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Millennials in the Workplace
Thursday, April 30, 2015 6:40 AM

Today they are the cool demographic that companies are trying to attract as employees and as customers. In 20 years, millennials will be distinctly middle-aged, between 35 and 55 years of age, with one big difference: there will be more single millennials than there were single Gen Xers or baby boomers.

To date, millennials are marrying later than any previous generation on record, and are having children later than previous generations. It is likely that a substantial percentage of millennials will be single at middle-age. This increase in singleness is likely to have substantial implications for organizations.

For many millennials, being single will mean they have freedom to work more hours and move when the organization needs them to. This flexibility could be advantageous for organizations. However, they will also be able to move for themselves, freer to take advantage of opportunities at other organizations, or simply decide they want to go do something else.

More millennials will be single parents, either by chance (divorce) or choice (never partnered). Coupled millennial parents will be more two-career families. These shifts will affect everything from health-care plans to scheduling to transfers. Millennials with children may not be flexible to move for a new assignment. Single parents will also need the flexibility to stay home with the child when necessary without worrying about it ruining their career.

Organizations that want to be talent magnets will need to recognize these shifts, provide better work options, and help parents manage issues and real-life demands. Retaining the talent that also wants to “have a life” is a competitive advantage in the long term.

Jennifer Deal, senior research scientist at the University of Southern California and author of “What Millennials Want from Work”, 27 April 2015