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Millennials and the shape of things to come

by April 23, 2017 General


For six years now, Deloitte has been conducting a global, annual survey of working millennials to get a sense of their concerns, expectations for the future and attitudes toward businesses and their leaders.

As this generation begins to make up an increasingly big chunk of the workforce—in 2015, nearly half of employed Filipinos were millennials—Gen Y will also begin to wield more power and influence over the way businesses operate, the way leaders lead and maybe even the way we define value and success.

Based on results of the latest Deloitte survey, here are some insights into how millennials could shape the way we work as they begin to take on higher positions.

Not all millennials want to be freelancers…

It is widely assumed that the always connected and always on-the-go millennials popularized the “gig” economy—where organizations contract rather than employ independent workers for short-term engagements—to avoid being tied down to an 8-to-5 job. Maybe. But they’re surprisingly not subscribing to it.

Deloitte’s survey revealed that only 36 percent of Filipino millennials would prefer freelance work over full-time employment. And this isn’t unique to the Philippines: an even smaller proportion—just 31 percent—of their global peers prefer consultative employment.

This preference for permanent employment means the gig economy won’t be the new normal. At least not yet. And this could stem from uncertainty confronting millennials now.

Amid political noise in the Philippines, rise of populist and isolationist ideologies around the world and threat of terrorism across borders—among other things—millennials everywhere are looking for stability where they can get it, and their career is one of those areas. In the survey, reasons they most often gave for preferring a permanent job are that it offers “job security” and “a fixed income.”

But they don’t want 8-to-5 jobs either.

This, however, doesn’t mean that millennials want to be tied to their desks.

Most millennials who were polled—84 percent—said their organization offers some degree of flexible working arrangements, such as flexible time, flexible role (employees can choose what they do as part of their job), flexible recruitment (offering different types of contracts, crowd-sourcing talent, etc.) and flexible location.

Among Filipino millennials who work for organizations with moderate or low levels of flexibility, 88 percent said the flexibility has had a positive impact on their productivity. But if you zero in on Filipino millennials who work for organizations with highly flexible working environments, an overwhelming 92 percent of them said their productivity improved.

In fact, across the five aspects of work that Filipino millennials say have been most positively affected by flexible arrangements, improvements are more pronounced among those with highly flexible work environments.

As more and more millennials take on leadership or C-suite roles, expect organizations to develop more options for flexible work arrangements and to redefine what qualifies as a workspace.

Millennials welcome the rise of the robots…

If you’re still wary, or maybe even afraid, of automation, you might want to take your cue from your millennial employees. It seems like this generational cohort not only accepts the inevitability of automation, it embraces it.
Eight out of 10 Filipino millennials think that automation will improve overall productivity at work, while 74 percent believe it will promote economic growth. Only 29 percent of them are worried it will reduce the number of jobs available to them.

This kind of attitude reveals an openness to the possibilities that come with automation and advanced technology in general: While it may take some jobs away from people, it will also allow the human worker to do more, explore more and ultimately produce better results. With millennials at the lead, expect more advanced technology to disrupt even more areas of business.

…and the arrival of Gen Z in the workplace

This openness extends to the generation that follows millennials into the workforce. More than 8 out of 10 Filipino millennials (85 percent) believe that the Gen Z cohort—those aged 18 or younger—will have a positive impact as their presence in the workplace increases. Globally, 61 percent share this sentiment, and only 15 percent think Gen Z will actually be bad for the workplace.

This is good news for Gen Z, especially for those who are now entering the workforce, as they can count on their millennial peers to welcome them to the professional world and maybe even show them the ropes.
When Deloitte asked millennials what guidance they would give the next generation, the responses could be summed in these points:

Learn as much as possible; Work hard; Be patient; Be dedicated; Be flexible

If you’re one of those Baby Boomers or Gen-Xers who dismiss millennials as self-absorbed, entitled brats, you might want to consider that they also seem to be innovative, agile and unafraid of change. You have to admit, those are welcome attributes in an employee. And in a leader, those are the characteristics that will make for an exciting and dynamic future.

The author, Angelo Arboleda, is senior manager for Human Resources at Navarro Amper & Co., the local member firm of Deloitte Southeast Asia Ltd., a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited—comprising Deloitte practices operating in Brunei, Cambodia, Guam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.