The common definition of millennials refers to those born between 1982 and 2003, now between the ages of 12 and 33, although the range can vary depending upon the source. By 2020, 46% of all U.S. workers are estimated to be millennials, and by 2025 nearly 75%. As a millennial myself, I frequently read articles with dire predictions regarding my generation’s impact on our future economy. Unfortunately, many of these articles associate my generation with lazy tendencies, social media addiction and narcissism, amongst other negative attributes. I believe many critics are the voice of insecurity, misperception, and simply nervousness, as older generations fear millennials will and can take their jobs.
As we take a look at the future of America’s work force, I don’t think anyone understands it better than millennials. We are the first true generation of freelance natives and consultants, ready to embrace the non-traditional diversification of work experience. Thanks to the internet, millennials have grown up with access to more information and more options than any other generation. They realize that they can, and should, pursue many different interests. Millennials are the age group that is most likely to pursue a consulting or freelancing opportunity. Therefore, the concept of a portfolio of work comes naturally to them. This creates a more meaningful, self-directed work life rather than the traditional long career that their parents and grandparents strived for.
Millennials have been and will continue to be referred to as a connected generation. We truly understand the power of networking. This has come naturally over the years, as we grew up in the digital age, leveraging social media platforms and fast adopters of technology. We are the most connected generation in human history and we understand the power of even loose connection.
Of course this generation is still young and only the future will tell how aging will shape our priorities and ideas about work. However, what we have seen so far is encouraging. This generation is working to join together to build support systems and co-working spaces. The highly valued models of consulting and freelance provide companies with affordable and flexible options as well create a sustainable independent work economy. If companies strive to continue to be forward-thinking and prepared for the future, they must understand the behaviors and motivations of millennials, as they will soon be the dominating force in the work place.