Millennials are the largest workforce in US work history. The older generation accuses this age group of many things. Some say they do not work hard enough; others say they do not persevere long enough.
Millennials are whiny, and they think they’re special snowflakes. However, millennials are playing crucial roles in the modern workplace. Millennials are here to stay. Therefore, learning how to accommodate millennials is essential for any contemporary business. The question then becomes this: how can companies capitalize on the unique traits of this young employee group?
So, what are the things millennials want from an employer? Millennials hold certain expectations when it comes to the companies, workplace, and jobs they want to be a part of. Due to their unique upbringing and exposure to revolutionary technology, they are different from other age groups. Hence, companies should make sure that they understand the needs of millennial employees to ensure the best performance.
A complete guide to millennials can fill a hundred blog articles. To make things simpler, this article compiles the top 25 things that millennials want from their employers. Business executives who apply this knowledge will be able to leverage the unique talents brought by millennials to the workplace.
Millennials differ from older generations mainly due to their exposure to a technologically-driven world. Many of the activities people take for granted nowadays, such as real-time communication across continents, would have been considered miracles just a few decades ago. Millennials are the first generation to have been exposed to the Internet at a young age. Hence, the Internet has significantly shaped how millennials think and behave.
The Internet has democratized information, enabling people to gain access to ideas from across the world. Hence, millennials are one of the most informed generations, having received an education of sorts from the Internet. They value social and environmental concerns over money, and they use this as criteria when selecting companies.
Millennials are also more used to quick feedback than older generations, as they became accustomed to the speed of online networking. With literally millions of information bits to navigate, millennials are more adept at dealing with complexity and change. They crave a good challenge, and they are flexible enough to deal with multiple information channels simultaneously.
Unfortunately, a lot of companies fail to recognize the unique characteristics of millennials. Such misunderstandings can undermine the positive qualities that these young people bring to the workforce.
The US loses around $30.5 billion per year due to turnover of millennial employees. Corporations should be willing to embrace the uniqueness that this age group provides. Those that do so will be able to utilize them to their greatest extent, and these companies are poised to outperform the competition.
So, here are the top 25 expectations that millennial employees hold:
1. More emphasis on social impact
2. Environmental consciousness
3. A proactive stance on gender equality
5. Ethical work
6. Responsiveness to the changing world
7. Customized approach to human resources
8. Positive workplace culture
9. Opportunities for lifelong learning
10. Systematic and objective reward systems
11. Workplace flexibility
12. Access to multiple career tracks
13. Access to relevant technologies
14. Opportunities to work in teams
15. Good work-life balance
16. Office relationships based on respect
17. Coaching and mentorship opportunities
18. Opportunity to work on challenging and complex problems
19. Frequent and balanced feedback
20. Minimum ambiguity
21. More time to make decisions
22. Comprehensive information during planning
23. Attention to detail
24. Openness and free access to information
25. A deeper sense of meaning
A big paycheck is no longer enough to attract young workers these days. Millennials are more discriminating when it comes to choosing target companies. This phenomenon is not harmful. In reality, it merely reflects that these people are more socially aware citizens who care about causes greater than themselves. Such people tend to show drive and ambition, which are characteristics that any company would like their employees to possess.
Many millennials have causes that they would like to fight for. Whether it be poverty alleviation or lasting peace, young people nowadays associate themselves with social causes as part of their desire to leave a positive impact on the world. The popularity of frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals is driven partially by passionate millennials.
This social awareness extends to job hunting. Companies that only focus on profits have a hard time recruiting young talent. In contrast, young applicants embrace companies that publicly align themselves with worthy social causes.
More than ever, becoming genuinely involved in matters of social importance is crucial for companies. Their branding should reflect the advocacies they support, and they should sincerely believe in social change and inspire their employees to follow suit.
Due to human activity, the natural resources of the Earth are dwindling. Climate change is real and approaching fast. Millions of people, as well as a myriad number of animal and plant species, are at risk due to climate change.
Without proper action, the next generation will find themselves below the acceptable standard of living. Millennials realize this, and they will go to great lengths in order to protect the environment.
Applicants generally look for companies committed to reducing their ecological footprint on the planet. The young generation highly favors companies that operate sustainably, whether by using renewable energy or cutting back on their carbon emissions.
However, millennials are wary of greenwashing, which is the act of falsely branding a company as environmentally sustainable to gain attention. Corporations should let people know how much they care about nature, and they should be able to back their intentions with solid actions.
Our contemporary society has made a lot of gains with regards to gender equality, but the fight goes on. Women are still underrepresented in some industries such as technology and engineering.
Even for companies that have equal gender ratios, women may still earn less or get fewer promotions than men. Millennials recognize this problem, which is why they search for companies that strive towards gender equality.
Note that gender equality is more than just ensuring that male employees do not outnumber female employees. Instead, gender equality also means ensuring that people of any gender can access the same opportunities. This advocacy must be consistent in every aspect of the corporation, from recruitment and training to promotions.
Diversity also extends beyond genders. Minorities are still underrepresented in many companies nowadays. This phenomenon gives the impression that such companies are still inaccessible to many people around the world.
By empowering diversity, companies can make everyone feel truly welcome to apply. Diversity also brings benefits to the company, such as increased capacity for problem solving and creative thinking.
As with other causes, companies should make sure that they authentically promote diversity. Simple lip service is not enough, and millennials will actively avoid companies that deceive them through this method. Time will tell the true motives of any company. Hence, corporations should sincerely encourage diversity, especially through recruitment.
The average millennial has a conventional notion that many companies are only interested in profits. They think that many corporations are willing to tolerate moral ambiguity, sometimes outright evil, in order to improve the bottom line.
As much as possible, they will prefer to work for companies willing to do the right thing, even when doing it is difficult. Therefore, companies should strive to behave ethically, not only to cater to millennials but also because it is the right thing to do.
Whenever companies are involved in scandals, their public image among millennials might remain tarnished for years. Hence, corporations should also acknowledge their mistakes, ready to implement solutions to repair any damage. Young professionals will recognize the efforts of any company seeking to behave ethically, resulting in higher application rates and better job satisfaction.
Our world is changing at a vertiginous rate, mostly due to the exponential growth of technologies. Tools and methodologies that used to work years ago may now be obsolete. Even during a single year, multiple companies grow and die. Entire industries are erupting and collapsing, and no one can indeed predict what the future holds.
In these changing times, young workers are looking for a place where they can work stably, without overt fears of being replaced. They are looking for companies that can offer them job security, but this can only happen if companies are poised to adapt to change in the first place.
Being future-proof is more than just staying updated on trends. It requires concrete action on the part of the company to analyze and innovate. Sometimes, companies are required to change course and to follow new goals to survive. It takes real dedication to respond to the changing world, but millennials value companies that are strong enough to do so.
Everybody is different and unique from each other. Each person has different skill sets, as well as varying strengths and weaknesses. Hence, crafting only one human resource approach for everyone is a waste of talent and potential. Companies that strive to identify and customize their programs for each employee will stand out above the rest.
Millennials put a high value on individuality. They will highly appreciate companies that take the extra effort to get to know them and to accommodate their unique needs. Such an approach will make them feel more cared for by the company, increasing their job satisfaction and reducing turnover rates. They will also become more loyal to the company, on the premise that they will be compelled to give back to the company that does so much for them.
Aside from looking at the company profile, millennials also play close attention to the workplace that the company provides. The working environment influences job satisfaction and productivity. More than ever, companies should strive to foster workplaces conducive for work.
Times are changing. Millennials have preferences that may be drastically different from those of older age groups. Employers should be able to provide these needs if they want to attract young talent into their ranks.
There is a tendency among older people that the efforts of an individual typically determine success. Based on this line of thinking, people succeed or fail based on their action alone. Hence, many companies devoted few resources in building constructive work environments. Many of these corporations have harsh workplace cultures, including authoritarian bosses and a lack of support systems for employees.
Millennials are now more conscious of the importance of positive workplace culture, and they seek such environments when scouting for job opportunities. They are not afraid to assert their needs, as they recognize the role of the work environment in shaping performance. However, this behavior has led some older people to label them as “entitled snowflakes.”
Instead of pigeonholing millennials, companies must take this opportunity to assess the value of their workplace culture. Young employees expect a workplace culture that pushes them to perform at their best.
A good workplace culture encourages meritocracy, giving rewards based on effort and performance. Bosses must be respectable, inspirational, and understanding. Finally, there should be a support system in place that can support employees when they need it the most.
Many people from older generations tend to think that millennials are not serious about their work, or that they do not focus on the immediate task at hand. One factor that contributes to this thinking is that millennials seek opportunities to learn more.
For example, many young people are holding off working in the corporate world to pursue graduate studies. Others take a gap year to learn more at their terms. Some people may also focus on volunteer work before entering the workplace.
All of this has led many to call millennials lazy, but nothing can be farther from the truth. Millennials believe that learning new skills and gaining knowledge does not stop after graduation.
This mindset is beneficial for companies, as having employees that focus on learning ensures that they have a workforce that continuously improves. It is also a fun and challenging activity for employees. Usually, people who are devoted to lifelong learning end up happier than their counterparts.
Companies should have formal programs in place to ensure that employees have opportunities to learn. Perhaps employees could be offered online skill training, or companies might even sponsor them for graduate studies. Employees could also undergo in-house management programs where they get to learn the overall operations of the company. Opportunities such as these are enticing for young and ambitious professionals.
Meritocracy is a good reward system. By giving incentives based on performance, companies actively encourage employees to perform at their best. Sadly, many companies use other means to provide rewards instead, such as seniority or tenure.
Sometimes people receive rewards just because they are friends with high-ranking people. These reward systems can be very demotivating, especially for young employees who expect recognition for their hard work.
Companies nowadays need to have a formal system in check that objectively measures employee performance. Exceptional performance should merit equally valuable rewards. Aside from monetary compensation, employers could also consider other prizes, such as stock options or additional leaves. Finally, teams, as well as individuals, should also be well rewarded for their efforts.
The advent of modern communication technology enables more options for people to work. Smartphones and wireless internet now allow employees to work outside of the office. Schemes such as virtual offices and teleconferencing are common setups nowadays for many companies.
However, some companies still stick to the old ways by enforcing a 9-to-5 routine on their employees. They argue that traditional methods of working are superior. But each setup has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Companies who do not offer flexible workplaces risk losing access to pools of talented millennials who cannot work in traditional setups.
Human resource departments must come up with ways to promote workplace flexibility. They could offer flextime, allowing employees to choose when to go to the office as long as they fulfill a certain number of work hours every week.
Companies could also offer virtual offices, allowing people to work at coffee shops or even within the comfort of their own home. Giving these options will impress millennials, who will think that the company is taking the extra mile to satisfy its employees.
Read Also: 25 Workplace Flexibility Benefits
Another common accusation thrown at millennials is that they are unable to commit. Supervisors cite reports saying that millennials tend to switch companies only after a few years. However, such complaints arise as people expect employees to remain at a single company until retirement. With the rise in new industries and new companies, millennials should not be expected to limit themselves to a single company.
Instead, companies should give employees the option to switch career tracks without leaving the company. This arrangement allows people to try out new roles without having to part ways for another company. In addition, this allows young employees to try out different divisions so that they can be sure which roles suit them.
Technologies such as the Internet offer unparalleled access to information from across the globe. Unfortunately, many companies still restrict access to this valuable resource. Their rationale is valid.
They want to help employees avoid distractions and to instead focus on their work. However, many millennials are experts when it comes to using the Internet for productive work, so companies have to take this into account also.
Additionally, many companies do not take advantage of other technologies. For example, some corporations still use manual encoding when electronic forms could have sharply reduced the time consumed by business operations. Some companies are still wary of cloud storage, even when this makes business-related information more secure and more convenient to access.
Companies should invest in these technologies as they enable employees to do more with less time and resources consumed. Otherwise, they risk being viewed as obsolete by millennials.
Despite all the changes occurring in the professional world, some things never change. Teams remain as relevant as ever. However, some companies deny their constituents the opportunity to collaborate and to work effectively as teams.
Many millennials prefer to work in teams, so companies should invest in fostering good relations among its employees. Team building activities and other events that make people work together with others are good ways of building and maintaining highly efficient teams.
At the same time, companies should recognize that workers also sometimes prefer to work as individuals. For all their benefits, teamwork is not a panacea that can solve all the problems of an organization. Some employees perform worse when placed in situations such as open workspaces, as they tend to get distracted by colleagues. Companies should strike a balance between promoting teamwork and respecting the privacy of their workers.
Millennials are ambitious workers, but they also believe in life outside of work. They value balance, and this reflects in how they think about work-life balance. They treasure a company that encourages them to work hard and play hard. They love companies that can delineate between office time and time outside of work.
Unfortunately, many employers fall into the trap of disrespecting this boundary. Some bosses send emails after work hours and berate employees for not responding immediately. Some companies require their employees to be on call even during regular sleeping hours!
Employers should be able to provide opportunities for employees to have adequate work-life balance. Otherwise, employees will become stressed and inefficient at work. Ultimately, a work-life conflict will drive millennials away to look for greener pastures.
Many older superiors hold negative stereotypes on millennials, considering them lazy and entitled workers. These negative attitudes sometimes spill over during work. Many of them treat millennials harshly, and they justify their iron-fisted rule as necessary in order to make these young workers “grow up.”
A hardline leadership style only serves to alienate people. Companies should instead strive to foster office relationships based on mutual respect and trust. Any conflicts should be dealt with immediately. Millennials deserve respect, like any other employee.
Mentorship is one of the optimal ways to grow a career. By learning from established experts and leaders, people can gain new skills quickly and get insider access into the inner workings of a company. Having a mentor or coach allows employees to fast-track their career development. They get access to constant feedback as well as suggestions on how to improve as an employee.
Naturally, millennials crave coaching and mentorship opportunities, as these can satisfy their desire for lifelong learning. Thus, employers should highlight the mentoring potential that they can give to young workers when trying to recruit millennials.
Finally, millennials have certain expectations for their ideal jobs. While they recognize that not all opportunities will fit their criteria, they will undoubtedly enjoy work more and perform better if they get a position that adheres to their expectations. Companies should take some time to study these expectations if they want to hire millennials as employees.
Millennials have greater access to information, and the more ambitious ones tend to crave challenges that utilize their uncanny ability to process complex information. However, those that are beyond their capabilities might overwhelm them.
Companies would do well to keep millennial employees engaged. Adding complexity to their roles, as well as providing them sufficient access to resources they need to do their job, will motivate them to perform at their best.
Despite popular opinion, millennials are highly responsive to feedback. However emotionally-laden feedback is harmful, as this may cause them to disengage with their work. Companies would do well to provide feedback that focuses on constructive criticism. By letting millennial employees know precisely how they can improve, they should be able to become better employees in record time.
One of the things that millennials hate the most is ambiguity. Unclear instructions force them to waste time thinking about the next steps forwards. They could have better utilized this time towards crafting solutions and solving problems.
Companies should create jobs that minimize ambiguity to reduce confusion. Work roles, requirements, and performance criteria should all be clearly stated and communicated.
While millennials crave complexity, a drawback is that they need more time to process the information available to them. As they dislike ambiguity, they are willing to spend the time to flesh out all available options and pick the most viable ones. It won’t hurt to have a set of fresh perspectives in the decision-making area.
Unfortunately, many superiors force them to make quick decisions, sacrificing quality in the process. Their jobs should allow them ample time for decision making to reduce stress and avoid the consequences of bad choices.
Of course, all the time in the world will be useless to millennial employees if they have insufficient information from the start. Employers should create jobs that allow workers quick access to all the information they need. Information access is especially important during the planning phase, as work here sets the direction of future actions.
Many millennials pay great attention to detail, adding to their value within organizations. Hence, they benefit from having jobs that take advantage of their attention to detail. Menial jobs are likely to make young workers bored and disengaged from their work. Allow diversity in their workload so they can keep their wheels turning.
At the same time, employers should devote the same meticulousness, as young employees will quickly notice any mistakes. By doing so, you’ll create a positive role model for them.
As mentioned before, millennials require convenient access to information to function well. Additionally, they place high regard on openness. They respect organizations who are frank and honest with them.
This perspective should also be apparent in the job itself. Work roles that restrict information access will only frustrate young workers. Instead of being able to work flawlessly, hunting down for certain information may hinder the productivity of the millennials.
One of the most admirable aspects of millennials is the value they place on meaningfulness. They are not content with just living life to the fullest by earning as much as they can. The young generation wishes to leave a positive impact on the world. Sometimes, this leads them to let go of lucrative jobs in pursuit of another, where they feel that they are fulfilling their purpose in life.
Companies should give jobs that leave a lasting positive impact on stakeholders outside of work. Corporations should also embrace corporate sustainability responsibility, a business model that encourages organizations to operate with regards to future generations.
Giving jobs related to sustainability practices can greatly motivate young employees. These affirm that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves — such lines of thinking lead to job satisfaction and organizational loyalty.
Millennials are less mature than other age groups precisely because they are younger than others. Their sense of entitlement, as well as many other accusations hurled at them, are just because they still have a lot to pick up from the world.
Instead of branding them as entitled, companies should focus instead on constructing work environments that highlight the high desire for ambition and technological prowess possessed by millennials.
Read Also: What You Need to Know About Millennials
Millennials desire communications technologies that help them contact coworkers and superiors. Project management software is also crucial for handling complex and challenging projects.
Finally, millennials like education technologies that allow them to learn new skills and gain knowledge that can improve their career prospects.
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