Google “Millennial jokes” and you’ll get a compilation of tweets and memes almost entirely centered on how Millennials can’t afford to buy, well, much of anything. But let’s be realistic, it’s likely not a love for avocado toast that’s left Millennials without a sizeable nest egg. Unlike their Baby Boomer and Gen X colleagues, Millennials came of age during the Great Recession and a period of prolonged stagnant wage growth in the United States. Millenials who attended college still likely owe $22,000 in student loan debt. In light of their less-than-stellar economic experiences, perhaps it comes as no surprise that money is not the most important factor for Millennials when it comes to work. There are, however, three major things Millennials tend to hold in higher regard than income when it comes to their careers.
According to Fortune, Millennials want to “invest time acquiring the skills and knowledge they need to grow both personally and professionally”. This means no longer completing requiring required eLearnings once a year, or only receiving training when they start a new role. Training is becoming a “rich learning experience that taps into employee interests, passions and career goals”. As we know, employees want to bring their whole selves to work, and that includes expanding personal interests in addition to professional skills.
As Deloitte found, this isn’t a need only Millennials are aware of. 75% of respondents in their 2014 Millennial Survey believed that their organizations could do more to develop future leaders. Managers and organizational leadership are aware they can do better, and it is well documented that this investment in employee development pays dividends.
You know where we’re going with this one. Millennials want to work when and where they choose. But let’s back up and think about this in a larger context. As Forbes explains, “Banking, renting movies, hanging out with friends, going to school, ordering dinner have all transformed from a ‘place you go’ to a ‘thing you do’ from any connected device. Millennials view work in the same way; not to be measured by hours at a location, but by the output of what you do.” For this reason, it’s important not to attribute the desire to work on distributed teams or to have work-from-home days as a quirk of Millennials. This phenomenon of changing the way you make decisions and “do things” extends to all generations in the workplace.
So, how do you make sure your employees feel they have this flexibility at work? For starters, in jobs that can accommodate it, allow team members to set their own schedules as long as their work gets done. This may mean saying goodbye to 9-5 shifts, loosening up the vacation policy, or simply offering a certain number of work-from-home days each week or month. Be open with your employees and talk about what they’re looking for when it comes to their schedules, and they will appreciate the independence.
This one isn’t third because it’s the least important of three, but rather because it’s the one I most want you to take away from this article. In fact, the first two really don’t work without putting trust in your workers.
What Millennials really want more than anything, especially from their direct leader, is knowing that their leader believes they are doing their jobs, doing them well, and wants them to succeed. That means granting a certain level of autonomy, especially to top performers. “Empower millennials by offering co-leadership opportunities. Give young talent a chance to manage, develop a new project that excites them, and is of strategic importance,” suggests Fast Company. Additionally, don’t fall victim to the common misconception that remote workers don’t work just as effectively, if not more so, than their office counterparts. After all, employees who work remotely over 60% of the time are more likely than employees who work remotely less than 60% of the time to make more progress in their workday.
Millennials will account for 75% of the workforce in 2025, Fast Company reports. The same old financial incentives that companies have relied on for decades often fail to retain Millennial talent, and more organizations are realizing that it’s time to take a different approach to motivating and engaging young employees. It’s time to forget the misconceptions and recognize that by accounting for development, flexibility, and trust in the workplace, the majority of your workforce will be more productive, more engaged, and simply more successful.
To learn more about how Structural can assist in these initiatives, request a demo.