Why Millennials and Gen Z Would Rather Work for Themselves than You

Want to know why Millennials and Gen Z would rather work for themselves than you? If you have been challenged by Millennial employees, then get ready for them plus Gen Z! Gen Zs are those born between 1995 and 2010, and they will represent 25% of the U.S. population by 2020.


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The two generations’ choosing entrepreneurship over “jobs” is making it tough for employers to recruit and retain talent. Millennials have been labeled by Baby Boomers and Gen Xers as lazy, disengaged, and disloyal, but Millennials see themselves as creative, resourceful, and loyal to those who treat them well.
Millennials have been leading the movement toward becoming entrepreneurs rather than employees. In fact, according to a BNP Paribas report, younger workers are leading the rate of entrepreneurial ventures over previous generations.
The main drivers for Millennials being their own boss are freedom, flexibility, and control over money as it contributes to lifestyle. Gen Zs differ from Millennials in that they are willing to take more risks and do what it takes to own their own business.
Gen Z has become the most entrepreneurial generation in history. More than 60% of high school students and 43% of college students say they would rather be entrepreneurs than employees.
Gen Zs are choosing to create their own business over going to college. They would rather learn through real-life business than go into student debt to learn something that may not be relevant to their career. Traditional learning and time spent on classroom learning are viewed as being “too slow” by future-focused Gen Zs. Recent estimates find that by 2020, Gen Z will make up 40% of e-learning customers.

Why Can’t I Attract Millennials and Gen Z Employees?

Many businesses still operate on the 9-to-5 model or a variation of that model. Traditional industries are still focused on a fixed office location and set hours. This makes it unappealing to Gen Zs and Millennials, who favor working wherever and whenever they want.
Millennials and Gen Zs are attracted to activities that inspire them. They want to work on projects that are creative, that solve a world problem, and that let them use their unique skills. Most businesses still offer “jobs” versus meaningful work. Millennials and Gen Zs are looking for inspiring leaders who will help them grow, mentor them for success, and share knowledge to help them advance in their careers.
There are many leaders currently in business who are still using the “command and control” leadership style and have not made the shift toward collaborative and team-focused leadership. Gen Zs see zero boundaries to creating their future—they see increasing technology innovations as their ticket to creating a lucrative future. Many current jobs are not set up to “solve” a problem—they are simply task-focused. Gen Zs and Millennials thrive on the real-time outcome of quickly bringing an idea to fruition. Often in current business, it can take months to get a creative idea into rapid production, which is snail time to Gen Zs.

How to Attract Millennials and Gen Zs

The good news is that you can still attract and engage these generations but not in the ways that may have worked in the past. Any company that integrates artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will have greater appeal to Gen Zs and Millennials, as these generations want to leverage and collaborate with technology to innovate business.
Gen Zs and Millennials are tired of not having opportunities to gain experience. A great strategy would be to model “learnerships,” an approach used by educators and employers in South Africa in which the workers are educated and paid to learn on the job.
Shift the structure of your company toward creating meaningful projects and work. Companies can attract and engage more Gen Zs and Millennials as freelancers and contractors. With the rise of entrepreneurships, Gen Zs and Millennials will be looking for clients just like you to work on projects.
Offer multiple ways to work in your company, such as working remotely, projects, team projects with senior leaders, and reverse mentoring (where Millennials or Gen Zs mentor upward). Leaders must embrace the entrepreneurial mind-set of Millennials and Gen Zs and inspire and consistently provide career path insights, growth opportunities, and recognition and reward for work well done.
The bottom line is that Millennials and Gen Zs are going to pursue entrepreneurism because of the freedom, the reward for interesting work, and the ability to earn as much as they need to support their lifestyle. If you can offer them the same, then they will be happy to freelance or contract with you and may even work with you long term.

Cheryl Cran
Cheryl Cran is a Future of Work Expert and author of “NextMapping – Anticipate, Navigate and Create the Future of Work.” Cran is also the founder of NextMapping/NextMapping.com and the CEO of parent company Synthesis at Work Inc.
For over 2 decades, Cran has built a reputation for delivering extraordinary value to clients that include AT&T, Bell Mobility, Omnitel, Gartner, British Telcomm, and Manulife, as well as midsize companies and entrepreneurs in industries that include technology, health, agriculture, finance, insurance, and more.
NextMapping was developed as a proprietary business solution brand that encompasses all of Cran’s work and research on the future of work, as well as the leadership needed to navigate change in the workplace. It’s time to not just hear about the future but also use NextMapping to get there! Technology in the workplace must be used to prepare for the future, with a focus on how technology can enhance outcomes for people.