For Millennials at Work, Flexibility and Freedom Trump Pay

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[contextly_auto_sidebar id="BwEa5TeHIsZoe3nShLAgnCzO5jDNQB6H"]New research from EY, a global professional services organization, confirms a conviction of mine: millennials at work care more about flexibility and freedom than pay. Those who want to woo millennials will definitely want to read this one.

TL;DR: Millennials want flexible work schedules, but they don't want to be stigmatized for it.

I've worked remotely since 2007, and have experienced almost every imaginable negative response from managers, clients and colleagues, most under the You work from home, so you must slack off during the day umbrella.

At a previous editorial job, we celebrated performance metrics -- most articles written or edited. It was a pressure cooker, with micromanagers all around.

It brought out a nasty side of me. I made a point to destroy all of the statistics from in-house employees, to prove a point: Results, not hours at a desk, matter. As long as I get results, and outperform my peers, leave me alone.

It shouldn't have to be so combative. And many millennials don't see a way out as they become managers and parents:

EY’s research indicates that about one in six have suffered some negative consequence, such as poorer pay or promotion opportunities, as a result of having a flexible work schedule. (This is the flexibility stigma at work.) Employees grapple with how to deal with the reality of flexibility stigmas and heavier work loads. Men are more likely to have changed jobs or careers, and are more likely to say they would be willing to do so to better manage work-life demands. They are also more willing to give up a promotion, move their families to another location to better accommodate work/family, move closer to extended family members, and take a pay cut to gain flexibility. Millennials are the generation most likely to say they would do the same.

Strikingly, 38 percent of U.S. Millennials say they would move to another country with better parental leave benefits. Via hbr.org

I see two possible outcomes:

  1. U.S. work culture doesn't change, and dissatisfied millennials leave the country or put off having kids. Both cripple our economy in the future.
  2. U.S. work culture begins shifting to a results-only work environment. We begin to see a clear delineation between ROWE and non-ROWE companies, especially as millennials enter their 40s and 50s and older generations begin to leave the workforce.