Millennials Ready to Change the Workforce - Is Your Firm Ready for Them?

It appears that Millennials (or Generation Y if you prefer) aren't just a part of the workforce, they are poised to take it over and make fundamental changes.

The most common age in the current workforce is now 22, followed by 23 and 21, according to TheWire.com  For the first time since 1947, the most popular age in the workforce no longer falls into the Baby Boomer generation.

This puts Millennials, those born roughly between the early 80's and early 2000's, in the position to really influence how work works. To some who stereotype this group as as self-entitled job hoppers, this may be seen as a bad thing.

But renowned employee recognition expert Dr. Bob Nelson recently urged his email subscribers to embrace this movement because Millennials can make positive changes in the workforce, including:

  1. Putting an emphasis on meaningful work
  2. More recognition and respect for workers
  3. Autonomy and flexibility
  4. Opportunities to constantly learn and grow
  5. Incorporating fun into the workplace

"I’m convinced that as the Millennials come to dominate the workplace in number (an estimated 48% of all workers will be from the Millennial generation by 2020 and 75% of all workers by 2025), so too will they come to dominate workplace attitudes and expectations," Dr. Nelson said.

As this happens, it appears that a number of them will achieve their goals through alternative staffing arrangements. Statistics show that 40-50% of the American workforce will be contingent by the year 2020. This trend has already begun as more than half of "independent workers"(contractors, freelancers, consultants, etc.) stated in the MBO Partners 2013 State of Independence Report that they deliberately chose an independent work arrangement over traditional direct hire positions. The reasons echo the desires listed above. For 78% of independent workers, making a difference with their work was a key benefit to their work arrangement. Forty-five percent chose independent work because their previous employers did not recognize their value.

Specifically, structured contract staffing arrangements are gaining popularity. Contract staffing is when workers perform services for one company while being the legal employer of a third party, such as a recruiting/staffing firm or a contract staffing back-office. Due to the project-based nature of contract assignments, workers enjoy a wider range of flexible scheduling options and the opportunity to continually learn and grow through a variety of projects.  It is also easier for them to see the impact of their work because they are often working on projects or meeting critical deadlines.

Workers in contract staffing arrangements can enjoy this flexibility, variety, and job satisfaction without sacrificing the perks of traditional employment. Because contractors are the legal employees of a third party, they receive a regular paycheck, typically with direct deposit, and are often offered benefits, including health, dental, vision, and life insurance and 401(k).

Yes, placing Millennials can sometimes be challenging, but they are the future of the American workforce. You can attract and retain top-notch Millennial candidates by offering a variety of enticing contract opportunities. And if you can't offer the benefits and other perks they are seeking, no worries. You can outsource their employment to a contract staffing back-office that does have the ability to offer those things.

Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

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Tags: Agency Recruiting

Comment by Matt Charney on August 27, 2014 at 4:31pm

Bad news: they've already changed the workforce and are just as likely to be your manager as your direct report. So it's actually workforce planning - and attitudes - that need to play catch up. That said, great data and your point is true: we're the future of the American workforce. Thing is, we're also the present.

Comment by Debbie Fledderjohann on August 27, 2014 at 4:39pm

Well said! Yes, the change is already underway. Thank you!

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