Millennials Are Rejecting Corporations and Reshaping the Workforce

You may have already read the article on corporate executives’ lack of willingness to hire millennial ’divas’ for job positions of their businesses. The reasons behind that is that millennials are considered to be spoiled with an inflated sense of entitlement. In addition, a portion of corporate executives think millennials need more supervision than their older counterparts and are too self-centered to care enough about company goals.

With all that said, it seems as though many millennials are just out of luck when it comes to landing a job within corporate America. That sucks! News flash: it turns out that most millennials do not want to work for corporations, anyway. At least that is the case for the newest wave of college graduates interested in taking on the workplace. Yes, corporate America, millennials just aren’t that into you.  

Why Are Millennials Saying ‘No’ to Corporations?

Management consulting firm Accenture recently conducted a survey about millennials’ views on various business platforms. Millennials consisted of college graduates of 2013, 2014, and 2015. Business platforms included large corporations, medium-sized businesses, as well as startups and government agencies. When it comes to large corporations, only 15% of millennials expressed their preference for them. As for medium-sized businesses, they came out on top with 35% of millennials leaning toward them. Start-ups and government agencies only got love from 10% of millennials.

Factors that influenced the survey results include millennials’ interest in healthy social values along with challenging and flexible work. Salary is a top consideration, but is not the deciding factor as it’s not a factor considered strong enough to largely misshape millennials’ desires of work-life balance to fit the interests of employers.

60% of 2015 graduates as well as 69% of graduates from 2013 and 2014 indicated that they would rather work for a company that generates a “positive social atmosphere” even if it means getting paid less money. In terms of what they want in a job, salary and benefits took the top spot. Beyond the money and extra perks, things millennials consider when picking a job are: challenging work (39%), flexible work hours (37%), and a chance to be promoted quickly (34%).

What Millennials Really Want from Employers

So what are millennials really looking for in employers? They are looking for good traits that have to do with culture, communication, and social responsibility. In other words, millennials want employers to cultivate a culture in the workplace that reflects conscientiousness and offers a sound foundation for their values of autonomy to take root and flourish. In order for that to happen, they know they need employers to be willing to effectively communicate with them and show they want to include millennials’ unique interests in their business plans. It’s about bonding and being on the same page.

Since millennials highly value novelty when it comes to tasks at work, the role that McDonaldization so widely plays in many industries has got to go (to some degree). For those who don’t know what McDonaldization is, it refers to diverse business platforms mirroring the employment dynamics of the fast food industry, like that of McDonald’s. Business platforms that significantly implement McDonaldization are not limited to the fast food industry. You can find it in industries such as the healthcare and automobile industry. Major themes of McDonaldization include efficiency, calculability, predictability, and the replacement of humans with technology. Certain themes that really rub millennials the wrong way are the last three of the four mentioned above. They involve an immense preoccupation with quantity over quality, a rigid work environment of monotone assignments, and deskilling jobs as much as possible (and decreasing workers).

Such elements contrast with the amount of freedom that millennials desire. Millennials are looking for employment that gives them an adequate sense of self-direction and boosts their spirit of creativity. There is too much emphasis on producing without the kind of productivity that really promotes the welfare of the public sufficiently. Such an experience is a dominant source of “worker burnout”. After all, research shows that millennials are the most stressed out group from work.

As for dealing with efficiency (i.e. satisfactory and economical work outcomes), I doubt that millennials want to see it diminished from businesses anytime soon, especially with the advantages that the drive-thru, microwave dinners, and self-serve drink fountains bring. It’s hard to do away with Marie Callender’s frozen chicken pot pies, anyhow. They’re irresistible!

With that in mind, it’s more apparent as to why more millennials are going a non-traditional route.

Millennials Are Driving the Freelance Economy

Millennials (also known as generation Y) are the generation taking up the most space in the modern workforce. According to the Pew Research Center (from 1995 to 2015 data), generation Y accounts for 53.5 million U.S. workers. Generation X is just below them with 52.7 million workers. Boomers consist of 44.6 million workers.

In fact, most millennials are working, according to the Accenture survey. More than half of 2013 and 2014 graduates reported being full-time employees. Another portion of them have part-time jobs (25%), while 4% stated they were interns. The rest who were employed in some fashion considered themselves freelancers (3%).

Speaking of millennials being freelancers, it serves as a valuable example of why generation Y understands the future of work better than any other generation, as stated in a Fast Company article. They are known as “the first generation of freelance natives”.

“They are the generation with markedly diverse interests -they’re into design, tech, activism, the arts, everything. They’ve been told their whole lives that they can and should pursue as many of those interests as they want. The Internet has opened more doors to this generation than any other.”

Millennials are more likely than any other age group to engage in freelance work. Based on a survey conducted by Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk in 2014, 38% of millennials are freelancing, compared to 32% of all others. Also, millennials are the most confident about this avenue of work. 82% of millennial freelancers expressed enthusiasm about what the future holds for freelancing.

One example of a highly enthusiastic freelancing millennial is a guy well-known by Steven Cox, CEO of teaching and learning marketplace TakeLessons:

“More specifically, he’s a young guy, 24 years old, which places him squarely in the millennial demographic. What’s interesting about this guy is what he does for a living: he drives for Lyft during the day; he teaches French lessons via TakeLessons at night. He also works as a part-time pet sitter through DogVacay and rents out a spare room in his condo on Airbnb.”

A very prominent argument for why millennials are choosing the path of micro-entrepreneurship over traditional employment is their lack of trust in corporate America. The deterioration of the U.S. economy based on bad business investments that shook the global economy (e.g. the Dotcom Crash and the mortgage crisis of the Great Recession) left a traumatizing effect on millennials. Witnessing family and friends lose their jobs and homes was powerful enough to inspire millennials to take advantage of alternative options. The expectation is that such alternatives would be more fulfilling and grounded in nature.

Motivation also stems from the fact that many of generation Y graduated from college and at least attempted to enter a workforce of considerable instability, to put to use their postsecondary skills. Obviously job prospects were grim, leaving many millennials underemployed or unemployed with disappointment.

So, millennials’ micro-entrepreneurship practices are not simply the result of narcissism or an un-interest in accepting constructive criticism about how to perform work from bosses. There is a notable level of hopelessness attached to the pursuit of regular employment from generation Y.

What Millennials Should Know About Freelancing

If you are a millennial whose professional desires consist of being one’s own boss, then there are some things you should consider before you begin your freelancing career. For example, being a freelance writer is not simply some fun, little hobby that millions of people happen to do in their spare time. It’s real work that requires self-discipline and dedication, like any other job. Below are a few insights you ought to keep in mind:

  • Being a freelancer requires strong intrinsic motivation. One always has to be self-motivated in order to endure the challenging work that comes one’s way. When it comes to a traditional job, one can get away with slacking off here and there and still get paid (though I’m not suggesting you do this). Many people do, of course. Yet as a freelancer, one generally gets paid per completed assignment, so it’s important to give 100% of one’s effort with each task, or one runs the risk of not getting paid at all. There is no supervisor looking over one’s shoulder ensuring that work is completed in a good-quality and timely fashion; it all rests in one’s own hands.
  • The experience of a freelancer can be quite lonesome. Yes, it is nice to be able to practically work from anywhere with an internet connection. Yet such a person does not have the social reinforcement of coworkers to share his/her work experience with. There’s no chit-chat sessions during break time at the water cooler with your office besties...because there are none (and there probably isn’t a water cooler either). So, freelancing appears to not be the best option for those who need constant face-to-face social stimulation.
  • A freelancer’s physical work environment probably isn’t an exciting place to be. A lot of freelancers work from home, especially since many have taken note of the advantages of not needing to commute, such as spending less money. Some have work offices in their homes and some don’t. Chances are that you could just be plugging away at your work in your bedroom if you choose to telecommute (and worse...from your own bed). In that case, waking up day after day to tackle freelance duties from home can turn out to be boring due to the lack of fresh scenery, let alone fresh air. Who likes being cooped up in the house all day long, anyway?

Nonetheless, there are so many ways you can make your freelance dreams a reality. Overall, the big question to ask yourself is ‘can I handle it all on my own’? Of course, you can consult useful sources for guidance, but in the end, you are the captain of your own ship as a freelancer. You ultimately determine whether your ship floats or sinks.

CNN Money