As technological developments propel the workplace forward more quickly than ever before, the way people work is dramatically changing. With the ability to connect from anywhere at any time, employees are beginning to experience increased flexibility and autonomy in their work. Technological resources make it possible—and necessary—to constantly learn new skills. In a global marketplace, the search for talent often extends all over the world, and contract-based work is becoming more common. Add to this a cultural shift toward pursuing work that is personally meaningful, and the emerging workplace model looks progressively different than the traditional work paradigm.
Many people contend these changes are being driven by the Millennial generation—younger adults aged 18 to 34 who are relatively new to the workforce. Members of this generation tend to adopt and master new technology quickly and easily and are prepared to leverage new tools to improve and simplify how they work. Likewise, they understand the power of technology to foster connection and collaboration and tend to seek an increased level of freedom over their work locations and schedules.
But how much influence do Millennials really have over the evolving workplace, and how do members of that generation feel about the changes that are taking place or could in the near future?
The ADP Research Institute® (ADP RI), a specialized group within ADP, conducted a qualitative and quantitative study among employers and employees in four major regions: North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific. The study surveyed companies and workers in all age groups regarding new workplace trends and how employees perceive these trends.
Although Millennials may share similar values about workplace freedom and finding personal fulfillment in their work, the study indicated their feelings about whether changes are possible vary based on where they live. In North America, workplace change tends to be challenged by older generations. While younger workers in this region are hopeful certain changes will come about, their survey responses reflected doubt over whether companies will make the shift. For example, both Millennial men and women in this region place a high value on work-life balance and are increasingly expecting companies to adapt to this.
Similarly to North America, Europe has a large population of older workers who are less eager to see changes in the workplace. The region is adopting reformed approaches to education that will prepare students from a very early age for careers in the technology-driven global workforce. This could give Millennials in the region an edge in the workplace, as they possess technology skills older workers may not have. Workers in this region already enjoy a certain degree of work flexibility that the rest of the world is catching up to, so changes in workplace freedom may not be as dramatic here as in other regions.
Millennials surveyed in both North America and Europe tended to express negative feelings toward changes such as companies searching globally for talent and automation replacing some work tasks.
In Latin America, Millennials are eager to adopt new technologies. The study showed that young people in this region were significantly more likely than those in other regions to use social media as a platform for work collaboration. Additionally, Millennials are excited about more companies in the region using technology to measure and impact employee well-being.