What do Millennials Really Want in a Workplace? | Thomas.co

“Forget the headlines and stop assuming things”, is what most millennials would tell the media and their peers if they could. For a generation that started in 1980, has there ever been a more misrepresented and misunderstood group of individuals to descend into the workplace?

Probably not.

A lot has been written about millennials, but often these are assumptions based on one story or one business which on the whole don’t ring true for this generation. Not all millennials want to work in big technology firms and not all millennials feel “entitled.” In fact, your average millennial today is your manager and dealing with more responsibility than the headlines would otherwise make you assume.

We're going to take a look at many of the misconceptions around the millennial worker and discover what it is they want to achieve at work.

What is a millennial?

A millennial is someone born between 1980 and 1996 which would make 2020 the first year of millennials hitting the big 4-0. To put this into context, Mark Zuckerberg (owner of Facebook) is 36. Millennials are earning 20% less than their parent's generation, have double the student loan debt of Generation X and make up the majority of the workforce in management positions across America and Europe.

Avoid millennial cliches

Of course, millennials come under a lot of scrutiny in the media. In the mid 2000s, Google made famous the idea that the millennial generation wanted offices full of bean bags, sleeping pods, slides and even game rooms.

This created a perception that millennials were lazy, demanding and not content with the way that business has always been done. These lazy clichés have made millennials a target for the media and come under unfair scrutiny by employers and recruiters. Those that retain good talent have discovered that millennials are engaged differently with the recruitment and benefit process.

What millennials want in the workplace

Financial wellness and literacy programmes

“Financial wellness is the ability to manage short-finances while also saving for long-term goals.” Millennials struggle significantly with financial wellness. With larger student debt and a lower earning potential than their parents, millennials are concerned about their financial wellness. Offering financial wellness programmes will help in attracting millenial talent.

Financial wellness programmes include:

  • One-on-one financial advice with a financial coach or investment advisor
  • Access to financial literacy apps or some budgeting tools
  • Educational workshops, classes, or lunch-and-learns

They want to achieve

In a study by Deloitte of 8000 millennials, 53% of respondents wanted to achieve managerial status. That goes against the idea that millennials want to hop from one job to another. This shows dedication and commitment to a career and role. Further training and opportunities to move up the corporate ladder are equally important in any job role they take on.

Flexible work schedules

Work-life balance overlapping is a major workplace stressor and therefore having a balance is a high-ranking priority for millennials. In order to achieve this millennials believe that one solution is flexible work hours. From changing the day shifts (07:00 - 15:00 or 10:00 - 18:00) to remote working or summer hours (half day on Fridays in the summer) millennials believe that this flexibility will allow them to better juggle personal and family life with their work. In fact, a study at Stanford showed that flexible hours can make teams up to 10% more efficient and 13% more successful on sales calls.

Job Security is as important as ever

PwC undertook a study which estimates that nearly 55 million millennials prefer the stability of job security compared to a life in the gig-economy or freelancing.

Charitable and eco conscious

A recent survey found that 84% of millennials make annual charitable donations and that another mass study found that millennials are more concerned with the ramifications of climate change over any other issue they face in the future.

Attracting millennials to your workforce is more than putting aside some of the clichéd ideas you have. HR departments need to work with their senior management teams to provide the kind of insights and benefits that millennials are searching for from their roles.

Whilst your office set-up is important - a comfortable, bright and airy space is a good idea for everyone - Millennials want to feel part of the business and see that there is a common cause the business is working towards. Being able to constantly learn, develop and feel secure in their role is as ever important today than for previous generations.