What Millennials Want

Millennials are fast moving toward being the next generation of leaders and CEO’s in the workplace. As an integral part of the future landscape of our organisations, we must consider how best to harness the energy, passion and expectations of millennials, as they move into leadership positions and become the largest active generation in the working population. 

Part 2 of our 3-part millennial series focuses on what millennials want. How with each generation the requirements shift and how can we bridge the gap and embrace the change that younger people introduce us to.

Several European studies have uncovered that age-diverse teams are more effective and successful. Only 8% of companies that have an inclusion program have expanded their strategy to include age as an important demographic consideration when hiring, equal to that of gender and race. It was forecasted that by 2020, millennials would make up 35% of the global workforce. According to Digital Pulse, ‘millennials are the most racially and ethnically diverse adult generation in history’.  

BuzzFeed cultural critic Anne Helen Petersen, wrote in her viral essay “How millennials became the burnout generation”, “if millennials are supposedly lazy and entitled, how can they also be obsessed with killing it at their jobs?” This sentiment must be challenged as more and more millennials begin entering the workforce as leaders. Understanding their position in the world and within an organisation is a crucial element when working with them.  

Despite long held preconceived perceptions of millennials as a lazy generation, it is how we as leaders, mentor them and are willing to be mentored by them, that will dictate the overall success of the individual and the organisation. 

What Millennials Want 

Growing up the first generation with access to the latest technological advances, this large percentage of the population has been empowered by a multitude of digital platforms. 

Coming of age during the height of the GFC, meant that career opportunities were diminished, and compromises were made. These choices became increasingly influenced by personal needs, purpose and values, a clear indication of why millennials want what they do, act a certain way and are passionate about the career decisions they’ve had the opportunity to make.

The Digital Pulse article mentioned above put this into perspective and summed up the current millennial workforce. 

“Salaries and titles are no longer the defining feature to attract the best people. The employer-employee relationship is beyond merely transactional. Work isn’t seen as something you can leave at the door. By understanding and adapting to the culture of today’s workforce; by inspiring them and responding to their needs, businesses can remain not only competitive but also relevant.” 

In this new work culture that is brimming with social sharing and fusing workplace and personal identities, merely liking one’s job is not sustainable anymore. They have an innate desire to inspire, incite and create change, to have their personal values reflected in every social media post, work related effort and every persona they put forward. It is no longer enough to be simply content with one’s work. This internal appetite is key to harnessing the potential of a millennial. It’s when they love what they do, that they promote it on social media, essentially fusing their identities to their employer and organisation.  

Elon Musk, with his 24 million Twitter followers reiterated the adage that if you love what you do, “it (mostly) doesn’t feel like work”, essentially summing up an entire generation. 

Building That Bridge 

The key to a successful team is age diversity. As Chip Conley stated in his TED talk “What baby boomers can learn from millennials at work – and vice versa”

“I believe, looking at the modern workplace, that the trade agreement of our time is opening up these intergenerational pipelines of wisdom so that we can all learn from each other”.

An eye-opening realisation that we shouldn’t be working against our age differences, but working together, sharing respective wealth’s of knowledge to elevate concepts, ideas and solutions for better outcomes, solutions and efficiency. Bringing together generations should be a priority task for all companies. 

Constant change is inevitable and as an organisation, we must adapt to new behaviours and new ways of working for continued success. The realisation that every generation is different, will help anyone to realise the power and potential of harnessing all generations abilities, strengths and weaknesses to combine and create a well-rounded, capable team. 

Take a leaf out of the books of companies like Google and Apple who have been the most successful global companies in attracting and retaining talented millennials. The ability to attract and retain millennial workers, by targeting not them specifically, but their culture, their management style and approach will offer you the best opportunity to pick from a talented pool of potential team additions. 

Extra Reading 

As a bonus, and for extra research, we have included some inspiring TED talks that discuss millennials in the workforce, the ability of young people and the ongoing dedication to good causes. Also, there are several reports and findings that we have listed (and used as sources for this 3-part series), that might be of interest. 


More Resources

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