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Building Contact Center Love: 4 Myths and 4 Realities About Attracting and Retaining Millennials

February 8, 2023

Born between 1981 and 1997, Millennials are the largest generation, making up more than 50% of the global workforce. Yet, they are perhaps the most misunderstood. This is a generation that grew up in the aftermath of 9/11 and one of the worst global recessions, and though many aspired to make the world a better place, most are settling for just paying the bills. Often labelled the “Entitled Generation”, Millennials are frequently mischaracterized as lazy and self-absorbed. But they are hardworking, they’re resilient, and they’re excellent team players, and the reason employers are having difficulties attracting and retaining Millennials, might be because of these 4 Millennial Myths. 

Myth #1 - Millennials care most about meaningful work.  

Millennial workers made their way into the workplace when the economy collapsed, layoffs began, and full-time opportunities were replaced with part-time work. Under crushing student debt, many struggled from job to job in search of enough pay to cover the bills, which often gave them the undeserved reputation for disloyalty. What they really craved was purpose and meaning in their work. Not just a job, but a career, where they felt valued and empowered to drive change both within their organization and in their community. 

The Reality – Meaning matters, but so does paying the bills. 

However, now, many Millennials have changed their minds. Though 55% still think that meaningful work is a critical factor in accepting a job, a recent study showed that over half of Millennials now hold a job for more practical reasons. This could be because the average Millennial aged 25 to 34 has a whopping $42,000 in debt, and almost 50% live paycheck to paycheck. After a decade or so of prioritizing meaningful work that may not cover all the bills, many have racked up significant debt. So, it’s not surprising that when asked what would make their job more fulfilling, 87% cited higher pay.  

Myth #2 – Millennials want freedom from the office cubicle so they can travel and have fun.  

While 76% of Millennials prefer remote work options, it may have more to do with balancing increasingly complex lives, rather than the ability to take a yoga class during lunch or the freedom to travel. Almost half of Millennials have children, while older Millennials may also be balancing caregiving responsibilities for their parents. They value social connection and time spent with family and friends and are often torn between their careers and leading a fulfilling life at home. In fact, 70% have considered leaving a job because it lacked flexible work options that allowed for a work-life balance. 

The Reality – It’s not so much about flexibility as balance 

A recent Deloitte report found that Millennials are the most stressed generation. 40% say they’re stressed all the time and may seek flexible work options simply to cope with the demands of family and career. They have higher burnout rates than any other generation, citing intense workloads (45%), and long hours (24%), and though they grew up alongside technology, many Millennials feel it has become intrusive and has led to a stressful “always on” workplace mentality. Mental health is such a concern, that when job hunting, 80% say they seriously consider how a position will affect their work-life balance.  

Myth #3 – Millennials are self-absorbed and social media obsessed. 

Called the “selfie generation”, by age twelve, most Millennials had the internet and mobile phones, which soon gave way to smartphones. They witnessed the birth of social media, saw the first days of Facebook and the rise of Instagram. As a result, they are the most socially connected generation, strongly influenced by word of mouth (82%) and social media content (68%), and comfortable sharing every detail of their lives online. But just because their social channels are all about them, it may be more a sign of an individualistic tendency, a product of “self-esteem” movements throughout the 90s, and high self-confidence, rather than overt narcissism.  

The Reality – The “selfie” generation is more selfless than you think. 

Millennials have a powerful desire to give back. According to Deloitte, 90% say that business’ success should be measured by more than profit and they are passionate about the environment, pushing employers to act on climate change. Concerned with gender equality and workplace diversity, over 50% of Millennials say they wouldn’t work for certain companies because of their values or conduct (15% even quit their job due to lack of diversity & inclusion), and the pandemic only made them more motivated for change. Today, over a third of Millennials volunteer or belong to a community charity.  

Myth #4 – Millennials aren’t loyal to employers and will switch jobs often.  

The latest Gallup poll found that 21% of Millennials have changed jobs in the past year, which is three times more than any other generation. And 50% of employed Millennials don’t think they’ll be working at their current company a year from now. That means that many don’t see a future with their employers, and according to the same research, 36% are already eyeing new jobs at other organizations. Maybe because Millennials have the lowest engagement in the workplace (29%), proving that the problem may not be with loyalty, but that companies aren’t giving them compelling reasons to stay.  

The Reality – Employers aren’t giving them the careers they want. 

There are many reasons why retention is a problem with Millennials. Deloitte’s report found that 70% reported that their leadership skills aren’t being fully developed and only 28% feel that their skills are being fully utilized. Yet, a recent CBRE report found that the majority of Millennials (62%) would prefer to change jobs as infrequently as possible and other research found that 53% even aspire to become leaders or executives in their current companies. This proves that Millennials want to stay with their employers and build long-term careers, but a lack of opportunities is causing them to look elsewhere. 

What to Consider When Trying to Attract and Retain Millennials 

In the end, the key to attracting and retaining Millennials may be more about solving the mismatch between what they want and what employers are offering.  

When it comes to contact center jobs, highlight the benefits of job flexibility and remote work options, such as itel’s work-at-home team, while also offering fair pay and chances for personal and professional development, like itel’s iRise Training Program, that trains and promotes from within. This gives Millennials the chance to receive the mentorship, learning and advancement opportunities they so desperately crave and will encourage them to stay. This will also keep them engaged and invested in their jobs, which they will begin to view more as long-term careers.

It may be even more important to offer Millennials a sense of belonging, which can be achieved by a strong, inclusive, socially minded company culture that gives employees the chance to make real changes in their workplace and their communities. Much like we do with itel’s 4Ys Foundation, encourage involvement in work-sponsored charities, programs, and volunteer opportunities outside of work, so Millennials can find meaning and feel like their contributions aren’t limited to the workplace.  

Interested in learning more about itel’s Culture and Careers and how we do things differently? Click here.  

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