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Millennials and Work.
Old 10-16-2014, 10:31 AM   #1
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Millennials and Work.

I'm starting a separate thread so as not to hijack imoldernu's excellent discussion on the future of work.

My question is this: Are the workers of the Millennial Generation a different breed altogether?

I see the millennial generation who seem to have a better balance of work/play and wonder if the future of 'work' is about things like working from home, taking a lot of time off and (seemingly) willing to make less money in order to spend more time with friends (i.e. hang out in coffee houses at 2pm) etc.

They may 1) view us oldsters who killed ourselves "for the company" as out of balance OR 2) they believe that they can't really get ahead and, as a result are defining different values i.e. making the best of a bad situation.

Cars, nice houses and nice clothes seem to be secondary to not working too hard/too many hours and having time to do more personal things. A shared apartment in the city with a bicycle seem to be more valued than a highly successful high paying career.

Personally, I find their perspective a bit of heresy ("those lazy bums; get a real job!") but I do often wonder if they got it right instead of those of us who often gave up so much for career and the 9 to 5.

Comments?
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:16 AM   #2
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You make choices and have to live with the consequences. If a young person wants to work less, or for less money, then don't bitch and complain when retirement age comes around and they can't quit working. I think too many young people are idealistic in their views and reality will catch up to them.

While myself being end of the baby boomer generation, I still believe in the basic work hard and reap the rewards model. I am not going to be reliant on gov't, in fact I want less gov't and ability to best use my money how I want. Not by forced social redistribution. I think many younger folks are just resolved to being more socialist than I am comfortable with.
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:36 AM   #3
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It could just be circumstance too. Twenty years ago, it wasn't as easy to log into the company network and work at home as it is now.

I watched a segment on the PBS Newshour about the new "sharing economy" and one economist they interviewed said that in ten years, 50% of the working population could be micro-entrepreneurs and freelancers. My first thought was how difficult it would be to raise children in that kind of environment.
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:46 AM   #4
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You make choices and have to live with the consequences. If a young person wants to work less, or for less money, then don't bitch and complain when retirement age comes around and they can't quit working. .
Well, that's sort of what I'm wondering about. I don't think they have any illusions of retirement at all and, if you're only working 15 hours a week tapping on a laptop (or whatever it'll be in 30 years) you can do that until you're 80.

Considering that, I wonder if they are already "semi/early retirees" in a way...picking up odd jobs, not making a lot, but not spending a lot, bartering and Starbucks-ing their way through life.

You're probably right in that they view entitlements differently (more socialistic) but I keep coming back to a better balance of life and work.

Of course, there are huge economic impacts as spending is reduced and/or diverted to other things.

My view is that they have entirely, entirely different expectations of what life is about and what it should entail.
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:00 PM   #5
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They definitely have very different work/life balance than my generation. DD works long hours, but recently decided to move to a less demanding job that will provide better work/life balance. It is funny that DD rails on how the "younger generation" (3-5 years younger than her) have a flimsy work ethic.

Nephew is very focused on work/life balance, to a fault, and actually quit a job he liked because of the "long" 40 minute commute and that he couldn't join his buds for happy hour on Fridays because of the commute. Short sighted IMO but he'll need to live with the consequences.

Both however live well within their means and are prodigious savers so I think they will both do well in the long run.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by 38Chevy454 View Post
I think too many young people are idealistic in their views and reality will catch up to them.
Water is wet!

It just depends on how long it takes reality to catch up! Some are industrious, others not so much. Same as it ever was, IMO.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:34 PM   #7
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Many Millennials have a somewhat bi-polar view of life. On the one hand, they want work/life balance, but on the other hand want "equality" in the workplace. This equality includes equal pay based on a variety of social factors, but strangely enough, doesn't seem to include "equal work." It seems foreign to many Millennials that someone who chooses work over play (i.e., no work/life balance, or at least one skewed towards work) should be paid *more* than someone who chooses to have a family, hobbies, take every available vacation day, etc.... Mind you, I'm not saying people shouldn't do these things, but they are *choices* not obligations. The entrepreneur who puts in 80+ hour weeks should be paid more than the guy/gal who only puts in 40 hour weeks. It's no different than the guy/gal who chooses to get an advanced degree, expert certifications, etc... Such efforts merit reward, despite what a generation of Millennials, many of whom received "participation" medals growing up, might think about the "unfairness" of things.

There are some Millennials who want to work hard and climb the corporate ladder, but many feel frustrated that there isn't room due to older generations clinging to high-paying positions to rebuild stock portfolios decimated from 2008 onward (and even today). Some of these Millennials have reached such a frustration point that they've decided they might as well enjoy their lives, since working hard isn't going to get them anywhere.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:50 PM   #8
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I think it's hard to paint "millennials" with a broad brush (contrary to media efforts to do exactly that). Some want to work hard and make a ton of money, others value freedom, not having a boss, time to travel, etc.

I had discussions with the president of my former employer about how "my generation" (I was born in 1980) wanted things other than working 60/hrs per week for a corporation. Like flexible working hours, leave of absences to pursue other things, working remotely, etc. He looked at me like I was crazy. And he was only 10-15 years older than me (maybe 40-45 at the time). He came to me and said "FUEGO, I don't understand these young workers today. What do they want?". Guess he didn't like the answers.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:04 PM   #9
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Some would say I'm a millenial, was born in 1980, so some thoughts. Nothing wellfounded, so take a grain of salt

In my view maybe it's not a generation thing per se but a wealth and income thing, together with how the job market has evolved.

In poor countries and in the US/Europe not so long ago, if you didn't work all day long you'd starve or freeze to death.

Now, with a few hours of work here and there, you can have cable, good food, entertainment, sports, a social life, air conditioning. In many European countries the welfare system is so well built out you don't even need the few hours of work.

Furthermore, the pay difference between entry level work and the first few levels higher up are flattening. Only at the very top do you get outsized salaries and income. Chances to get there are very low, and require hard work and luck.

Additionally, job security is gone, and flexibility is a given. On the flip side, you are allowed to switch careers a few times. Your attitude matters more, and punishment for dropping out of the workforce is less.

Result: a few high flyer income earners at the top and a whole new class of workers that drop in and out of the workforce at the bottom, with no ambition to go against the odds and aim for the top.

And the top income earners rack up (semi-)financial independence so fast they'll very soon ask themselves the question: if not for the money, then why?

And alot of them come up with no clear answer, and semi-FIRE. Like me
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:24 PM   #10
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A couple of thoughts here, as the parent of two millennials.

1) First and foremost, we created this generation. Many of us were parented by the generation that 'discovered' self expression and self actualization, along with divorce, in the 60's, and found family life a bit lacking as a result. We weren't coddled . . . at all. And I, for one, wouldn't have minded just a bit more coddling! So, as a result many of us went way overboard in raising our own kids, determined not to do to them what we felt had been done to us.

2) In our determination to provide a better life for our children than we perceived had been provided to us, many of us we went waaay overboard and worked like dogs. Our kids saw that, and rejected it. Just as we rejected the self-centered generation that we perceived had raised us.

My kids, both college educated and then some, are doing just fine. Their way is a bit different from ours, but they seem just as happy as we were at their age.

Actually, scratch that. They seem happier, because I believe they've found a way to achieve balance in life. So, perhaps they work longer, or they live/retire less extravagantly. They may just possibly end up enjoying life a lot more along the way than those of us that came before did.

But mark my words, the children of the Millennials will soundly reject the pursuit of life/work balance that was achieved by their parents, and find their own unique niche in adulthood, just as every single generation before them has done.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:49 PM   #11
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As someone who is a millennial and starting out in the work force I feel like I could weigh in on this. I think a lot of people this generation just don't have the corporate ambition of generations in the past and that's not a bad thing. Whereas before you HAD to work until 65 to get a company pension and going home ment maybe listening to the radio and eating the same simple meals over and over, people have choices now.

How long have IRAs and 401ks/403bs been around? The internet, netflix, craft beer, etc...? People don't live in a slum apartment with nothing to do all day like in the past (obviously not TOTALLY true but just hear me out) If I want to live in the city and work just enough for rent, netflix, and dining once a week I can do that and be happy. In the past people spent good money to watch cartoons in a movie theatre, now I have 1000s of shows and movies at my beck and call for an hour of minimum wage each month. Most apartments I've been in have at least tolerable conditions and location matters more than ever. For those who want to earn big money it's easier to do so now, now my money is separate from my employer and not led hostage via a pension until I'm old. We have mutual funds, index funds, online trading platforms.... I can build my own retirement or income streams to fund the life I want instead of the traditional life in the past.

I don't think millenials are any lazier than enervation of the past, I think they just have more opportunities to create the life they want to have, and the ability to have comforts is cheaper than ever. Sure there's slackers in our generation like every other one, but nowadays there's a new story everyday focusing on that. Did the news report everyday that there were lazy boomers who didn't want to work 6 days a week? This generation has seen what people who buy material possessions can wind up with in a bad economy, their solution may be to just have fewer things to start with and live an easier life as they see fit.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:59 PM   #12
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As someone who is a millennial and starting out in the work force I feel like I could weigh in on this. I think a lot of people this generation just don't have the corporate ambition of generations in the past and that's not a bad thing. Whereas before you HAD to work until 65 to get a company pension and going home ment maybe listening to the radio and eating the same simple meals over and over, people have choices now.

How long have IRAs and 401ks/403bs been around? The internet, netflix, craft beer, etc...? People don't live in a slum apartment with nothing to do all day like in the past (obviously not TOTALLY true but just hear me out) If I want to live in the city and work just enough for rent, netflix, and dining once a week I can do that and be happy. In the past people spent good money to watch cartoons in a movie theatre, now I have 1000s of shows and movies at my beck and call for an hour of minimum wage each month. Most apartments I've been in have at least tolerable conditions and location matters more than ever. For those who want to earn big money it's easier to do so now, now my money is separate from my employer and not led hostage via a pension until I'm old. We have mutual funds, index funds, online trading platforms.... I can build my own retirement or income streams to fund the life I want instead of the traditional life in the past.

I don't think millenials are any lazier than enervation of the past, I think they just have more opportunities to create the life they want to have, and the ability to have comforts is cheaper than ever. Sure there's slackers in our generation like every other one, but nowadays there's a new story everyday focusing on that. Did the news report everyday that there were lazy boomers who didn't want to work 6 days a week? This generation has seen what people who buy material possessions can wind up with in a bad economy, their solution may be to just have fewer things to start with and live an easier life as they see fit.
+1 Wow! Nice response and your insights are what I had suspected but you put it all down in a succinct few paragraphs!

You say "more opportunities to create the life they want"...I wonder if there is a lot less stigma to going your own way as well. Less pressure to follow the herd.

Thanks!
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Old 10-16-2014, 03:06 PM   #13
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Many of the boomer generation, including me, hesitated to work for the "man", for many, often misguided, reasons. Some continued that throughout life, and some, like me, decided that poverty wasn't really all that much fun.

I w*rk in a university research facility, and the place is crawling with millennials workings their assets off getting masters and doctorates.
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Old 10-16-2014, 03:12 PM   #14
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I'm a baby boomer but have come around to a way of thinking that is similar to the Millennial way of thinking, and so have many of my contemporaries. My co-worker Bill said it really well yesterday: "Work is what we do so we can (afford to) spend quality time with family." I now firmly believe that people are what matters, and work, accomplishment, revenue growth, etc., exist to facilitate personal connections at some level. I got here by realizing what was important to me. Maybe many Millennials got there as a reaction to a measure of futility they perceive in the other prospect. Doesn't matter. It is what it is.
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Old 10-16-2014, 04:19 PM   #15
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Old 10-16-2014, 05:41 PM   #16
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I don't think millenials are any lazier than enervation of the past, I think they just have more opportunities to create the life they want to have, and the ability to have comforts is cheaper than ever
So very well said! So many things have changed - when I started working it was expected that one would have, at most, two or three jobs before settling down in one place for a career where one would stay until retirement. That's not a very good plan now! Yesterday's "unstable job hopper" is the norm and practically a requirement.
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Millennials and Work.
Old 10-16-2014, 05:57 PM   #17
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Millennials and Work.

It's interesting that on one hand, millennials will never be able to save or take care of themselves, but on the other hand, there are tons of anecdotes on this site - not to mention the linked studies/articles - on how baby boomers have nothing saved for retirement.

Am I the only one who sees the irony?
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Old 10-16-2014, 06:05 PM   #18
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It's interesting that on one hand, millennials will never be able to save or take care of themselves, but on the other hand, there are tons of anecdotes on this site - not to mention the linked studies/articles - on how baby boomers have nothing saved for retirement.

Am I the only one who sees the irony?
No, you're not. It is starting to look to me like the millennials as a group are very much aware that they need to save/invest from a very early start if they are to have even a prayer of anything approaching a decent retirement.

About a month ago I sent a box of books on investing to a 24-year-old who knew that but didn't know how to go about it and had the sense to ask.

When I was 25 I bought an airplane.
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Old 10-16-2014, 06:06 PM   #19
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Have you seen the new benefits that today's corporation are offering to this new group. No Pension, very expensive medical plan if available, very low wages, and you can forget about any reasonable increase. Today's corporations have started a new transformation that one day they will regret. In the old days, any time a new rule was created it was apply to everyone on a equal basis. I have gone through some new rules that do not apply to management but do apply to everyone below a certain grade. I do tell the new hires to learn as much as they can and jump ship when a new opportunity comes along. New dog learning new tricks!!!
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Old 10-16-2014, 06:35 PM   #20
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From an early Gen-Xer's perspective:

New compensation plans of most businesses are breeding this type of behavior.

With much of the long term compensation (ie pensions, retirement health care etc) gone, it is literally another day for another dollar. If someone offers folks a few dollars more, then there usually is no financial reason to stick around. (sometimes accrued vacation may be the exception to this rule, but often that can be negotiated).

A rep from HR at my MegaCorp basically said this to a group: "We only want to pay you when your are working...". Sure a 401k plan is nice but in the end money is fungible.

You may find the following an interesting read about techniques used to retain senior employees (other than direct pay):

Corporate Heroin: A Defense of Perks, Executive Loans, and Conspicuous Consumption

Quote:
We make an analogy to drug dependency: the employee who consumes all her resources immediately enjoys large present utility, as does the addict, but is ultimately dependent on the firm to provide her with the same opportunities in the future.
-gauss
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