Understanding Millennials is Key

From healthcare to politics, and even the economy, Millennial attitudes, views and actions are changing the face of the nation, particularly where we work. Millennials range in age from 18 – 34, and at 54 million strong, they represent the largest generation in the workforce. They have been talked about since their “Baby on Board” signs began appearing in the back windows of their parents’ cars. Understanding Millennials is key because they are changing and will continue to change the way we all approach work.

The Millennial Universe

As Millennials began to come of age several key events shaped their universe including: the 9/11 attacks and ongoing the war on terrorism; the dot-com boom and bust impacted attitudes about workplace benefits and loyalty; the failure of government at all levels to respond to the Hurricane Katrina disaster; and technology has always been a part of their daily life. Understanding this is the world they grew up in, helps us to better understand the Millennial point of view, expectations and goals.

Marketing to the Millennials

A presentation by UrbanBound grouped the Millennial point of view, expectations and goals into five key areas. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. “You’re Doing Great!” Is Necessary. Millennials want to know they are doing a good job and/or feedback on how to do it better. On the flip side, they don’t tend to handle too much criticism well, and raising your voice will be perceived as shouting and whe they will tune you out. Think of it as coaching. You have a game plan, everyone knows their role and is prepared to give her best. It is not just about saying, “You can do it Jane, I know you can.” It is about mentoring and dropping “breadcrumbs” along the way affirming that she is on the right path. According to Time, 80 percent of Millennials say they want regular feedback from their managers. And let’s be honest, we all want to know we are on the right track, to receive praise and be appreciated for our contributions. Millennials who “aren’t feeling it” as your employee will leave to find it elsewhere.
  2. Money Doesn’t Talk. Well, not to everyone anyway. Millennials want jobs where their strength and creativity can have impact. Work for the sake of work isn’t going to cut it, and according to Urban Bound, 92% of them believe success should be measured by more than just profits. Millennials care about causes, they are quick to give their time and talent and want to work for a company engaged in the community—local or global. Listen to what is important to them and see if there are ways to merge their values with your organizational culture, so both they and your company can have impact and grow together. Growth is critical, and promotions are expected as they demonstrate forward movement. The question you have to ask yourself is job performance consistent with a company promotion, or is their next best opportunity someplace else? And that’s okay with Millennials. They would much prefer to take their talent elsewhere than be stagnant.
  3. Balance is Key. Millennials value time with friends, family and in pursuit of their own interests. Having flexibility in the work place will win them over pay any day. In fact, 69% of Millennials think being in the office from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day is unnecessary. They are highly productive, and will give it their all, but prefer to adjust schedules to when they feel most engaged. According to Fortune, Millennials’ give higher marks to companies as Great Places to Work based on options for flexible scheduling, telecommuting, paid sabbaticals and paid volunteer days. Their attitude toward where work fits in their overall life is the complete opposite of the traditional Boomer view, and has already reshaped the Xers thoughts about work and life balance. It is finding a way for personal and professional to work together, as we are connected 24/7, and the rest of life doesn’t wait until after 5 p.m. to happen anymore than work occurs strictly between the hours of 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  4. Go Team! Millennials want to work collaboratively, and as mentioned earlier, creatively. They want a work environment that facilitates that. Think of the things you’ve heard about Google headquarters: play area, nap pods, pets at work, cafes, etc. Millennials want to be social and comfortable, and have access to the necessary fuel—from onsite cafeterias on one extreme to healthy vending snack options at the other— to fire up their creativity. Working with their friends in a creatively supportive environment leads to productivity (company benefit) and meaningful work (Millennial satisfaction).
  5. Technology Driven. They have grown up with technology being central to their everyday lives and at work they expect the best. In fact, 59% of Millennials say state-of-the-art technology is key to job selection according to UrbanBound. As early adopters of new technologies they won’t hesitate to use if they believe it will increase efficiency. And remember they like to be social, so don’t even think about blocking or discouraging social networking while at work. That will send a strong, negative message aimed at the heart of who they are and what they value.

Moving From Balance to Integration

As your organization continues to balance and integrate the work styles of up to five different generations, Millennials account for the largest percentage of those workers and their attitudes toward work are creating seismic shifts in corporate cultures. At the end of the day, we all want dedicated and productive employees who embrace and forward our company’s mission. Millennials are the most technology savvy, and among the most productive, provided they feel valued, mentored, have flexibility and an opportunity to thrive in a creative environment.

It is no longer about work-life balance, but life-work integration. How will your organization adapt to the Millennial Effect?