The Future of Work for Millennials is NOW

This blog is one in a series provided by board members of the Tech Faculty offering their insights and lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this blog, board member, consultant at PwC, and Chair and Co-founder of New Gen Accountants, Monique Malcolm-Hay, discusses why the future of work for millennials is now.

During the past four months of being in lockdown, I have spoken to many millennials who have struggled to remain positive during such a turbulent time.  After losing loved ones, being furloughed, made redundant and experiencing the economy plunge into a historic downturn – it is hardly surprising that the morale has been low. However as someone who tries to find the positives in every situation, I believe there are many things millennials can look forward to.

By 2025, millennials will represent 75 percent of the global workforce and COVID-19 offers the opportunity for the world of work to be reshaped in a way that is inclusive and fits the desires of millennials.

Here is a list of some of the key positive workplace shifts millennials can look forward to that have been accelerated by COVID-19:

  1. #WorkfromHome will become #WorkfromAnywhere

Many companies that were previously resistant to letting employees work from home have been forced to accept it as a legitimate option. For the majority of people who worked during the lockdown period, they became a remote, flexible worker using video and chat apps to communicate with their colleagues. Twitter has already announced that employees will be allowed to work from home 'forever’ and various countries have launched campaigns to attract remote workers. Barbados launched its 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp, a new visa that allows remote workers to live and work from the Caribbean country for up to a year. This will make it easier for the younger generation of workers to achieve their #WorkFromAnywhere ambitions meaning they are able to live anywhere and travel whilst working, rather than having to live close to where they work. 

  1. Companies will become more purpose-driven

We are starting to see many millennials make employment decisions not based on earnings potential but instead based on purpose alignment. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because a number of rising cases of depression and midlife crisis are closely linked with little to no fulfilment in professional lives.  Millennials look for authentic experiences that ignite passion leading to work that is meaningful and has a positive impact. Companies will no longer be able to focus solely on revenue growth and profits. The best companies will be the ones that have a purpose for themselves and also attract and hire people whose individual sense of purpose align with the company’s purpose. This will go beyond companies having a CSR department or volunteer days. 

  1. Fluid and portfolio careers will become the norm

Unlike in the past where employees were more likely to focus on pursuing one career and have a predictable career road map, the future will see more and more people moving jobs and changing the direction of their career as it has become much more accessible and affordable to access different forms of education. The concept of a job for life will cease to exist and positions within companies will be more fluid. A strict organisational chart will likely be less attractive in favour of more project-based teams.

  1. Investment in upskilling staff will become the norm

One thing that is certain is the world is edging closer to be digitalized. Skills training will need to be at the heart of the UK's post-pandemic plans. With 20-40% of jobs currently held by 16-24 year olds at risk of automation by the mid-2030s, companies need to enable young people with the skills needed to thrive in the digital world. We are already seeing large investments being made by some companies for example, Google are providing 100,000 need-based scholarships for new online certs (in UX, PgM and Data Analytics). We will see a shift from companies underspending on learning and development programmes to seeing many corporations being forced to allocate more time and budget to upskilling their staff.

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