Whether or not we realise it, the global workforce is constantly changing with time. Currently, it is made up of four generations—Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z—and according to Mercer’s 2017 Worldwide Policies and Practices Survey, Generation X and Millennials represent the majority of the workforce. In a few years’ time, these proportions in workforce are likely to change, with Millennials becoming the biggest generation in the workforce.
Who Exactly Are The Millennials?
Born in the late seventies to early nineties, Millennials are known by several distinct traits. Having grown up with technology, Millennials are known to be tech-savvy. They are quick to navigate the digital sphere across various gadgets, from smartwatches and smartphones to tablets and laptops. This proves to be a key advantage against the latter, more traditional generations.
At the workplace, Millennials can be incredibly driven, goal-orientated and confident. They are not simply seeking stability but a fulfilling career, which in turn translates to a willingness to take risks and higher expectations of their employers. This is why Millennials are especially open to travelling and working overseas. At the same time, Millennials value teamwork and a collaborative working style. They find the affirmation of others to be rewarding and appreciate being included as well.
Millennials are also family-centric, tending to place family above work. As a result, they are willing to forgo high pay for flexible schedules and a better work-life balance.
Finally, Millennials are always on the look out for something new and better. It is not entirely uncommon for Millennials to job hop and have resumes listing a variety of work experience.
The Most Globally Mobile Generation
Studies have shown that 91% of the multinational companies employ Millennials in their globally mobile workforce and on average, Millennials made up 38% of the globally mobile workforce. The motivation behind Millennials’ global mobility stems from four main reasons—in the descending order, career development/opportunities, discovering new countries/cultures, learning/studies and finally, higher compensation. This is a key impact on mobility we will discuss further in this article.
Unsurprisingly, Millennials stay true to their drive for progress as well as their interest in discovering the new. It is important to note that higher compensation was much less of a motivation for Millennials when it comes to taking up international assignments.
Increased Female Representation
In comparison with older generations, women tend to be more represented amongst Millennials in the globally mobile workforce. Studies have shown that among the Millennial assignees, employers report a higher proportion of female assignees rather than male assignees. One reason could be that millennial women are looking to further their career and gain international experience before settling down to start a family. Significantly, this proportion is in contrast with the average percentage of women in the globally mobile workforce in 2017—14%—a surprisingly low percentage, similar to mobility trends in the 1990s. Millennial women are definitely making headway in female representation in the global workforce.
Potential Impacts Of Millennials In The Workforce
While fast changes, increased mobility, and flexibility are characteristics that have always applied to younger employees, Millennials also differ from older generations in terms of their values and early adoption to new trends, especially in the digital world. Traditional policies may have to be reevaluated to continue to be attractive to Millennials who bring a unique set of characteristics due to their quick adaption to fast technological changes. These changes could also benefit the older Baby Boomers and Gen X workers as the characteristics of Millennial and Gen Z begin to permeate their working habits and attitudes.
Since Millennials and even Gen X are increasingly globally mobile, they bring an impact on mobility policies. In a survey by Mercer, 50% and 29% of respondents rank the United States and United Kingdom respectively as the two top destinations they are keen to apply to. This is in line with company-initiated moves as well, with 46% and 24% looking to move to the United States and United Kingdom respectively.
However, when it comes to the other top destinations employee- and company-initiated moves, misalignment in interest between employees and companies can be seen. China and Brazil are among the top six destinations for company-initiated moves for 21% and 20% of the respondents respectively, yet accounts for only 13% and 6% of employee-initiated moves.
How Can Companies Respond To Millennials’ Impact On Mobility Programmes?
A study showed that 64% of employers feel that mobility policies do need to be changed to meet Millennials’ needs and aspirations, but just 16% were planning to or have introduced such changes. 27% are looking to introduce or plan adjustments to their mobility policies that would benefit all demographics of their workforce, including Millennials, but specifically for Millennials.
Understandably, companies cannot consider these changes in isolation from factors such as profitability and corporate strategy. With that said, based on the new trends emerging between generations, companies need to strike a balance between business requirements and the expectations of the different generations in the mobile workforce. After all, Millennials are progressively set to make up the bulk of the workforce all around the world.
Companies will benefit from building compelling mobility policies on clear Unique Value Propositions (UVP) that also outline how employees can benefit from an assignment in terms of pay, benefits, career prospective as well as a sense of higher purpose behind the day to day job. Structuring the policy this way will help companies make a strong case for Millennials to consider and buy into.
Additionally, Millennials view their career as fluid and adaptable. Long assignments with limited feedback and unclear direction are dreary to them. As opposed to a typical duration of five years for long-term assignments, two years would be more appealing. At the same time, short-term assignments should be made available to lower the barriers of access for employees considering mobility programmes for the first time.
When it comes to incentivising mobility policies, it does not have to simply be on monetary terms. Companies can consider offering the flexibility to manage the given budget of a mobility policy to assignees to provide a sense of empowerment and freedom. This would allow Millennials, and even Generation Z, to see that their work and lifestyle can be complementary.
How Moovaz Can Help
To facilitate a smooth transition for your employees when mobilising your workforce around the world, partner with Moovaz today!
With experience across over 200 cities globally, Moovaz is the go-to end-to-end relocation solution powered by data and technology, run by entrepreneurs and industry experts. Allow us to help you as you level up your mobility.