Being a Millennial isn’t easy.
More so than other generations, members of the Millennial generation are dealing with crushing levels of student debt. Forbes reported that 57 percent of Millennials “regret how much they borrowed” for education, and now it’s delaying Millennials’ ability to buy a home, get married or do other things they want to do.
Yet for all the education they have, their job prospects are perpetually uncertain. More than half of Millennials report being “underemployed,” according to an Accenture survey. Many Millennials are turning to “gig economy” jobs – cobbling together a series of part-time or contract jobs to make ends meet. It’s rare for these jobs to come with benefits for retirement savings or health insurance, which puts more even financial pressure on young professionals.
What keeps Millennials awake at night? Retirement, job security and debt, mostly, according to a study by Charles Schwab & Co.
But in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, we would like to recognize that Millennials have much to be thankful for. Here are five of them:
Flexibility at Work
While gig economy jobs may not be ideal in some ways, they do afford Millennials a significant amount of flexibility. Millennials like the way being a full-time freelancer or contractor gives them freedom and independence, career development and learning opportunities they believe a more “traditional” 9-to-5 job wouldn’t.
Even within “traditional” jobs, employers are embracing the notion of a more flexible work schedule. Fully half of the U.S. workforce has a job that is compatible with at least some teleworking, according to Global Workplace Analytics.
Technology plays an important role in this dynamic. Thanks to near-ubiquitous wi-fi, the adoption of tablets, newer workplace communication tools like Asana and Slack and the proliferation of co-working spaces, being productive outside the office is entirely possible.
Thanks, technology! There’s no doubt Millennials have incorporated digital technology into many, many facets of their life. From driving directions to working remotely to staying in touch with friends and family, Millennials are definitely digital natives.
But don’t get confused – being a digital native does not make Millennials digital addicts. While they appreciate what technology allows them to do, they say it does not replace in-person conversations, particularly in the workplace.
Millennials are the most socially aware generation to date. They put a priority on social responsibility in many areas of their life. When shopping, they are more willing to pay more for sustainable products and services, according to a Neilsen global study.
Companies are paying attention to this trend in the products and services they offer, and in their commitment to the community. More than 90 percent of Millennials want to work for socially responsible companies. And a Deloitte survey showed 70 percent of Millennials “listed their company’s commitment to the community as an influence on their decision to work there.”
Whether a company is seeking Millennials’ dollars or talent, corporate social responsibility is key and a trend Millennials are thankful for.
Understanding and Involved Parents
Financial stress from student loans and job uncertainty means a lot of Millennials are trying to save money on housing by moving back home with Mom and Dad. Some Millennials are using the money they save on rent to pay back student loans faster so they can move on with their adult lives.
Thank goodness for understanding parents! While there haven’t been many studies about how the parents actually feel about this, more than one-third of college seniors in 2016 planned to live at home for at least a year after graduation, according to the job website Indeed. Millennials grew up with parents who were highly involved in their children’s emotional and educational development and activities.
For employers who are looking to hire recent graduates, it’s likely that prospective Millennial hires’ parents are heavily involved in this process. That may mean answering questions from parents, inviting parents into the office and even reassuring parents that your company has their child’s best professional interests in mind.
Optimism and Drive
Millennials were raised with the belief that they could do anything and be anyone when they grew up. Witnessing the United States’ first black president and the first woman at the top of a major party ticket, as well as seeing Millennial successes like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Millennials are ambitious, passionate – and optimistic.
Almost half (49 percent) of Millennials say the country’s best years are ahead of them, but just 42 percent of Generation X members and 44 percent of Baby Boomers say the same, according to Pew Research Center.
That sense of optimism will serve them well both personally and professionally. Optimism has been cited as the single most critical characteristic of successful entrepreneurs. Their optimism may also make them healthier in the long-term, as studies have shown a positive mental outlook has a good affect on cardiovascular health.
For those who are hiring Millennials in the new year, keeping in mind these five things that Millennials appreciate — flexibility, technology, social awareness, involved parents and optimism — will help with successful recruitment, hiring and long-term retention. Millennials will be thankful for managers who coach them, keep their professional goals in mind and allow Millennials the opportunity to be themselves.