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Millennials in the Workplace

The millennial workforce is the largest generation in the US labor force, currently accounting for more than a third of all American employees. Because this generation continues to consume much of the job market, it’s crucial that employers strive to make their workplaces more conducive to these early to mid-level career professionals.

This article includes useful information about who the millennial workforce is, what they want from their employers and a few tips for managing them.

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Who are millennials?

Millennial were born between 1981 and 1996, according to Pew Research. While many people still associate the term “millennials” with new college graduates, the majority of this generation entered the labor force in the late 1990s through the mid 2010s.

Millennials make up a large and diverse portion of the workforce. They share many common traits, behaviors and personal preferences, which is primarily due to developments in technology and education during the past few decades. For this reason, it’s important to avoid making assumptions about new recruits and job candidates solely based on their age.

Here are three things to keep in mind when working with millennials at the workplace:

  1. They’re comfortable with new technology. Many millennials grew up with personal computers and internet access in their homes and schools, and they experienced a rapid technology evolution during their formative years. Because of this, they’re naturally at ease around new tech and often find it easier to adapt to new programs and equipment than previous generations.
  2. They’re used to collaboration. Millennials took part in teamwork and group projects with classmates throughout school. 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.
  3. 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 do millennials want from employers?

Like all employees, millennials in the workplace seek positions where they can apply their talents and skills, and be fairly compensated for their efforts. They also look for additional perks and benefits from employers, including creative employee benefits.

Consider these five things the millennial workforce wants from their employers based on trends from the Indeed report, The Top-Rated Workplaces by Millennials:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 educational programs.
  3. Healthcare. Millennial job seekers are interested in working for companies that value their health and wellbeing by offering high-quality health insurance coverage along with 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.
  4. Student loan assistance. Given the majority of millennials in the workplace took out student loans, and the average college graduate leaves school with $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.
  5. Opportunities to give back. Recent studies show the millennial workforce’s trust in companies to behave ethically has dropped, and they’re 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.

Tips for managing millennials at the workplace

Increasing employee engagement and retaining top millennial talent may mean making some changes within your company culture and management strategies. Here are a few useful tips to boost your candidate pool and for managing millennials in the workforce:

  • 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 opportunity for independent work.
  • Provide educational opportunities. By offering skill-building and career development programs, you help inspire employees to work harder, and when they’re more involved they’re 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.
  • Deliver corporate social responsibility initiatives. Get involved in community events that make a positive impact. Millennials prefer working for companies that contribute to society in positive ways. Sign up for volunteer activities, support a local cause, host events that benefit local women and children’s groups or sponsor a local school.

Frequently asked questions about hiring millennials in the workplace

What is the work ethic of millennials?

The millennial workforce is often misunderstood, with many older workers stating that millennials’ work ethic isn’t as dedicated as that of the older generations. The common consensus is that millennials prefer to sit at their desks and do the bare minimum, but millennials look at work and complete their tasks differently than those from other generations. Millennials tend to take less time to get the job done than their older counterparts because they identify creative ways to solve problems faster.

How many years do millennials tend to stay in one job?

Millennials and Gen-Zs tend to spend less time on the job than Gen-Xers and baby boomers. According to a 2021 study, Millennials stay in a job for an average of 2 years and 9 months, gen-Xers spend approximately 5 years and 2 months on the job, and baby boomers spend around 8 years and 3 months in the same job. Gen-Z employees spend approximately six months less on the job than millennials, with most sticking around for 2 years and 3 months.

What are the best jobs for millennials?

Millennials in the workplace tend to seek out high-paying employment in software, data and management. They aim for key roles in tech and business at larger innovative organizations. Some of the top in-demand jobs among millennials include:

  • Data analyst
  • Software engineer
  • Scientist
  • Administrative assistant
  • Business analyst
  • Product manager
  • Financial analyst
  • Graphic designer
  • Project manager

Millennials already compose a considerable portion of the national workforce, and this number will continue to grow as the youngest members of the generation enter the job market. By taking time to understand their habits, desires and expectations, you can make sure your workplace reflects these trends and is positioned to attract top millennial talent.

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