Many of us remember playing second fiddle to our parents’ jobs when we were growing up. In American culture, the balance between employment and personal life has long been tilted in the direction of the job, but societal standards are starting to shift. The days of employees being forced to prioritize their jobs over their personal lives may be slowly coming to an end. Millennials just aren’t having it.
A healthy work/life balance is now a priority for the next generation of workers, and that’s why remote and freelance work is so appealing to them. When workers have the ability to set their own schedules and work from virtually anywhere, they also find more time to spend with their loved ones at home. The class of 2016 in particular finds this prospect to be quite attractive.
A New Generation of Benefits
While some graduating students suffer crippling college debt, they still have a leg up on previous generations in other ways. For example, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they can stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26. They’re also encouraged to live at home longer while they find their footing.
“The newest generation of workers have carved out their own niche when it comes to a career path,” says Scott Moorhouse, business intelligence consultant at SAP Fieldglass, a provider of cloud-based vendor management systems for managing contingent workforces. “With the options available for health care today, it’s not as important to find a full-time position right after graduating. Many graduates also don’t necessarily have an ideal picture about the type of job they want. Often, they are looking to find something that ultimately leads them in a right direction. We can think of this as an internship or co-op on a larger scale.”
Since the recently graduated don’t feel pressure to strike out on their own just yet, they can afford to be more selective about their job prospects and really explore their options.
“Joining the flexible workforce allows these individuals to play the field. They have the ability to work for different companies, experiencing various types of jobs without making a long-term commitment,” says Jim Brozny, direct of account services at SAP Fieldglass. “Often a short-term gig can turn into a full-time position if there is a good match.”
Luckily for new graduates, it’s not just the newest members of the workforce who are adopting new attitudes toward remote work. The older half of the millennial generation has already paved the way, since many have already been in their jobs for a decade or more
“Over the past few years, there has been a shift in the demographic of managers,” says Moorhouse. “As the baby boomers retire, they are replaced with younger managers that have a different attitude and preference about working from home. Technology plays a vital role here. Workers are now given the resources to work remotely, finding more advantageous geographies.”
Cherry-Picking the Best Candidates
While some might feel that hiring freelancers or temporary remote workers straight out of the graduate pool could be risky, it’s possible that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
“Although new graduates may not have enough practical experience – aside from internships or co-ops in specified fields – there are talented people out there looking for opportunities,” Brozny says. “What they need is a chance. By hiring new graduates, companies can identify individuals that have the greatest desire to learn and adapt without making a full-time commitment. They get a front-line view of the individual’s attitude and work ethic. They see who fits in culturally. From here, they can choose the people they invest in.”
Since there’s already a perception in the business world that the desire for work/life balance in millennials is a sign of laziness or lack of commitment, this chance to see what a recent graduate has up front could help waylay those fears.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to efficiency,” Brozny says. “If the work is getting done on time and on budget, this system works. I think that over time, we will find equilibrium.”
As more and more older workers reach retirement age, the traditional views of work ethic and roles will retire with them. Millennials are proving that there is more than one way to peel an orange as they succeed in working remotely. As to which way works better for companies – the old or the new – only time will tell.