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What is a Millennial? How Are Millennials Changing the Workplace?

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Millennials, like baby boomers, are a group defined by their birth dates. A "millennial" refers to someone who was born after 1980 or, more specifically, between 1977 and 1995.

Also referred to as Generation Y, Generation Why, Generation Next and Echo Boomers, this group currently comprises one-third of the American workforce and will soon become the majority as they come of age.

Estimated at 80 million, they outnumber baby boomers (73 million) and Generation X (49 million).

More Involved Fathers

The nickname 'Generation Why' refers to the questioning nature of millennials, who are the first generation to have grown up with PCs. Raised during "The Decade of the Child," millennials also benefitted from greater parental attention than in generations past, and more involved fathers. Their childhoods have influenced their understanding of gender roles in the home and the workplace and their future expectations.

Meaningful Work

Millennials are expected to create a cultural shift in the workplace. Already, millennials have expressed a desire to pursue work that is personally meaningful; they resist corporate hierarchy, and are accustomed to getting work done in a variety of environments -- not simply sitting at their desks. Flexible scheduling is of great appeal to millennials who place a high value on work-life balance.

Closing the Wage Gap

The millennials may also be the generation that closes the gender wage gap by the time they retire. Although women typically earn 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, among the millennials that gap is cut by half. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in comparing the median weekly earnings of male and female workers ages 16-34, women earned 91% of what men did.

Sources:
Gevirtz, Leslie. "U.S.'Millennial' women believe they can have it all." UK.reuters.com. 19 January 2010. Tilin, Andrew. "What is a millennial?" Bnet.com. 16 May 2008.
"Who are the Millennials? a.k.a. Generation Y." Millennial Fact Sheet, Deloitte.com. 2005.

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