AT A GLANCE

  • By 2014, 36% of the U.S. workforce will be comprised of Millennials, and this will grow to 46% by 2020
  • Top career priorities for Millennials are compensation, flexible work schedules, and the opportunity to make a difference
  • Millennials are more impatient about career advancement, are open to flexible work schedules, are disciplined about their work, and prefer shorter working hours

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Sep 01, 2013

Millennials: Who are they? And Why They Make Great Temp Workers?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines “Millennials” as the nearly 80 million young adults born between 1977 and 1999, who are already starting to join the workforce. Analysts estimate that by 2014, 36 percent of the U.S. workforce will be made up of this generation of workers, and this number will grow to 46 percent by 2020.

With this new generation poised to comprise a large portion of the country’s workforce, HR departments are starting to delve into what the values, desires and needs of these workers are, and how to keep them engaged.

What are Millennials Looking for in the Workplace?

Being the first generation to have been immersed in technology throughout their lives, these workers are constantly connected. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers wanted job security, while Millennials seek flexibility. These workers seek more than just income and have a higher focus on personal enrichment and work-life balance. A recent study by Mercer found that top three career priorities for Millennials are compensation, flexible work schedules and the opportunity to make a difference. 

What do Millennials Want from Employers?

what do millennials

Source: University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

A survey conducted by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilder in 2012 reveals disparities in the work habits and preferences of those workers aged 25 to 34 compared to those 55 and older. The findings indicated that Millennials are more impatient about career advancement or switching jobs, are more open to flexible work schedule, are disciplined about their work, and prefer shorter working hours. 

Difference in work habbits

A survey by Harris Interactive for the University of Phoenix discovered that roughly 80 percent of workers aged 20 to 29 said they wanted to change careers. And MSN Money reported that 53% of Millenials are not engaged in their current jobs.

 Millenials Make Great Temp Workers

Based on the workplace characteristics and values of Millennials, they’re a great fit for the growing trend of temporary employment. Their choice of job type and availability indicates a huge potential towards their interest in joining the temporary workforce.

millennials market

Economic factors also steer Millenials to seek temporary work assignments. Often, due to their young age and lower level of experience, Millennials are among the first to be eliminated during company downsizing. The unemployment rate for the generation is 11% as compared to the national unemployment rate of around 7%. And with their substantial student loan debt (the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that graduates of the class of 2011 had an average debt of $27,547), it’s no wonder they’re looking for those temporary positions where they have a higher earning potential.

Millennials Unemployment Trends

Millennials Unemployment Trends

Temporary work provides these workers with a source of income, while allowing them to build their resumes with work experience and skills. Also, the nature of temporary positions allows Millennials to enjoy the work-life balance, flexibility and freedom that they seek in a job.

What Does this Mean for Employers?

Deloitte, in a 2013 study, found that 34 percent of U.S. employees are planning on postponing their retirement age. The combination of an aging workforce still actively employed and an influx of new younger talent means that employers need to find a way to continue to derive value from older workers without holding the younger workers back.

With over 80 million Millenials entering the workforce, companies have to learn how to recruit, grow, and train these workers. And given the importance of the contingent workforce, employers must understand how they can address the needs of Millennials, who are looking for greater flexibility in their schedules and career paths, while still meeting business needs. Leveraging Millennials as contingent workers can provide companies with more control over variable costs, and enable a flexible and dynamic workforce that can be scaled up or down to meet their evolving needs.



“Millennials are described as an ethnically diverse generation who are team-players, optimistic, confident, trusting of authority, rule-followers, achievers in school, and generally achievement-oriented in everything they undertake. They are also the most affluent and well-educated generation in history.” ~Center for Work and Family at Boston College.

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