JP Morgan's Pencils Down initiative is proof the City's financial institutions can adapt to millennials' needs

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The kids are alright - but institutions must adapt (Source: Getty)

Millennials, Generation Y, the yoof - call them what you like, but HR departments the land over are going to increasingly desperate lengths to attract the people currently taking their first steps into working life.

Kids these days are demanding, high-minded and tech savvy, oft-cited research tells us. They expect oodles of spare time, with flexible working high in their priorities, probably so they can run their organic, clean-eating pop-up alongside their day job. They have high expectations of business culture, with on-the-job training and unlimited holiday time at the top of their workplace wishlists (thanks for that, Richard Branson).

The figures show us millennials drink less and look after themselves more than previous generations - unless, of course, they’re having a blowout at the Burning Man festival - and expect better opportunities at work. So much for hazing the office junior: the traditional 9-5, work-your-way-up approach doesn’t excite them. They’re also serial job-changers, flitting to a new post every two years.

Read more: The pros and cons of younger managers - millennials lack experience

Now the demands of this stereotype are seeping into City life. We reported yesterday that JP Morgan has done the unthinkable and banned its workers from coming into the office at the weekend, in an effort to align itself with the expectations of its youngest recruits (unless, of course, they’re working on a live deal - in which case it’s business as usual).

The “Pencils Down” initiative was unveiled in tandem with new schemes allowing juniors to connect more with their senior counterparts, be promoted faster and even work from home. It was launched because, JP Morgan global banking chief Carlos Hernandez told the Wall Street Journal, it is “realistic to what this generation wants”.

That is a phrase many of the City’s venerable institutions are going to have to get used to. Millennials - defined as those born after 1980 and before 2004 - will make up 40 per cent of the workforce by 2020.

Of course, what the figures don’t tell us is that Millennials are probably as attracted as their predecessors to the big-name institutions. But if the finance sector’s old boys wish to attract the best and brightest, it’s going to require a shakeup of everything from pay to hierarchy.

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