Millennials in the Workplace

Millennials are the largest generation in the US labor force, currently accounting for more than a third of all American workforce participants. Because this generation will continue to consume much of the job market in the coming years, it’s crucial employers strive to make their workplaces more conducive to these early to mid-level career professionals.

Here is some useful information about who millennials are, what they want from their employers and a few tips for managing millennials.

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Who are millennials?

A millennial is defined as anyone born between 1981 and 1996, according to Pew Research. While many people still associate the term “millennials” with young adults fresh out of college, a significant portion of this generation has been in the professional world for several years. In fact, the oldest members of this group entered the labor force in the late 1990s.

Although there are many stereotypes about millennials, this group is large and highly diverse. That’s why it’s important 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, which is primarily due to developments in technology and education over the past few decades.

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

  1. They’re comfortable with new technology
    Many millennials grew up with personal computers and internet access in their homes and/or schools, and 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
    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.
  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, millennial professionals want to work in positions where they can apply their talents and skills, and be fairly compensated for their efforts. But this generation also seeks a few additional perks and benefits from employers.

Here are five things millennial workers want from their employers based on trends from the Indeed report, The Top-Rated Workplaces: Best 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 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.
  4. Student loan assistance
    Given the majority of millennials 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 millennials’ 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

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 for managing millennials:

  • 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
    Offering skill-building and career development programs help employees become more engaged, 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.


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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