What are Millennials Really Worth?

Money makes the world go round and, according to economists, Millennials are the target market to hit.

By Chris J Reed, Founder and CEO, Black Marketing


As the population ages, this group will have more spending power and will be replacing the work force as the Baby Boomers retire.


But just how much are we talking about here? As a business owner, this is a point of interest to me because I have an office with several Millennial employees, and I have Millennial clients (yes, they care about personal branding and being thought leaders, too).


There is, of course, no one exact global cost or figure for talent. As with everything, there are several factors that come into play, such as education, skillset, cost of living, geography and more. To get fully into it would require an entire tome, not just a blog, so here are some interesting key facts based on a recent study done on students within two major areas — Business and Engineering — in 33 countries, by Universum.


Saudi Millennials have the Highest Salary Expectations


They managed to beat the Swiss, who topped the list last year (2014) at $84,466. This year, students from Saudi Arabia are expecting an average of $83,100 per annum. While it’s a smaller figure, it’s still the highest when compared to the UAE ($81,900) and the Swiss ($82,600).


But what is interesting is that even the highest expected salary in this region is less than half the above figures, with the top three countries displaying the following averages:


#1 Japan: $39,500/year

#2 Singapore: $26,200/year

#3 Hong Kong: $24,400/year


This explains why several MNCs have regional or global HQs based in in APAC, particularly in Singapore, where the infrastructure is sound and business can be conducted with relative ease. Its diverse culture and predominantly English-speaking talent pool also makes it particularly attractive for American and UK companies.


Brain Drain vs Brain Gain


However, the disparity in wages has led to what is known as the “Brain Drain and Brain Gain” syndrome. As the name suggests, countries with low salary expectations may see a brain drain, where talent leaves in search of better (paying) employment. The reverse also holds true: countries with more attractive salary packages and lifestyles will naturally see an influx of talent to their shores.


As Millennials are also known for their wanderlust, and with modern-day technology making travel and relocation even more convenient than before, you can find a job, book a ticket and a place to live all online before making the big move — the migratory patterns are not surprising. Sites like Jobbatical and even Airbnb make finding work and accommodation overseas literally just a few clicks away.


The Gender Gap


Despite all modern-day progress, there are still factors that have not changed much and are universal problems, regardless of geographical location. The most glaring and common of this is the wage gap between genders: women in general are still receiving only 77 percent on average of what their male counterparts make.


So as a society, while we’ve managed to send various lifeforms into space, gender inequality is still one of the largest problems at the workplace here on Earth. But before we hear the usual hue and cry of how “it’s a man’s world,” it should be noted that women receive lower salaries in almost every occupation.


While companies can ensure that policies are in place to safeguard and prevent such disparity in wages based on gender, women play a large part in taking charge, too. One of the main reasons cited as the cause of this wage disparity is the lack of negotiation. Women need to equip themselves with better negotiation skills and strategies so that, come promotion time, they are not afraid to ask for that promotion followed by equal pay to their male counterparts.


Talent Retention


One of the biggest challenges faced by business owners, especially those within start-ups, is talent retention. There is nothing more frustrating than putting in the hours to train someone, only to have to replace them and hope the next one has better staying power. It’s clear that Millennials are a different breed from the generations before them, and require different handling as a talent pool.


So how would you go about retaining Millennial talent? My advice is to first throw out any preconceived notions of what they’re like, especially the negative ones. Instead, approach these negative traits from their perspective and within the current environment. Take, for example, the following three key points:


Millennials are lazy: They’re not; they just prefer to work smart, not hard, which means they may have ideas on how to work more effectively and efficiently. Tap into these ideas.


Millennials are materialistic: Everyone works for pay and rewards, not just passion. This is true even of the generations before them. Ensure that you have a fair and solid rewards programme in place.


Millennials are disloyal: Apparently, they get bored easily and are always on the lookout for the next best thing. But marketing studies have shown time and again that Millennials are able to stick to one label or brand that they believe in. They often respond to authenticity, Apple being the prime example here. So if they can do that with a product, then why not your company? Ask yourself, why not your brand?


I recently held a Vision Meeting with my team, where I outlined what I planned for the business and where I would like to lead it. The feedback I received was interesting, to say the least in a positive way. More than anything else, they looked at how we could enhance their intellectual well-being — not with more money, but being able to come with me on my trips to our offices around the world, for example, being able to attend British Chamber events, being able to work at one of our global offices and being able to experience different cultures and different clients in different countries. Imagine a Baby Boomer or Gen X asking for this.


As I said at the beginning, there’s no one global cost for talent. But take note: investing in Millennials is inevitable as a business owner, be it is as an employer or service and product provider. They’re the upcoming future majority that’s going to be around for the next few decades, and they are worth a lot — $1.4 trillion, to be exact, according to US marketers. But that’s another story for another day.