Evolve or die: workplace flexibility and the next generation
PwC’s NextGen: A global generational study, which was conducted in conjunction with the University of Southern California and the London Business School, represents the most ambitious research into the Millennial generation, or ‘Generation Y’. The study included responses from 44,000 employees throughout PwC’s global network of professional service firms, with almost one quarter of the responses coming from Millennials.
This two-year research undertaking finds that the Millennial generation, those born between 1980 and 1995, seek more workplace flexibility, better balance between their work and home life, and opportunity for overseas assignments as keys to greater job satisfaction.
The research study both confirmed and dispelled stereotypes about Millennials. While younger workers are more tech savvy, globally focused, and willing to share information, the study found they did not feel more entitled or less committed than their older, non-Millennial counterparts, and are willing to work just as hard. The global survey also found that many of the Millennials' attitudes are consistently shared by their more senior colleagues.
The study sought to measure factors relating to workplace retention, loyalty and job satisfaction. It compared responses among Millennials to those of non-Millennials at the same stage of their careers to assess generational differences between the two sets of employees.
There are a number of key lessons at the heart of the PwC NextGen study findings.
Millennials and non-Millennials alike want the option to shift their work hours to accommodate their own schedules and are interested in working outside the office where they can stay connected by way of technology. Employees across all generations also say they would be willing to forego some pay and delay promotions in exchange for reducing their hours.
Millennials put a premium on work/life balance.
Unlike past generations, who put an emphasis on their careers and worked well beyond a 40-hour work week in the hope of rising to higher-paying positions later on, Millennials are not convinced that such early career sacrifices are worth the potential rewards. A balance between their personal and work lives is more important to them.
These findings are important for business leaders who need to understand, and diversity practitioners who need to deliver, the business case for diversity. For too long flexibility and work/life balance have been associated with female talent. This NextGen research report does more than dispel stereotypes related to the Millennial generation, it also goes some way towards dispelling some gender stereotypes.
Flexibility is not just about women; for Millennials, it is a talent wide imperative. In fact, the study finds that given the opportunity, 64% of Millennials and 66% of non-Millennials would like to occasionally work from home, and 66% of Millennials and 64% of non-Millennials would like the option to occasionally shift their work hours. 15% of all male employees and 21% of all female employees say they would give up some of their pay and slow the pace of promotion in exchange for working fewer hours. What is critical here is that work/life balance is more important to a much broader subset of Millennials – Millennial women and Millennial men.
Likewise, work/life balance, while more important to the Millennial generation, is valued by non-Millenials as well; in fact, 71% of Millennials vs. 63% of non-Millennials say that their work demands significantly interfere with their personal lives.
When leadership and organisations understand that flexibility and work/life balance are not just Millennial- or women-focused challenges, but are indeed about everyone, and begin to consider them with strategies and policies targeted at the whole talent population, then we will continue to see a shift toward more truly diverse and inclusive work cultures and organisations.
So please, let’s start talk about flexibility and work/life balance as a talent wide proposition! Find out more on the PwC’s NextGen Study at http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/hr-management-services/publications/nextgen-study.jhtml.