When it comes to company size, bigger is not always better for many millennials. Members of Generation Y, as they are also called, prefer working at small companies and startups over large, established companies with a traditional culture. According to a PayScale study, 47 percent of millennials work at a company with fewer than 100 employees. Only 23 percent work at large companies with more than 1,500 employees. As a company increases in size, it must implement more controls and regulations to make sure operations run smoothly. Salaries can also increase, but for many millennials, the decrease in flexibilityis not worth the higher salary.
According to the PayScale study, millennials want a corporate culture that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit, values innovation and allows them to use social media sites at work without being reprimanded.
This quest for flexibility and innovation is what draws many millennials to work at startups. According to a Mashable.com article, millennials love the “work hard, play hard” mentality of startups. Startups tend to be smaller and offer cool perks. ZocDoc caters in lunch for its employees every day. Thrillist has a casual dress code (Read more: Embrace Company Culture without Ditching the Dress Code). Tumblr has a dog-friendly office. ModCloth offers unlimited sick and vacation days. The list goes on, but all of these perks send the same message: the company trusts that you will do your job and wants you to have fun while doing it. For many millennials, working at a startup is a dream job.
It is easy to see why members of previous generations believe millennials have not earned any rights to make such demanding requests for their work life. The view tends to be, “I worked my way up for my vacation days, why shouldn’t you?” But millennials do have one skill that gives them some clout: online marketing and social media skills. Most companies realize the importance of reaching their consumers online, and millennials know how to leverage social media and online marketing tools. This skill makes them valuable and gives companies an incentive to create cultures that cater to them.
Social media skills and a quest for flexibility make a millennial’s probable career look much different from the path of their parents. But their cultural upbringing also plays a role. Millennials grew up during an age when the Internet and social media made the world seem much smaller. They have seen a variety of personalities, races, cultures and religions represented in their world, whether it is in school or in their Facebook friends list. Diversity feels comfortable for them. Working at a company where everyone is what they perceive to be “the same” sounds dreadfully dull. Millennials are driven by an intense desire to be inspired and make an impact. They feel too many controls hinder their chances at truly effecting change in an organization. Millennials are extremely well-versed in using the Internet to see what benefits employees at other companies receive. If they feel like they are being under-valued, they see no point in staying at their current companies.
Millennials have a clear view of the work-life balance they need to be happy. Many want an opportunity to make an impact on the world. They value meaningful experiences. They believe this life starts with a particular kind of job. And, if they have to give up a few thousand dollars for this job, so be it.
Do you think millennials have unrealistic expectations for their careers?