of People Development at Careers Wales, takes a closer look at how employers can respond to this changing workforce and gives some advice as to how to attract and retain future workers.
“The term ‘millennials’, also known as Generation Y, is usually applied to individuals who reached adulthood around the year 2000.
Millennials are the first generation to grow up as digital natives, with technology at their fingertips enabling them to do things efficiently and well. They don’t expect to work with antiquated IT systems and will suggest innovative ways of working.
They’ll expect the best technology and tools to do the job, and flexible working from any location. Where earlier generations fought for flexible working, millennials now expect to blend work, family and social life and don’t necessarily think of work as nine to five.
Welsh employers in Wales have had to develop flexible working practices to suit the blend of different generations working at their organisation. Installing technology to enable remote working or allowing employees to choose their hours are examples of this.
At Careers Wales, more than a third of our employees have flexible working patterns and we use video conferencing to connect with colleagues in other offices across Wales. We offer homeworking on an ad hoc or partial basis, and remote access so that we can work in an agile way.
Millennials value time to pursue social and family activities, and hobbies or side projects that may be entrepreneurial in nature. Employers who embrace this will find that their employees are developing transferable skills that can benefit the business.
Work is a part of life so I use the term life balance instead of work-life balance. I think it’s important employers consider how they can get this balance right for staff. Millennials are more likely to expect workplaces to implement positive mental and physical health practices.
It has been reported that millennials will be the first generation likely to be poorer than their parents, so they are looking for good salaries.
Conversely, millennials aren’t chasing money at the expense of life balance, realising that money doesn’t bring happiness if you haven’t got the life to go with it.
Millennials are the first generation to have been in constant contact with their parents via mobile phones and social media, with consequent reassurance, feedback and involvement. In the workplace, employers can provide this support by assigning mentors to millennial workers, to help encourage and develop their talents.
In a hierarchical business, with employees from several generations in senior roles, it can be difficult for young workers to see opportunities for progression. Companies can progress and develop millennials with sideways moves in different aspects of the business, and provide stretch projects that challenge them and add to their skills base. Long-term, businesses might consider moving away from hierarchical structures to flatter ones, giving opportunities to lead on a project basis rather than departmental teams.
Millennials, unlike previous generations, have been more involved in family decisions and have embraced opportunities to use their voice in social campaigns. In a workplace, millennials want to have a voice and be consulted on change.
Then there are small but important factors like dress codes. If a suit isn’t necessary to get the job done, could the company dress code be relaxed?
While millennials embrace digital technology, people are becoming more socially isolated by it. After school, college and university, the workplace is where people meet friends and partners, so it’s important employers create space for workers to interact socially. Office design can facilitate these interactions and a positive working environment can create a more productive workforce.
Small businesses have just as much opportunity to make changes that cater for millennial workers as large firms. Small firms can be agile while large firms may require more time to push change through. Some changes simply require thought, not financial investment and while millennials are driving this change, all employees will benefit from this new thinking.”