Millennials are the fastest growing segment of the workforce, slated to comprise 75 percent of the labor force by 2025. Already they have made their mark on traditional workplaces by wanting more flexibility, mobility and training that has been previously available to past generations. With older generations retiring or heading towards retirement, millennials are becoming the dominant drivers of workplace conditions.
What traits are predominant in millennial workers? First, they are seeking a bigger purpose when it comes to working. A good paycheck and benefits may be necessities, but millennials need to find a bigger purpose for the work they do.
Growing up with technology and rapid changes in their schools and workplaces, millennials are natural innovators and prefer to learn new skills and ideas. They are also highly educated and are comfortable with the idea of lifelong learning and the application of new skills on a regular basis.
You may think millennials prefer to work with technology, yet many are eager to work with others in collaborative, open environments. They are motivated by:
- Human contact
- Continuous, two-way feedback from managers vs. annual evaluations
- Ongoing training and development
- Workplace flexibility
Traditional benefits may not inspire millennials to stay on the job. Even with new-style benefits such as pet insurance and smoothie bars, millennials will stay at one job for about two years. With recruiting and retention costs rocketing skyward, how can companies find the keys to unlock millennial talents? Here are a few ideas:
- Tie your company’s vision and mission to the millennial sense of a higher purpose and how the work they do can benefit the world.
- Use social media to tell your company’s story. Sixty-two percent of millennials visit company social media sites to learn more about the company values. Post relevant information about your employees and community activities.
- Immerse them in your company’s culture on-site. Introduce them to people of different ages and target the visit to coincide with their interests.
- Provide the latest technology and training.
- Give honest and constant feedback about how they’re doing. Use technology or game-style apps to learn key competencies and rewards for successful completion.
- Forget about the terms “boss” and “subordinates.” Millennials want to be mentored, not supervised and prefer flexibility and project completion workstyles vs. micromanagement. Let them decide how to complete a project by a set deadline.
- Millennials value results rather than seniority, so create new paths to advancement that take into account the value of the work they do rather than the time they have been on the job.
- High turnover rates may be a millennial fact of life, but it doesn’t have to happen to every company. Consider ways to empower your millennial employees and how career tracks can work over the course of life changes.
One way to unlock the potential of millennials is to know what they want from a job. In today’s workforce, millennials are often viewed as lazy, spoiled, and not loyal. A millennial may see the current workplace as inflexible, hierarchical and not invested in making the world a better place. What do millennials want in their careers?
- Employer benefits that match their values. Some benefits include college loan reimbursement programs, pet insurance, college savings plan, and ongoing professional development and training
- Company loyalty that aligns with their values, personal development, and benefits
- Retirement investment options
- Flexible schedules that prioritize family
- Company values that promote social impacts, such as volunteer time off, diversity and health and wellness options
To put it simply, millennials want:
- Purpose over paychecks
- Skill development
- A mentor or coach on-the-job
- Regular feedback
- Work-life cohesion
There’s no doubt the millennial generation will change the way work is accomplished over the next few decades. The best way to unlock their potential is to supply them with what most workers want in a job, no matter what generation they belong to: growth opportunities, great mentor/managers, and jobs that are in line with their talents, interests, and passions. Millennials will be the pivotal force in changing how, where and when work will be done in the future.