The Rise of the Millennial Workforce in Law Firms
By now, you are probably aware of some of the stereotypes affecting the millennial generation (those born between 1982 and 1997). Often considered to be lazy workers who are entitled and narcissistic, millennials actually display a very similar work ethos to those from other generations. In fact, while two-thirds of employees from all generations expressed a lack of connection to their place of work, members of the millennial generation are the ones who are taking steps to achieve positive changes in workplaces across the country. Let’s look at some ways that millennial workers are influencing the workplace environment for the better.
1. Making Work Meaningful
While members of older generations may have been content to see a job as a mere set of duties, millennials are passionate about ensuring their work matters. They want to contribute meaningfully to society through what they do. Millennials see an occupation as the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally, and they want to learn and develop throughout the course of their career. As a result, more employers are putting a greater amount of thought into their mission statements, hoping to attract employees whose values align with their own. Professionals are considering how they can give back to their communities, and there have been increased efforts to assess how a business or firm can best serve its clients and its partners.
2. Valuing Communication and Collaboration
Millennial workers enjoy frequent and direct communication with their superiors and peers. They prefer to collaborate with a superior to establish clear individual performance goals. Instead of sporadic performance reviews, millennials favor more frequent and informal feedback, allowing them to consistently incorporate any suggestions into their work practice. This shift in communication style turns out to inspire more workplace engagement among all employees, regardless of their generation. Reports show that employees who had discussed their goals and successes with a superior within the last six months were almost three times more likely than other workers to be fully engaged at work. The more employees felt heard and valued by their peers and superiors, the more connected, engaged, and productive they felt.
3. Advocating for Job Flexibility
As commuting time grows in most cities around the country, more employees are hoping to find jobs with at least some flexibility for working remotely. Millennials led the movement to establish more flexible positions in many sectors, including law firms. As employers saw that their workers were more productive while working some hours offsite, they became more supportive of offering remote work. In fact, when employees spend between 60-80 percent of their time working offsite, productivity and engagement skyrocket. Advancements in technology have allowed employees to communicate effectively while offsite, and firms are realizing that hours spent physically in the office are not always hours that are productive. When employees are given some freedom to manage their own productivity, they feel more empowered and report feeling a better work-life balance. Although not all jobs can be handled remotely, many positions in the legal profession can be modified to encourage a blend of onsite and remote work.
4. Seeking Structures that Support Work-Life Balance
In addition to seeking job flexibility, millennial workers look for office cultures that have made conscious efforts to support the physical and mental health of their employees. Perks such as gym memberships, onsite juice bars, pet-friendly policies, and paid maternity leave attract millennial workers in huge numbers. If an office is willing to offer these benefits, it is indicative of the firm’s core values. While workers from other generations appreciate these perks, millennials are more likely than workers from other generations to change jobs simply to enjoy these kinds of benefits. As more offices are implementing these changes, employees of all ages are enjoying a better balance between work and family life.