Why Gen Z's and Millennials Would Rather Work for Themselves Than for You

Cheryl Cran

October 08, 2018

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If you have been irked or challenged by millennials, then get ready for them, plus gen Z.

Gen Z's are born between 1995 and 2010, and they will represent 25% of the United States population by the year 2020. Together, the two generations' desire to choose entrepreneurship over 'jobs' are making it tough for employers to recruit and retain.

Millennials have been labeled by baby boomers and gen x's as lazy, disengaged, and disloyal when, in fact, millennials see themselves as creative, resourceful, and loyal to those who treat them well.

Millennials have been leading the movement toward choosing to be entrepreneurs rather than work for an employer. In fact, according to BNP Paribas report, millinnipreneurs are leading the rate of entrepreneurial ventures over any other generation. The main driver for millennials being their own boss is freedom, flexibility, and control over money as it contributes to lifestyle.

Generation Z does not consider themselves to be like millennials; they are willing to take more risk and do what it takes to own their own business. Gen Z is the most entrepreneurial generation in history. Over 60% of high school students say they would rather be entrepreneurs instead of employees, as do 43% of college students.

Gen Z's choose to create their own business over going to college. They favor the opportunity to learn through real-life business rather than to go into debt with student loans just to learn something that may or may not be relevant to their career. Traditional learning and time spent on classroom learning is viewed as being 'too slow' by the future-focused gen z. Recent estimates find that by 2020, generation z will make up 40% of e-learning customers.

So if gen z's and millennials are attracted to working for themselves, rather than a big brand or a business, let's look at why:

1. Depending on the industry, many businesses still operate on the nine-to-five 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 z's and millennials who favor working wherever they want (Starbucks, park, beach, etc.)

2. Millennials and gen z like activities that inspire them; they want to work on projects that are creative, that solve a world problem, and that lets them use their unique skills. Most businesses still offer 'jobs' versus meaningful work.

3. Millennials and gen z look for inspiring leaders who will help them grow, who will mentor them to success, and who will share everything they know to help the career goals of the millenial and gen z's. In business, there are many leaders who operate from the leadership style of 'command and control' and have not made the shift toward collaborative and team-focused leadership.

4. Gen Z's see zero boundaries to creating their future—they see the ever-increasing technology innovations as their ticket to creating an abundant future. Many current jobs are not set up to 'solve' a problem—they are simply task focused.

5. Gen Z's and millennials thrive on the real-time outcomes of bringing an idea to fruition quickly—many times in current business the time it takes to get a creative idea into rapid production can be months—this is snail time in the mind of a gen z.

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 has high integration of robotics, AI, and automation will have greater appeal to gen z and millenials as they want to leverage and collaborate with technology to innovate the business.

Gen Z's and millennials are tired of the paradox of having no experience and missing opportunities. A great strategy is to model what is being done in South Africa with 'learnerships' an approach being used by educators and employers where the workers are educated AND are paid to learn on the job.

Shift the structure of your company toward creating meaningful projects and meaningful work. Companies can attract and engage more gen z's and millennials as freelancers and contractors in your company. With the rise of working for self, gen z's and millennials will be looking for clients just like you to work on projects. Set up the company with multiple ways of working, such as remote working, projects, team projects with senior leaders, and reverse mentoring (where the millennial or gen z mentor upwards).

Leaders need to embrace the entrepreneurial mindset of millennials and gen z and seek to 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 z are going to pursue entrepreneurship because of the allure of freedom, of 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 things, then they will be happy to freelance or contract with you, and if they see you as a partner they may work with you long term.

This article was originally published on the Silicon Republic.

Cheryl Cran is a future-of-work expert and the founder of NextMapping.com, a future-of-work research and consulting firm that helps leaders, teams, and entrepreneurs be future-ready.

She is the author of six books, including her new one due out at the end of 2018 titled,
NextMapping—How Great Leaders Inspire People to Create the Future of Work.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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