Millennials, eh? What are they like, those mysterious creatures born between the early ’80s and late ’90s? With their selfies and their gluten intolerance, their flat whites and their dating apps, their anxiety and their gender fluidity?
No, seriously: what are they like?
If you’re aged between your early twenties and early thirties, you’re probably thinking, “Erm, we’re people, basically.”
But for countless researchers and social scientists, figuring out what makes millennials tick – what do they love? What do they want? – is close to a full-time occupation.
A recent study by Future Workplace and Randstad set out to discover how today’s young adults like to interact in the workplace.
And despite the cliché that most millennials would rather die than have a face-to-face conversation, the survey found that the majority of “digital natives” still prefer real-life communication at work to more tech-y alternatives, such as emailing or social networking. (If you've ever found yourself stuck in a 324-message email chain with Colin from accounts, this is a stance you will understand.)
While there’s been a lot of noise recently about the rise of coworking spaces, the survey – of more than 4,000 employees in 10 countries, including the UK, US and Canada – also found that 42% of millennial workers would rather work in an ordinary office over anywhere else.
However, there were some areas where millennials’ attitudes towards work were markedly different to previous generations’.
Almost 40% of those surveyed placed a high level of importance on having “different points of view” in the workplace, and the majority said that flexibility was their most preferred employee benefit – over healthcare coverage or training and development.
Some 20% of survey respondents, meanwhile, wanted their offices to incorporate robotics into the workplace, 26% wanted virtual reality (!), and 27% hoped that their employers would soon introduce wearable tech. Well, we can but dream.
“Despite the introduction and proliferation of new technologies at work, millennials and gen Z value the in-person communication that comes with a traditional corporate office, much like older generations do,” said Dan Schawbel, Future Workplace’s research director. “At the same time, they also seek flexible hours and telecommuting that two-thirds of companies still fail to offer.”
Millennials: they’re just like you. Kind of.