Youth Perspectives

4 ways millennial parents will shape the workplace of the future

A four year-old boy plays at a nursery.

Millennial parents are strongly motivated by their work-life balance, including devoting time to raising children. Image: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Aazia Mickens-Dessaso
Global Shaper, Norfolk Hub
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The traditional office is losing the battle for an emerging group of workers: millennial parents. Millennial women accounted for 82% of US births in 2016. At the same time, millennials made up 29% of the adult US population and more than a third of the US workforce.

This demographic shift has applied upward pressure on companies to provide basic benefits like parental leave and childcare assistance, though making good on this is far from universal. While that fight rages on, many millennial parents are leveraging digital technological advances to redefine the workplace. Here are four ways millennial parents will impact the future of work, according to trend data.

1. Millennial parents will create space to parent

Sixty-nine percent of millennial working parents in the US desire childcare on site at their place of work, citing trust and convenience as top priorities. Despite this, only 4-8% of Fortune 100 companies offer this. Executives name high costs and liability as dissuading factors to providing childcare on site, but emerging offerings such as dedicated rooms for breast-pumping and support for breastfeeding workers who travel may bridge the space between work and family in a way that takes into account working parents.

2. Millennial parents will connect productivity technology with parenting technology

Fifty percent of millennial mothers use technology to make juggling family and work easier. With an endless selection of digital apps, the best life and work tools not only have to work; they must all work together. It's not hard to imagine a world where a specialized app for new mothers reserves quiet times in their calendar so they can express milk. When these tools work in tandem, the information conveyed to and from parents has the potential to be more accurate, timely and contextual, alleviating common work-life conflicts.

3. Millennial parents will design for flexibility

Workplaces don’t just compete with one another for talent; they are competing with the option to not work in a “place” at all. In order to raise a family while pursuing a meaningful career, millennial parents need to be able to choose full-time, part-time, flexi-time, in-office or remote work according to their personal and professional obligations. According to a survey by Capital One, more than 80% of millennials agreed with the statement, “I have my best ideas when I’m able to use flexible workspace”. Statistics show workplaces that are proactive about providing flexibility of scheduling and physical space benefit more than those who don’t. This demand to work anywhere at any time will not only require employers to confront scheduling flexibility, it will also affect the way companies design offices themselves. Forward-thinking employers can address both sides of the solution by making it easy to request flexibility and by designing spaces that respond to coming and going.

4. Millennial parents will prioritize the parenting experience

Figures from Working Families show only a third (35%) of working parents in the United Kingdom manage to go home on time every day. Forty percent of parents working full time regularly work extra hours and, of those, almost a third put in the equivalent of seven extra hours (or an extra work day) each week. Eighty-three percent of millennials say they would leave a job if it did not offer adequate family benefits, forcing companies to consider ways to adapt their policies and culture. Employers who truly support working parents must ensure that shifts and meetings start and end on time, workloads are properly managed, and work pays well enough to provide for families. Otherwise millennial parents, keenly aware of their negotiating power and alternative options, will choose a working environment that meets their needs.

Have you read?

As the number of millennial parents in the workforce grows, companies must prepare for the challenges that lie ahead in the future of work. Recent technological advances and demographic shifts that have accompanied the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean millennial parents have more options and more leverage to demand better work-life support from employers.

To win in the competition for talent, employers must combine comprehensive paid parental leave and childcare support. Their best bet is to do this via innovative solutions that are responsive to the needs of a generation of parents saturated in tech.

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