Anywhere, apparently, but here.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 80 percent of Millennials want — expect, actually — to work abroad during their careers. It's not clear if that figure is unique to a generation known for a grass-is-greener approach to life or a reflection of the itinerant ways of young adults throughout the history of mankind. But this much is certain: technology paired with more flexible company cultures means Millennials (there are 40 million of them and counting, according to TIME) are far more likely to get their wish than their Gen X or Baby Boomer predecessors.
“International experience is an essential requirement for future leaders and as such should be cultivated from the very beginning of a graduate’s career,” according to the PwC report, which surveyed some 4,300 graduates around the world about their career expectations.
So does this mean waves of Millennials are on the verge of buying a one-way ticket to Shanghai? Hardly. There are ways hiring managers can feed (or even fulfill) those nomadic urges — and still hold onto their 20-something talent.
Accomodate Flexible Hours
The 9-to-5 schedule is headed for obsolescence. In the age of mobility, employees increasingly are working when they want and where they want. This newfound freedom requires some company parameters (e.g., workers must notify HR when working remotely and email teams when they're out of the office at specific hours during the day), but blurring the line between work and life goes a long way toward satisfying Millennials' peripatetic instincts. It also gives them the confidence to make the jump to work abroad one day, either with their current company (in a physical or virtual office) or someplace else.
Eliminate - Or Shrink - Hierarchies
Companies that embrace "open" offices, where summer interns sit next to the CEO, or shy away from titles tend to create cultures where morale is high and Millennials feel comfortable interacting with older generations. These "flat" structures, as they're called, encourage employees to ask for what they want, including living and working abroad.
Invest in Technology
PwC reports that Millennials routinely make use of their own technology at work and three-quarters believe that access to technology makes them more effective at work. However, technology is often a catalyst for intergenerational conflict in the workplace and many Millennials also express feeling held back by rigid rules around technology. Invest in collaborative programs that will help bridge this gap. It's important to emphasize that technology isn't a shortcut, but an aid for teamwork in an era when people are constantly on the go — or, in the case of Millennials, looking abroad.
None of these measures is easy to implement, said Lauren Rikleen, head of the workplace consultancy Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership, in Forbes. "The difficulty is that these take time and effort on the part of the employer to implement successfully. But there is no doubt that the end results of such efforts are a more engaged workforce."
The best place for any company to at least start the conversation about working abroad — and even, perhaps, satisfy the craving without a single bag getting packed — is at home.