What Matters to Millennials?

A new research study reveals seven key preferences of younger workers.

By The Editors

With so much riding on millennials’ contributions, just how different are millennials’ expectations from those of the other generations before them? This isn’t the easiest question to answer.

What makes millennials truly unique is their lifelong use of technology—they are the hashtag generation. Using mobile technology and continuously accessing social media has given them almost instant access to data and ideas—and the means to share their own. That is not the only real difference, but it’s the key difference, and it profoundly influences how they will team with others and react to all forms of communication. In order to better understand this group and how to best communicate with them, Advantage xPO partnered with HRO Today to examine the preferences and behavioral patterns of millennials with those of Gen X (in this study, between 35 and 49) and baby boomers (in this study, between 50 and 60).

While there are differences between millennials and other generations, they still want what employees from all prior generations have always wanted from an employer: a good benefits package, a positive work environment, and suitable compensation. However, as their presence continues to grow in the workplace, it does not necessarily mean a massive overhaul of workplace culture.

Other key study findings about millennials’ expectations and their implications include:

  1. Impact on the workforce. The influx of millennials means there’s a more multigenerational workforce than there has been in decades. Millennials’ tech-savvy characteristics contrast with the traits of Generation X, which grew up during the beginning of the computer age, and baby boomers, who have had to adapt mid-career to a technology-based environment. Millennials can help Gen Xers and baby boomers navigate unfamiliar territory. When it comes to the learning business, however, the roles reverse: Millennials are eager to be mentored.
  2. Preference for collaboration. Overall, millennials are a very collaborative group, often looking for a teamwork-based environment over one based on individual accomplishments. Technology facilitates collaboration, and experience and guidance can be shared through technology and traditional means as well.
  3. Importance of workplace flexibility. Work environment was rated as one the most important things to attract candidates to a company and was selected by nearly two-thirds (62.5 percent) of respondents (see Figure 1). Digging down deeper into what components of work environment are most crucial, the research confirmed that work-life balance was the key element, particularly for millennials. But for this group, it’s more a work-life “blend” than “balance.” In fact, this study found that workplace flexibility supersedes other factors in importance, surpassing even total compensation.
  4. Belonging to a recognition-based culture. Millennials, along with most other employees, agree that recognition for achievements is among the most important factors an employee uses in their assessment of a company, with 83.3 percent of respondents rating it as important. Consistent with that is the preference for regular and ongoing feedback as opposed to more structured annual reviews.
  5. Email is the best way to initiate contact. Email is the best way for a recruiter to approach candidate prospects, regardless of age. Remember to optimize all communications for the mobile environment. In all likelihood, the communication is going to be read on a mobile device, particularly by millennials, so tailor the message appropriately.
  6. Diversity in the workforce. Millennials view diversity in the workforce as a critically attractive quality. They define diversity as the blending of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives within a team. Over three-quarters (77.4 percent) of the youngest millennials rated diversity in the workforce as important—higher than any other age segment. This view combines with beliefs about the importance of collaboration and the need for mentoring, likely from older, more experienced workers.
  7. Learning/stepping stone opportunities. Millennials expect to spend less time doing a job and less time at work than past generations. Turnover with this group is going to be high, and employers need to be prepared. Millennials tend to focus on how they can learn and grow in the short term rather than being sold a decades-long career ladder.

More results from this survey can be found at http://www.hrotoday.com/market-intelligence/research/millennial-advantage-recruiterscan- attract-integrate-hashtag-generation-workplace/ 

Communicating, recruiting, and managing the millennial generation are among the most pressing issues in the business community. The primary reason is their numbers: The millennial generation, roughly defined as those between 18 and 34, already account for approximately 50 million workers in the U.S., or 25 percent of the workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number will increase substantially in the next five to 10 years.

Posted May 3, 2017 in Engaged Workforce

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