Work-life for millennials

SUITS THE C-SUITE By Julie Christine O. Mateo

Business World (06/08/2015 – p.S1/4)

Many industries consider millennials, also known as Generation Y or those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, as their largest market for growth. Given the proclivities of millennials, this seems particularly true in the areas of technology, social media, and information delivery. Yet, companies should also consider millennials not just as a market, but also as a significant segment of their human resources. Studies from the US Bureau of Census have shown that millennials now comprise the largest segment of the American work force, and the same likely holds true for the rest of the world. In fact, projections estimate that millennials will form 50% of the global work force in the next five to 10 years.

In the Philippines, millennials are estimated to form about 1/3 of the population or around 35 million people.

Let us pause to consider the mind-set of millennials. As the product of a technological age — some articles have even defined them as “a generation that has never known a world without the Internet,” millennials grew up in a very rapidly changing world, which has led to viewpoints, motivations and desires that are very different from those of their parents.

Being used to on-demand gratification, millennials don’t necessarily have the same traditional work ethic as earlier generations, where loyalty and being a team player were more valued over creativity and being open to new things. However, being comfortable with technology means that millennials bring with them ideas and skills that require businesses to innovate and to remain competitive in a world gone increasingly digital.

Considering the above, it becomes readily apparent that understanding the professional challenges facing millennials should become part of any company’s recruitment and employee retention strategy. This is part of the reason why EY recently conducted a study called Global Generations on thousands of professionals from eight countries, namely the USA, United Kingdom, India, Mexico, Japan, China, Germany and Brazil. The survey shows that millennials and parents are feeling increasing pressure in their jobs. While the survey studied a cross-section of employees from 18-68 years old, we will focus in this article on the data specific to millennials.


The survey reveals that 47% of millennials have been working longer hours — more than 40 hours a week — over the last five years compared with older generations. Considering that this is the time when millennials are either moving up into management or starting families, many millennials feel that they are having a harder time juggling work, family and personal responsibilities, the main reasons being increasing expenses without corresponding increases in wages, and increasing responsibilities at work.


The survey also looked into why millennials leave their jobs. While it may be no surprise that stagnant wages is one of the top reasons why millennials quit, increasing work-life challenges are also cited. The other reasons include:

· lack of opportunity to advance;
· excessive overtime hours;
· a work environment that does not encourage teamwork; and
· a boss who does not allow flexibility.


Flexibility, in particular, seems to be a key desire for many millennials, who are 78% more likely to have a spouse or partner who is also working full-time. Most millennials want the ability to work flexible times while still being on track for promotion and without any stigma from colleagues. Some of the things millennials want include paid parental leave, on-site or subsidized child care, and the ability to telecommute one to two days a week. What is interesting is that most millennials (44% of respondents) are willing to take pay cuts to enjoy more flexibility. They indicate that finding “me” time is one of their major challenges.

The survey thus reveals that companies which want to retain millennials have to consider offering holistic pay and benefits that include flexibility, creating a culture where flexibility is not detrimental to career progression, and providing paid parental leave for both men and women.


While the Philippines was not included in the survey, several of the findings are relevant for our local employment market, notably in what millennials in corporate environments look for and stay with in a job. Flexibility also seems more and more advisable and may even be a boost to productivity and cost reduction, given the extremes of traffic congestion and transportation issues affecting Metro Manila and other urban centers in the country.

While Filipino millennials share many of the attributes as their counterparts elsewhere in the world — such as the exposure to technology, Internet usage, social media presence, instant messaging through mobile or online platforms, and many others, they also have to deal with economic, cultural and employment conditions that are far different from the survey’s respondent countries. One such difference is the endemic trend for Filipinos to seek employment or residency in other countries. Since Filipino millennials are young, have a more global mind-set and are eager for better opportunities and compensation, the likelihood of seeking opportunities abroad is very high.

Local employers who wish to attract and retain the best young talent will need to develop a deeper understanding of the specific motivations and desires of Filipino millennials. Not only do companies need to provide attractive packages, they also need to cater to the millennial’s hunger for new experiences. They not only need to create a strong presence in the channels that millennials exist in, i.e. social media and the Web, they should also listen more closely to what millennials are looking for in their careers and their prospective leaders. At the same time, they need to determine whether the company’s values still resonate with the younger generation.

This is why at SGV, for example, we have started transitioning into the Knowledge Process Outsourcing arena by establishing Talent Hubs that allow our professionals to work with global teams and handle international engagements without having to leave the country. These arrangements give our people the opportunity to experience global cultures while still building solid careers here at home. At the same time, we continuously endeavor to create an inclusive and progressive working environment that embraces diversity, leverages on technology to allow more flexibility, and provides meaningful professional development that is aligned to our greater purpose of building a better working world for our people, clients and communities. Whether we like it or not, every new generation challenges the status quo of business and society at large. By anticipating and addressing the preferences of millennials, we are — in essence — preserving the progeny of our organization.

Julie Christine O. Mateo is a Partner and the Head of Talent of SGV & Co.