Project Description

International relocation is fast becoming a rite of passage amongst high-flying Millennnials (also known as Gen Y; defined as born between 1980-1995), for whom cross-cultural experience and career development are priorities. Nobody understands this better than the Big Four accountancy firms…

Deloitte estimate that 59% of Millennials hope to become leaders in their profession. Organisations that recognise this know they need to understand what motivates such employees if they want to retain and grow them into leadership roles. Employers who make the mistake of treating Millennials like previous generations risk losing them to competitors.

So how does this tie in to global mobility?

As a general rule, Millennials are keen to be mobile. They grew up travelling abroad (family holidays with their parents) and enjoy a far greater degree of international exposure than previous generations. As a result, most don’t see an overseas assignment as a ‘big deal’.

They’re also far better informed about what it is like to live and work abroad than any preceding generation; and all the information they need is readily accessible through modern technology.

PwC predicts that by 2016, 80% of its workforce will be Millennials. And, in the workplace, the firm believes that such employees value greater flexibility, appreciation, team collaboration… and global opportunities.

More professionals than ever want to explore overseas positions (37% of Millennials vs 28% of non-Millennials… a whopping 32% increase across the generations!).

According to global relocation provider Brookfield, Millennials ‘get’ the concept of long-term benefit (career development through skills and experience acquired abroad) rather than having a focus on immediate reward.

This is a change from the early days of international postings when pay was the key incentive (financial rewards were needed, for example, to persuade people to move when organisations were first setting up overseas operations in far-flung, undeveloped parts of the world).

That said, their relatively sheltered upbringing means Millennials expect (and need) more support than employers might be used to giving. They often don’t see the need to accept the same level of personal responsibility as previous generations for the logistics involved in moving location: they only want to know now what they need to know today, tomorrow can wait.

And whilst the best of the generation will show a great degree of initiative in making things happen and ‘do things their way’, most Millennials will be used to (and expect) immediate responses to their requests for help.

Recent studies show that factors that drive company loyalty include the manageability of Millennials’ workload in the context of having a work/life balance, participating in engaging work that is both interesting and meaningful, having mentors and enjoying friendship within the office environment, and being compensated fairly.

So what is the impact of all this on employers and what they need to do?

  • When hiring for overseas assignments, organisations need to understand that Millennials value the long-term benefits over short-term financial gain, and structure the entire experience accordingly
  • Technology means they are used to accessing information at their fingertips so Millennials expect a high degree of responsiveness to requests
  • Millennials who are interested in an international assignment will not wait to be asked; they will instigate a search of opportunities themselves using readily-available sources. Employers have to up their game and genuinely open the door to global career development
  • Millennials may no longer accept the ‘one size fits all’ approach. For example, instead of reimbursing individual aspects of a relocation package, as in the past, they are more likely to appreciate the flexibility of being given an equivalent lump sum to spend appropriately themselves

To conclude our article, employers who offer Millennials meaningfully structured career development opportunities, together with the necessary support and guidance, will position themselves as innovative and ultimately triumph in the fight for the best talent. Employers who don’t will lose out.

Article Sources: Deloitte’s 2015 Millennials Survey, PwC NextGen: A Global Generational Study: Millennials, KPMG’s Global Mobility Forum 2014, Millennials and Their Impact on International Mobility (Brookfield)


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