It’s impossible to deny that the broad landscape of the labor force across the country has undergone a notable transformation over the last few decades. By the middle of 2015, the number of Millennial employees (adults aged 18-34, specifically) working had already surpassed the number of both the Baby Boomer (adults aged 51 to 69) and Generation X employees (adults aged 35 to 50) present in the workforce. With this ambitious, strong-willed, and tech-savvy new generation at the helm, many lawmakers have already begun to explore the possibility of modernizing our nation’s labor laws.
Where we are now
A recent article in the New York Times, which sheds some light on the kind of reform that could make a positive difference, highlights the outdated origins of the National Labor Relations Act - “The National Relations Act was written in the 1930s, when big factories and large industrial companies dominated our economy; its provisions are a terrible fit for today’s economy”.
The job market of today has evolved into something almost unrecognizable from the circumstances that prompted the National Relations Act, which at its inception provided a platform from which large groups of employees could address their concerns and negotiate with their employers on a more even level. The prevalence of jobs at the time were large-scale operations, with a huge number of employees working at one location and for essentially one employer. Today, employment opportunities are very different. Jobs are a lot more specialized in general and also more widely spread - there is more employee independence, but now there is a much less reliable structure in place to protect the rights of those employees.
However, change may be in the air for millennial workers. At a state level, particularly in more progress positive areas like California or New York, there may already be an eye toward labor law reform that favors a more inclusive, modern version of unionization with a focus on multi-employer bargaining possibilities. Technology may be the tool needed to turn the tide, specifically the incredible reach of social media, which makes bringing large groups of people with a common cause together easier than ever before.
Adapting to the new generation of employees
In the meantime, it may be beneficial for more companies to try and meet the changing needs and expectations of the millennial employees on a smaller scale - sooner rather than later. Current projections reveal that as soon as 2020, Millennials will make up almost half of the workforce in the United States and their expectations differ significantly from some of the outdated ideas of work culture that are still influencing many companies today. What do millennial workers want or need from their job? The answer may come as a pleasant surprise. A few examples include:
● Flexible options for where and when they are expected to work
● A more even approach to providing employees with a better work/life balance
● Access to additional training and professional/career development opportunities
● Clearer paths to career progression
● A boss or manager who is dependable, transparent, fair and ethical
● To be treated with respect
It’s hard to argue against what seems to be a very reasonable set of expectations - don’t we all want at least a few of these examples at our own workplace?
Employees in California already have a leg up in the national workforce, with labor laws that often favor the rights of employees over employers. If you feel that your workplace is not providing you with the rights to which you are entitled, give us a call. We are always interested in protecting employees in need and upholding the standards of our generous state labor laws.