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Millennials Change the WorkforceNo matter what you think of the young generation of workers commonly known as Generation Y or Millennials, they are now poised to take over the American workplace and upend the traditional view of work.

According to, 22 is the most common age in the current workforce, followed by 23 and 21.  This is the first time since 1947 that the most represented age has been outside the Baby Boomer generation.

It’s no secret that Millennials, those born roughly between the early 80’s and early 2000’s, have different views about work than their older counterparts. They are often seen as self-entitled job hoppers who need a reality check about how work really works. Now, as they begin to comprise a larger portion of the workforce, renowned employee recognition expert Dr. Bob Nelson predicts that the workforce will adapt to these younger workers rather than the other way around.

“I’m convinced that as the Millennials come to dominate the workplace in number (an estimated 48% of all workers will be from the Millennial generation by 2020 and 75% of all workers by 2025), so too will they come to dominate workplace attitudes and expectations,” Dr. Nelson noted in a recent email to subscribers.

While this may be disconcerting to some, Dr. Nelson said we should embrace this movement. He says Millennials can help affect changes that will benefit all workers, including:

  1. Putting an emphasis on meaningful work
  2. More recognition and respect for workers
  3. Autonomy and flexibility
  4. Opportunities to constantly learn and grow
  5. Incorporating fun into the workplace

It appears that a number of them will achieve these goals through contract staffing. Statistics show that 40-50% of the American workforce will be contingent by the year 2020. This marks a major shift from the traditional workforce model that has been comprised mostly of direct hires. According to the MBO Partners 2013 State of Independence Report, more than half of “independent workers”(contractors, freelancers, consultants, etc.) deliberately chose an independent work arrangement over traditional direct hire positions.  The reasons reflect the list above. For instance, 78% independent workers said they like making a difference with their work. Additionally, 45% chose independent work because their previous employers did not recognize their value.

Structured contract staffing arrangements are particularly popular. Contract staffing is when workers perform services for one company while being the legal employer of a third party, such as a recruiting/staffing firm or a contract staffing back-office. This meets a number of Millennial needs.  Due to its project-based nature, contract staffing offers a wider range of flexible scheduling options and the opportunity to continually learn and grow through a variety of projects.  Because they are working on projects and meeting critical deadlines, it is easy for them to see the impact of their work.

Unlike some independent work arrangements, workers in contract staffing arrangements can enjoy this flexibility, variety, and job satisfaction without sacrificing the perks of traditional employment. As the legal employees of a third party, they receive a regular paycheck, typically with direct deposit, and are often offered benefits, including health, dental, vision, and life insurance and 401(k).

As a recruiter, you may find placing Millennials to be challenging, but they are the future of the American workforce. To attract and retain the best Millennial candidates, you will want to be sure that you can offer a variety of enticing contract opportunities. And if you do not have the ability to offer benefits and other perks contractors may be seeking, you may also want to consider outsourcing the employment of your contractors to a back-office that can.

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