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Tag Archives: millennials in the workplace

We’ve been gathering a lot of information about Millennials for the brand new book we’re writing about Millennials and leadership. The book will be a guide for Millennials, their co-workers, and the people who train or lead them.

We recently sent out a survey to dozens of Millennials asking them a variety of career-related questions and received some very insightful responses to our questions. Here’s what Millennials are saying…

millennials are saying

What does your ideal workplace look like?

“My ideal work place allows a lot of flexibility, and does not require me being chained to a desk all day. It offers variety in terms of working independently and in teams, and variety in location for meetings, training, or even the flexibility to work from home or a coffee shop occasionally.” –Laura, public health professional

“My ideal workplace is collaborative. I thrive when I have access to brainstorming sessions with whiteboards, and conversations that combine the Big Ideas with actionable steps.” –Jolene, grad school student & writer

“Ideal workplace would be in an ever changing environment.” –Amy, assistant archaeologist

What are the characteristics of an ideal manager?

“Someone that is more of a leader than a boss.” –Patrick, project geophysicist

“…kind, tactful, promotes equality, empathy, can look at situation from multiple sides, weighs risks to best they can, trusts employees to best they can.” –Laura, museum manager

They’ll mentor and guide you in positive ways, and will offer advice rather than constant criticism. – Brooklynn, project manager in marketing

“An ideal manager is supportive, knowledgeable, flexible, and open to letting me grow in my position.” –Anna, professor

What do you look for when job hunting?

“Am I growing as an individual? Am I learning things about the world that make it a richer place? Am I able to help people? Do I make a positive contribution?” –Lee, senior application scientist

“I look for openings with organizations that have a clear mission. I try to find jobs that fit with my big goals. I look for client ratings on various sites because if none of the clients don’t like that company, it’s a pretty good indication that there are many problems within the company.” –Mary, fundraiser

“Something that I’m passionate about. The last few jobs I’ve really sought after were ones quite different from each other, but they were all positions that I thought I’d do well in, and that I thought I’d enjoy and be proud to do.” –Nathan, newspaper editor

“Office culture that is cooperative.” –Tara, attorney

Do you care about leadership and titles? Why or why not?

“I don’t worry too much about whether I am a ‘coordinator’ or ‘planner’ or ‘manager’ I worry more about what my job responsibilities are.” –Laura, public health professional

“Proper leadership is important. Without dedicated people taking the helm, large, collaborative projects would never happen. They just wouldn’t. And as for titles, they’re just the names we give people to describe who they are and what they do (or at least that’s what they should be).” –Nathan, newspaper editor

“I do not care for the recognition or attention that comes with leadership roles. For me, titles can become meaningless and are only useful if they connote the roles or responsibilities of the one who holds it.” –Brittany, barista & editor

“I don’t care about titles. I’m annoyed with people who are obsessed with their titles and use it as an excuse to stay within the boundaries of their job description or fail to adapt when the job changes.” –Jolene, grad school student & writer

What are the advantages of frequently switching jobs? Have you done this in your professional career? Why or why not?

“I like to not feel like I’m ‘stuck’ or just going to work and punching the clock, I want to know that what I’m doing matters, and that it stimulates me, or I don’t want to do it and I’ll move on to the next thing.” –Laura, public health professional

“The longest I have stayed with a company is 2.5 years. Switching frequently has helped me experience different styles of leadership, given me exposure to a huge network of people, and also has helped me make more money. In my experience, I have learned that you can get a larger salary increase by finding a new job rather than getting a promotion at a current job.” –Brooklynn, project manager in marketing

“I guess an advantage would be you can’t get sick of your job if you switch often. I have been in the same job since I became a nurse. I enjoy what I do so I have not left yet but I have seriously considered it.” –Sarah, RN

What do you think a typical workplace will be like in the future?

“More collaboration, less defined boundaries. People working for fulfillment and sense of purpose rather than prestige of title.” –John, marketer

“Less defined by a physical space.” –Tara, attorney

“More teleworking, more VTCs, more conference calls. Less traditional office time.” –Marjorie, chief of safety and occupational

What are some of the positive features of the Millennial generation? Negative features?


“We travel the world, we grew up with the internet and we’re really good at finding information, we want to collaborate and work together (because that’s what you’ve been teaching us to do since kindergarten), and we want our work to match our values.” –Jolene, grad student & writer

“Multi-task, women and racial equality, have a can-do attitude, are used to change” –Laura, museum manager

“Hopefully, once some of us are able to work in our field, we will be eager and hungry to perform well. Most of us have worked less-than-excellent jobs between graduating and a “career-type” job so we have an appreciation for a good job.” –Brittany, barista & editor

“I think early millennials are hard-working, responsible, and willing to learn. I think we are explorers, and volunteers, and teachers. We care about family values like trust, loyalty, dedication, honesty.” –Rain, graduate assistant


“Some might have broken spirits and have become embittered after being underemployed.” Brittany, barista & writer

“We don’t know where to settle down, we know lots of information but sometimes lack deeper understanding, we need better models for collaboration that leads to results, we’re picky about where we want to work but during the recession we didn’t have a lot of choice…” –Jolene, grad student & writer

Instant gratification, too nice, sometimes can’t work on their own” –Laura, museum manager

“I think technology advances have been very detrimental to the success of our generation. Instant gratification and the ability to commit seem to be a challenge for many Millennials.” –Sarah, RN


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millennial cafe photo

Today’s new batch of workers are not necessarily motivated by old incentives: a decent salary, a benefits package, a few vacation days. In fact, 92% believe that business success should be measured by more than profit. Instead of luring your new hires in and trying to keep them with traditional methods, take the time to understand how Millennials think.

To be brief, Millennials are generally altruistic, enjoy flexibility, crave diverse and challenging tasks, appreciate a healthy work-life balance, and seek fun and camaraderie in the workplace. They also carry quite a bit of college debt and are generally well-educated.

So, how do all those features translate into keeping Millennials motivated and retaining them? What can your workplace do to be better compatible with the way Millennials think and behave? Here are five suggestions:

  1. Consider flexible work hours

According to Cisco Systems, Inc., a whopping 69% of Millennials believe office attendance is unnecessary on a regular basis. Many Millennials are task or goal-oriented and are perplexed by mandatory 9 to 5 office hours. By allowing Millennial workers to have flexible office hours or a couple work-from-home days each week, your company is more likely to mesh with their work styles. Frankly, some Millennials work better at nine o’clock in the evening and, with a flexible work schedule, that’s okay. Just make sure they have clear goals and are accomplishing everything they need to accomplish (which brings us to suggestion #2…).

  1. Give regular feedback

Millennials like specific goals and tasks and they also like to know how they are performing. Keep in mind, Millennials grew up with lots of measuring sticks—video game scores, report cards, standardized tests, social media performance data such as Facebook “Likes” and “retweets.” They need to know if they’re on the right track or performing to standards. On the same token, Millennials like incentives. Consider running inter-office competitions or giving out bonuses (or something as simple as a gift card to Starbucks) so that your Millennial workers have something fun to work toward.

  1. Have a heart

The Millennial generation is known for logging tons of volunteer hours and getting involved in both local and global causes. They care, and your company should too. For example, Dan Epstein, CEO of business consultancy ReSource Pro, allows his staff (which is comprised of 90% Millennials) to form committees and use company resources or time to organize their causes. “Whether it’s weekends with Habitat for Humanity,” Epstein says, “or time off to run in charity marathons, the company’s encouragement helps them feel good about the company.”

  1. Encourage creativity says, “Millennials are the poster children of innovation, and encouraging employees to find and utilize new solutions and outside-the-box thinking can have huge benefits.” The employee gets to learn a new skill or think about a problem in a unique way and the company benefits by tapping into the creative thought that Millennials are known for. One way to keep Millennials interested and encourage innovative thinking is to allow them to present self-defined project ideas to your company’s management. Progressive companies like 3M and Google often give employees time to work on projects of their choosing, which helps the employees feel more independent, engaged, and part of the fabric of the organization.

  1. Offer alternative compensation

Millennials are interested in incentives beyond money. Offerings such as public transit passes (or bicycle commuting credits), shares in the company, or bonus vacation days are all enticing to Millennials (who generally support public transit, like being a part of the larger company picture, and tend to travel far more often than their older counterparts). Another great way to entice Millennials is to offer loan repayment plans (give them a monthly stipend designated toward paying off student debt), or offer them continuing education opportunities (such as encouraging them to pursue an advanced degree or offering office-wide training programs, such as Insights Discovery or DiSC workshops).

Have questions about motivating your new hires? Contact me today and we’ll discuss some personalized strategies that you can start implementing in YOUR company this year.

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