Millennials prioritize workplace flexibility and reject a stiff structure in their place of employment, according to a recent survey from American Express. A full 75 percent U.S. millennials surveyed said that businesses should “be flexible and fluid” regarding work environment and “not enforce a rigid structure on employees.”
The days of punching the clock five days a week have ended – teleworking is easier than ever, and there’s mutual benefit to be found in loosening workplace rigidity. A happy, productive worker won’t mind putting in late hours on a Thursday evening, provided they can take an extra hour to sleep in on a slow Monday morning.
Millennials surpassed Generation X as the largest group in the workforce, with more than a third of workers sporting a birthday between 1981 and 1997. An inflexible structure works well on the assembly line, sure, but with more young Americans gravitating away from manual labor, the attitude of employers must shift as well, or they risk immense struggles to attract young, energetic workers.
Americans take far fewer work vacations than those in the European workforce, and typically work much longer hours overall. This shift in attitude displayed by millennials will drive companies to compete for talent, offering unique work incentives, and increasing paid vacation time for everyone.
Netflix boasts unlimited vacation time. Yes, that’s right – they do not limit the amount of time employees can take off work, and they are joined by innovative employers such as LinkedIn and General Electric. This policy was first instituted over a decade ago, and Netflix told the Wall Street Journal in 2004 that they “focus instead on the work people accomplish rather than how many hours or days they work.”
Finding qualified job applicants is becoming easier, as 4 in 10 millennial workers aged 25 to 29 held at least an undergraduate degree in 2016, according to Pew Research. This is a full 8 percent more than Gen Xers in the workforce holding a bachelor's degree, making the millennial talent pool large, diverse, and competitive. It’s this competition that will drive workplaces to shift toward a more results-oriented environment.
An intense focus on the work accomplished, as opposed to the hours worked, will ultimately benefit the entire marketplace – no matter the job. So long as their output is market-driven, the most successful employee in any given role will be happier without a strict 9-to-5 policy.
Of course, many professions can’t adapt in this way; lawyers bill by the hour and government agencies and nonprofits have specific hours of operation. There will be exceptions, but every workplace should strive to prioritize the output-driven model. If they don’t, it will only be hurting their bottom line and excommunicating the largest generational group in the American workforce.
Phalen Kuckuck (@Phalen_k) is a recent graduate of Ohio University with a degree in criminology and political science. He currently works in West Virginia politics.