The millennial generation, also known as Gen Y, refers to anyone born in the early 1980s–2000s; therefore aged 18-35 years. In addition to this age bracket representing a unique period in someone’s life, in today’s technological context, members of Gen Y are also experiencing environmental and circumstantial factors that differ greatly from those experienced by ‘young people’ in years gone by.

What does this mean if you’re relocating an employee that is a millennial?

As a generalisation, millennials prefer flexibility, independence and autonomy. The proliferation of social media, abundance of cheap travel and ‘life is short’ attitude has created a society unlike any that has come before. Gen Y perceives that the world is their oyster, and care more than ever about striking a work/life balance. Millennials are more open to change than their older counterparts. Career and international mobility is becoming more available, and they are more likely to seek opportunities to work away from their home base. Given their stage of life, they often don’t have children to consider, thus making them more mobile.

Treating millennials differently

Relocating career-hungry millennials is an attractive proposition for companies wishing to mould young talent early in their career at a time when they are mobile, and relatively cheap to relocate.

However, there are a few ways millennials should be treated differently:

How to communicate

Standard corporate guides, policies and manuals are less digestible to millennials, who possess a shorter attention span than people of older generations. This is the way the world is moving generally on account of the digital age – think online links, bite sized pieces of information delivered at the relevant juncture, short and more digestible cheat sheets, and so on.

Furthermore, Gen Y’s shorter tenure within each company they work for means that they are less aware of each company’s corporate processes and protocols. As such, they might not comprehend what is available to be done for them, and what should be done for them – such as helping them to find somewhere to live and assisting them to move their belongings. However, they will likely be more self-sufficient, resourceful, and able to use their initiative on account of constantly having information at their fingertips.

Things to consider

Millennials will be focusing on building their financial foundations; they will be intent on career development and aligning with companies that follow through on promises to deliver progression and appropriate rewards. According to a 2012 PayScale report, the median tenure for a millennial employee is just two years, compared to seven years for a baby boomer. Millennials aren’t averse to transience, which means that you risk your relocation investment if you aren’t able to follow through on development opportunities, as they will move on.

Members of Gen Y are less likely to have a family, but may well have a spouse who has strong or equal career aspirations to consider. Spousal support is acutely important in any relocation, for millennials perhaps more so.

What to offer

Naivety may be prevalent amongst some in this age group who are still ‘working out’ life and finances. Therefore offering financial support and career advice or coaching is a wise investment in the longer term when considering the impact that relocation will have on the personal and business life of your employee.

If your company offers a lump sum allowance, it would be wise to accompany the funds with advice and guidelines on how to allocate the funds to ensure it is spent most efficiently. Another consideration is to provide a separate account for the lump sum so that it doesn’t get lost in amongst personal funds and treated as a financial windfall rather than for used to relocate.