Millennials Are Rewriting the Definition of Work

Younger workers want to work where and when they want.

Federal agencies may be wise to expand benefits like telework and other mobile work programs in order to attract, hire and retain the younger generation of workers, almost all of whom are demanding schedules that allow them to work where and when they want, a new survey suggests.

The survey of more than 3,000 freelancers worldwide, including 1,958 Millennials aged 19 to 30, by Millenial Branding and oDesk found that almost all have a freelance attitude when it comes to work. Eighty-nine percent prefer to work when and where they choose over having regular corporate office hours, with more than half (58 percent) agreeing that the standard workday is becoming obsolete.

Among those surveyed who were still at regular, 9-to-5 jobs, 72 percent want to quit their jobs in favor of a freelance position, with most citing freedom as the top reason for their desire to quit. Most saw freelancing as providing an opportunity to work wherever they like (92 percent), work whenever they like (87 percent), work on more interesting projects (69 percent) and travel while working versus taking vacation time (50 percent).

In addition, the majority of respondents are serious about leaving their jobs in favor of freelancing, with 61 percent saying they are likely to quit their traditional job within two years.

Millennials’ affinity for freelance work also may be helping them to rewrite the definition of “entrepreneur,” with 60 percent of respondents defining the term as someone with a certain mindset -- such as being a self-starter, risk-taker and visionary -- rather than one who starts a company. Under this definition, nearly 60 percent of respondents classify themselves as entrepreneurs, the study found. 

Meanwhile, it may be time for Baby Boomers to move out of the way when it comes to leadership, the study suggests. Respondents of all generations surveyed said Generation X (those aged 31 to 48) is best suited to run today’s businesses and lead the future of work. Two-thirds of Millennials said their own generation is best suited, versus 31 percent of those from other generations who said Millennials are the most qualified to lead.

Are these new trends rewriting the definition of work at your agency? Can government keep up with the changing demands of the Millennial workforce?