What’s a Millennial?
At the time of this writing, millennials are simply people who are younger than 35.
The age listed above is based on the generally agreed upon range of 1982 through 2004 as the birth years that grant people their official millennial status. Some experts place the starting year as early as 1981, and cutoff year as early as 2001.
No one hates generational generalizations more than we do, but for the sake of brevity and clarity—and in our best efforts to make this a reader-friendly article, we decided to acquiesce and use the label.
Are Millennials Really That Different?
No. Millennials are people who need food, love and a means to support themselves just like everyone else.
On the other hand, what millennials want from their employers is very different than previous generations.
For example, most Baby Boomers and Gen Xers looked for a company they could work for through retirement. This is not a typical concern for millennials.
New values emerged as older millennials saw their parents’ loyalty to their companies get left unreciprocated. They also observed how quickly top employers could close their doors overnight during a national financial crisis.
Other factors, which are not the topic of this article, also helped shape the worldview of today’s youngest workers. Our goal is to share with you what most millennials are looking for in a company NOW as they shop prospective employers.
3 Things Millennials Are Looking for in a Company
1. The Ability to Make an Impact
If your organization is not ready for the occasional mini-revolution that could lead to more efficient ways of doing things—or an improved workplace for all—you will have difficulty attracting and retaining millennials as long as there are still plenty of jobs on the market.
Millennials want to make an impact on your organization.
Consider any dated, cumbersome processes you have in place, and then plan to add a couple of millennials to the task force. This will keep your young employees engaged, and give them the opportunity to leave their mark.
Since millennials are usually more familiar with the latest technology, the new processes they suggest you implement are likely to still be relevant a few years down the road.Millennials want to make an impact on your organization Click To Tweet
2. Good Company Culture
Every applicant under 25 that I’ve interviewed so far has asked me about the corporate culture at least once in the conversation. There are plenty of statistics to support how important your company culture is to millennials. What makes a good company culture?
The good news is that their desires are neither unreasonable, nor expensive. Based on the accumulation of several surveys, millennials want opportunities to have a positive impact on the workplace, and if possible—the world.
They would like leadership to serve as coaches or mentors, as opposed to the salute-and-execute style of leadership their parents and grandparents endured. They favor collaboration over competition, and really enjoy flexible work schedules.
Finally, most millennials prefer corporate transparency, and plenty of feedback on their performance.
3. Plenty of Feedback
As you have already learned, millennials want to have a positive impact on the workplace. The best way to let an employee know they made an impact is to tell them.
Most millennials grew up getting more feedback from parents and teachers than the generations before them. Some seasoned employers believe this need for feedback is excessive. Nevertheless, cutting off this lifeline cold turkey is going to hurt the employer too—in the long run.
Feedback is the fuel that will keep your younger staff engaged. It provides the internal rewards and energy they need to keep innovating. It gives them the guidance they need, and the assurance they are moving in the right direction according to company initiatives.
The more feedback leaders provide, the fewer assumptions employees will make about their own performance, their relationships with their leaders, and their future with the organization. And fewer assumptions is a good thing!
Besides, if we Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are honest with ourselves, most of us really wanted feedback when we were new in the workforce just as often as millennials do. The difference is, we didn’t receive it. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have been helpful!
Too Strapped for Feedback?
Too help employers better navigate through the heavier workload and increased expectations of contemporary work life, some software companies have developed apps to maintain a bidirectional flow of feedback between leadership and their teams.
Happster by Aventr is grounded in the science of positive psychology, and is designed to improve transparency, increase employee engagement, and address the aspects of company culture that concern millennials the most.
While face to face feedback is best, an app such as Happster may help busy leaders meet the needs of their employees while more traditional methods of communication aren’t currently feasible.
A Word about Initiative
Some employers complain that millennials do not take enough initiative. Consider that many parents and teachers have been telling this generation from day one to STOP and wait for instructions, often rewarding them for their compliance. It may take some time and effort to help millennials “unlearn” the idea that they’re not allowed to make decisions on their own.
Yet this can be done. And it will pay off.
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