Millennials currently account for more than a third of all American workforce participants. They are the largest generation in the US labor force. It is critical that employers strive to make their workplaces conducive to these early to mid-level career professionals. This generation will continue to consume much of the job market in the coming years.
Who Are Millennials?
A millennial is defined as anyone born between 1981 and 1996. A significant portion of this generation has been in the professional world for several years, even though many people still associate the term “millennials” with young adults fresh out of college. In fact, the oldest members of this group entered the labor force in the late 1990s.
This group is large and highly diverse. It is important that employers avoid making assumptions about candidates and employees based only on their age. However, there are a few common traits, behaviors, and personal preferences among millennial professionals, primarily due to technology and education developments over the past few decades.
According to Indeed, one of the largest recruiting services in the US, here are three things to keep in mind when working with millennials:
- Millennials Are Comfortable With New Technology. Many millennials grew up with personal computers and internet access in their homes, schools and have experienced a rapid technology evolution during their formative years. Because of this, millennials are naturally at ease around new tech and often find it easier to adapt to new programs and equipment than previous generations.
- Millennials Are Used To Collaboration. When millennials were in school, teamwork and group projects became the norm. While every individual is different, and some people prefer independent work to team settings, millennials are experienced in collaborating and cooperating to achieve a shared goal.
- They Desire A Sense Of Purpose. While this is true of people from all generations, millennials are particularly interested in working for companies with a well-defined mission and set of values. Additionally, because millennials grew up with the internet and were exposed to many global issues from a young age, they’re especially interested in making a positive social impact through their work.
What Millennials Want From Their Employers
Like all employees, millennial professionals want to work in positions where they can apply their talents, skills and be fairly compensated for their efforts. But this generation also seeks a few additional perks and benefits from employers.
- Flexibility Millennials are driving a movement for more flexible work environments to achieve a healthier work-life balance. Top-rated employers are responding to these demands by offering remote work opportunities and ending strict work hours.
- Career Development Like generations before them, millennial workers are interested in career advancement, and they expect their employers to help them acquire the skills and experience necessary to move upward. Some of the workplaces ranked highest by millennials offer leadership training, mentorship, and on-site education programs.
- Healthcare Millennial job seekers are interested in working for companies that value their health and wellbeing by offering high-quality health insurance coverage and company-sponsored diet and fitness programs. And because many millennials are parents or will become parents within the next decade or two, benefits like paid parental leave, adoption assistance, and help with childcare costs are also important.
- Student Loan Assistance Most millennials took out student loans, and the average college graduate leaves school with over $30,000 in debt; it’s no surprise millennials prefer employers with tuition reimbursement programs. Even a small monthly contribution from employers can help free employees from debt faster.
- Opportunities To Give Back Recent studies show millennials’ trust in companies to behave ethically has dropped, and they are more interested in working for employers committed to making a positive impact. This can be in the form of volunteer time off (VTO), matched donation drives, or offering products and services at no cost to charitable organizations.
Retaining top millennial talent and increasing employee engagement will likely mean changing your management strategies and company culture. The Indeed report suggests the following.
- Focus On Output Instead of monitoring the number of hours someone spent in the office, focus on employees’ output and project outcomes. Millennials are more likely to prefer working remotely or during non-traditional hours rather than working on a fixed schedule. If allowing employees to set their own schedules or telecommute increases their productivity, it may be worthwhile to adopt more flexible policies.
- Embrace More Autonomy A significant percentage of entrepreneurs are millennials, and many are launching their first businesses at a younger age than baby boomers and gen-Xers. As a manager, you can nurture employees’ innovative, entrepreneurial tendencies by avoiding micromanaging and offering more opportunities for independent work.
- Provide Educational Opportunities Offering skill-building and career development programs help employees become more engaged. When they are more involved with their own development, they are less likely to look for new job opportunities. Investing time and effort in helping millennial employees advance through training and mentoring will foster greater loyalty.
As the youngest members of the generation enter the job market, Millennials will become an even more significant portion of the labor force. Taking time to understand their desires, expectations, and habits, businesses can make sure their workplace reflects these trends and is positioned to attract top millennial talent.