Coined in 1991 to define the generation born between 1981 and 1996 to baby-boomer parents, millennials now represent approximately 50% of the Canadian workforce and will account for over 70% by 2025. As an employer, you already understand that this group of employees require a different approach then previous generations who more or less wholeheartedly bought into the traditional manager/employee hierarchical relationship and conformity expectations of days gone by! But have you done enough?
Having grown up in the digital age, technology has influenced and shaped every aspect of a millennial’s life. Unlike previous generations, they aren’t easily defined by their social status and highly value diversity and individuality, although social and environmental concerns is a characteristic they share. As the most highly educated generation in Canadian history, millennials strive to be respected and valued, to be connected to their communities, and to learn from others. They also tend to seek out experiences over personal possessions. They’ve gotten used to (and expect to give and be given) instant feedback and have had to quickly adapt to a complex and changing world. They’re also quick to move on to “greener pastures” if a job doesn’t fit their needs or keep them engaged. On average, a millennial will spend just two years with an employer, whereas the previous generation — the Gen-Xers — average five years per job.
So what exactly do most millennials look for in their next employer? The following helps to identify areas that employers need to focus on to attract and retain talented millennials:
- Creative work environment. Millennials have grown up in a time when ideas and innovation are paramount, so working for an employer who provides an outlet for their creativity will help attract and retain the top talent from this generation.
- Social impact and environmental consciousness. Millennials have a desire to leave a positive impact on the world and this social awareness extends to job hunting. Millennials want an employer that is genuinely concerned with more than just profits.
- Transparency and communication. Millennials expect open and honest communication in the workplace and respect this much more than a strict office hierarchy. They prefer constructive feedback about their performance on a regular basis, not only to feel recognized and valued, but to improve the quality of their work and develop their skills.
- Ethical workplace. The average millennial has the notion that most companies are only interested in profits and will do anything to get ahead. They want to work for a company that is willing to do the right thing when it comes to morals, diversity, equality, and social values. Companies should strive to behave ethically, not only to cater to and attract young workers, but because it is the right thing to do, even when it’s difficult.
- Flexibility. It is no secret that millennials love flexibility in the workplace. Working remotely has become a requirement with some job seekers, and advancements in technology and communication have made it much easier to do so. Some jobs, however, may require regular onsite or in-office work. Millennials are still very much open to working these types of jobs as long as options are offered in other ways such as flexible work hours or the ability to personalize their office/work space.
- Work-Life Integration. Millennials appreciate a company that respects the boundary between work and life. Without this boundary, employees can become stressed and inefficient on the job. However, millennials also believe in work-life integration. If they are motivated and enjoy what they’re doing at work, they will spend time on job-related tasks while away from the office, even when it’s not mandatory.
- Health and wellness. Millennials seek employers who play an active role in their physical and mental health. We’re not just talking about weight loss programs, wellness seminars, or noon-hour yoga sessions. It’s about ditching the sedentary lifestyle that’s so much a part of office culture (how long do you sit at your desk each day?) and making movement a part of the work day, from standing desks to walking meetings and micro-breaks throughout the day.
Understanding the expectations that millennials have when it comes to choosing their career path will help you create a more attractive work environment for this age demographic. As millennials continue to form a larger and more influential portion of the workforce, what changes are you planning to make to your company culture and workspace?
For a more detailed review of ways employers can improve a millennial’s work environment and responsibilities, check out this article published by OpenSourceWorkplace.com.
Note: the next generation, Gen-Z, will not only expect these changes in the workplace but will not comprehend any other way.
West-Can HR solutions can provide workplace assessments that incorporate work environment, culture, inclusion, and diversity reviews in an effort to ensure your company’s workforce and environment combine to deliver the most rewarding workplace culture experience for your entire team.
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