Millennials – aged 18-34 – recently surpassed Baby Boomers (aged 51-69) as the nation’s largest living generation, according to the Pew Research Center.
And this is a generational cohort that's supposedly seriously in love with technology and more than willing, reportedly, to let technology replace humans where boring and “repetitive” work is concerned – like driving trucks – so they can do other things, such as fiddle around with their smart phones, eat food, watch videos, etc.
[Could this be symptomatic of a very distracted generation? You be the judge.]
For example, take this recent survey compiled by software provider Conversica, which finds that more Americans are ready and willing to embrace artificial intelligence (AI), especially when it comes to making their professional lives easier and freeing them up to work on high-value tasks – and that goes doubly so for Millennials.
While the broad consensus among the 1,000 respondents to the company’s survey is that AI can be helpful in their work lives, the Millennial generation is much more enthusiastic about the prospect of getting access to “virtual helpers,” with 61% them saying they’d like help from a virtual assistant with some aspect of their job, as compared to 54% of Generation Y (35-44 years old), 53% of Generation X (45-54 years old), and 50% of Baby Boomers (55-64 years old).
“What we do see is a turning point in American perceptions around artificial intelligence and a growing understanding that AI can solve real business problems and help human workers be more productive and successful,” noted Alex Terry, Conversica’s CEO.
But is this really so?
Do humans – especially Millennials – really desire such a “technological takeover” in their lives?
More importantly where Millennials are concerned: are they more “traditional minded” than we think, for example desiring the freedom to operate their vehicles themselves like most of us “older folks” do?
Let’s go a step farther: are they also more “traditional-minded” in their broader work/life desires for things like home ownership, family, etc., than many believe? And could that actually help rucking in terms of its recruitment and retention efforts?
According to the 2017 Millennial Study recently released by the Bank of the West, Millennials imagine themselves untethered and without boundaries, yet their actions tell a very different story of stability.
If the bank’s survey of 1,010 Americans is accurate, like previous generations, Millennials want to achieve the classic “American Dream” of owning a home, paying off debt, and someday retiring from a fulfilling career.
"Millennials dream of living abroad, moving to a new city and switching careers, but in reality they are quite satisfied with stability," noted Paul Appleton, executive vice president of consumer payments and product at the Bank of the West.
"It's an interesting dichotomy that doesn't appear with Gen-Xers or [Baby] Boomers,” he added. “This generation [Millennials] is dreaming bigger and better, and while they are confident they'll fulfill their dreams, they need help figuring out how to fund them."
For example, more than six in 10 Millennials believe the American Dream is still alive today. In fact, they even agree with Gen Xers and Boomers, calling out being happy (70%), owning a home (60%), being debt-free (55%), and retiring comfortably (51%) as the top four ingredients of their American Dream.
Yet for this “youngest working generation,” Appleton said there is a “big difference” between the lives they say they want and the lives they actually lead.
When considering where to call home, the overwhelming majority of Millennials (85%) say it's important to have the flexibility to move when they want. Most Millennials (67%) even say they would like to live abroad at some point in their lives, with nearly a third of this group can see themselves building a life in another country for the long haul. However, this perspective is very different from how they're actually living, Bank of the West found in its poll.
On average, they only envision themselves packing up and moving to a new city, state or country fewer than two more times in their lives, and most (68%) even say they would prefer to build a life in one community, rather than live and work in multiple geographies.
This is evidenced by some Millennials' decision to buy their homes (43%), which is a purchase that can make relocation more challenging. At odds with their reputation for being the renting generation, for those Millennials who are not yet home owners, three in four say they could be motivated to buy a house.
The misalignment between Millennials' dreams and actions is evident in their career paths as well. Nearly half (48%) agree that they would need to switch employers every few years to be paid what they feel they're worth. In practice, however, most Millennials (65%) are happy working for their current company, while 79% say they wouldn't quit their current jobs to pursue another career and 62% would not move cross-country without a new job offer in hand.
Millennials are also focused on building a family, according to the bank’s survey, which makes uprooting their lives at a moment's notice more challenging – and when asked whether they'd prefer a fulfilling family life or a fulfilling professional life, more than three-quarters (78%) of Millennials would put their family life first. If given the choice between moving closer or farther away from their families, eight in 10 would move closer.
Do all of those attributes translate into more recruitment and retention opportunities for trucking? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?