Millennials also known as Generation Y– those born between 1980 and 2000 – are becoming the predominant force entering the workplace. They are expected to comprise 50% of the global workforce by 2020 and 75% by 2025. In the oil & gas industry, where this shift is known as “the Great Crew Change,” the implications are magnified by a dearth of mid-level professionals created by a downturn-related hiring freeze in the 1980s. Approximately 71% of the energy workforce is 50 or more years old, and the American Petroleum Institute estimates that as many as 50% of skilled energy workers may retire over the next five to seven years. As many of the positions vacated by the retiring generation will be filled by less-experienced, younger workers, successfully managing, developing, and transferring skills to millennials has become a business imperative. With the media inundated with reports about the supposed monumental differences between millennial employees and previous generations, employers are often left to sort fact from fiction in designing effective integration plans for this new cohort.
Fortunately for companies, most substantive surveys and empirical studies find that many of the negative allegations about Generation Y are myths (e.g. a preference for job hopping) and that millennials’ preferences are not all that different from previous generations at similar points in their careers. It is also of limited value to make overly broad generalizations about millions of workers within a 20-year age range. Still, as the largest generation in history and one that will soon comprise a majority of the workforce, companies will be wise to develop a deeper understanding of the emerging millennial workforce. The following summary surveys the findings of consulting firms, corporate executives, survey data, and academics to reveal insights on Generation Y and offers considerations and recommendation that should aid in better engaging employees of all ages.