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What millennials want from work and life

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Gallup recently began a major effort to find out makes the millennials — members of what is now the largest generation in the United States — tick.

The research and consulting company’s full report is available for purchase (you can read more about that here).  An abridged version is posted online. Both versions contain much of interest to insurance industry professionals.

“Millennials will change the world decisively more than any other generation,” Jim Clifton, Gallup’s chairman and CEO, writes in the introduction. “As this report shows, millennials will continue to disrupt how the world communicates – how we read and write and relate (…) Millennials are altering the very social fabric of America and the world.”

While the financial and insurance industries are struggling to find and keep new talent, agency owners and top executives are about to make more waves in the workforce with their retirement. Meanwhile, the demand for financial advisors (or go here for personal financial advisors) and insurance agents is going to increase in the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Gallup’s CEO offers recommendations for changes organizations should make to retain the millennials and keep them engaged in the workplace. He calls these functional changes the “Big Six,” all of which are listed below, along with a brief explanation.

1. From “my paycheck” to “my purpose”

Millennials want to work for organizations with a mission and purpose. They want more than a just a paycheck, which is a marked difference from baby boomers, whose “mission and purpose were 100 percent” their families and communities, according to the report. While fair compensation is important to Generation Y, the paycheck is not typically those workers’ main driver.

2. From “my satisfaction” to “my development”

You might’ve read about how office perks like having a Ping-Pong table or free food at different companies are the way to a millennials’ workplace heart. Clifton says that Gen Y doesn’t really care about all that: “Purpose and development drive this generation.”

3. From “my boss” to “my coach”

Out with the commanding and controlling boss; in with the coach who values them as people and employees, and who help millennials understand and build their strengths, Clifton says.

4. From “my annual review” to “my ongoing conversations”

Throw out the annual reviews strategy, and implement a continuous communication and feedback program instead. This aligns with millennials’ style of instant communication via texting, tweeting, Skype, etc., according to Clifton.

5. From “my weaknesses” to “my strengths”

“Gallup has discovered that weaknesses never develop into strengths, while strengths develop infinitely,” Clifton says. “This is arguably the biggest discovery Gallup or any organization has ever made on the subject of human development in the workplace.”

He also recommends that organizations shouldn’t ignore weaknesses, but should minimize them and maximize strengths.

6. From “my job” to “my life”

Gallup found that employees are asking themselves: Does the organization value their strengths and contributions? “Because for millennials, a job is no longer just a job – it’s their life as well,” Clifton says.

Here are more of the report’s findings:

Millennials are the least engaged generation in the workforce

Gallup found that only 29 percent of millennials are “engaged,” defined as being emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job and company, while 55 percent are not engaged. “They are indifferent about work and show up just to put in their hours,” the report states.

These numbers represent both the lowest with 29 percent and highest with 55 percent of all the other generations in the workforce. Gallup explains this by saying that while millennials are characterized as “entitled job-hoppers,” in reality they’re not engaged at work, they are indifferent.

“When they see what appears to be a better opportunity, they have every incentive to take it,” the report adds. “While millennials can come across as wanting more and more, the reality is that they just want a job that feels worthwhile – and they will keep looking until they find it.”

They are on the lookout for new jobs

The report found that 21 percent of millennials said they changed jobs within the last year. It also found that only half of millennials plan to stay on their current job one year from now. According to Gallup estimates, millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.

Another Gallup study cited in the report found that 60 percent of millennials said that they are “open to a different job opportunity,” which is 15 percentage points higher than the percentage for non-millennial workers.

Gen Yers also reported the greatest willingness to act on better opportunities. 

See also:

Why one young agent says she has the best job in the world

Here’s what the insurance agency of the (near) future might look like

The top 25 business jobs for 2016

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