Millennials can be perplexing to management and human resource departments, with countless studies being devoted to understand this group better. Management teams are generally not comprised of millennials, so they have to rely on studies and feedback from this younger generation to truly understand how to service their needs. As a millennial myself, I hope to highlight three key ideals millennials desire and provide possible solutions on how to address them.
Work Life Balance
The idea of having a work/life balance is the most common desire associated with millennials. Management may stereotype millennials as lazy and unwilling to work, but this doesn’t truly evaluate the root of their desire. Millennial’s wish for work life balance boils down to the idea of being responsible to complete their work, but doing it when and where they choose. The idea of being required to sit at a desk 8-5 Monday through Friday is unappealing to most members of the generation. True work life balance to a millennial is being able to complete the project that is due on Friday throughout the week from work or home, day or night. The underlying principle to this concept is that millennials want to fit their work responsibilities around their family and social commitments.
Millennials have grown up in a time of instant knowledge, first with the internet, then with social media. They have had access to information at their fingertips and the knowledge of what their favorite celebrity had for dinner. The transparency that social media provides has permeated to the work environment. Millennials desire to know what takes place in management meetings and aspire a voice to provide ideas that contribute to the strategic planning of the organization. In addition, millennials have a yearning to understand how things work, and why processes are done. This curiosity allows millennials to develop possible solutions to problems, that without transparency, they never would have known existed.
Leadership Development and Career Advancement
Good or bad, the fact is, millennials as a group can be impatient. Impatience mainly stems from, as mentioned above, the internet. With the internet instantaneously providing insight, they have never had to wait long for the answer to any question under the sun. While millennials understand that they are not going to become owners and directors within the first few years of employment, they hope to see that as an eventual possibility. Millennials have a desire to be groomed and mentored into the leaders of the next generation. As a result, in order for organizations to keep millennial talent, they need to adopt a clear path of steps needed to advance to promotion.
Why it matters
Millennials have a core platform of what the “perfect” work environment is to them. Only a few of the ideals were addressed, but there are certainly some more. It is important to understand that a millennial does not hold all ideals as their own, but most millennials are passionate about at least one. Passion has been one of the underlying characteristics that have come from attempts to define this generation. From passion, comes the desire to be heard, which is the objective for millennials at this point in their careers. For better or worse, millennials do not shy away from voicing their opinions. So, what can management do to engage the next generation of leaders? Jennifer Wilson of Convergence Coaching said it best, “Take time to hear them out. And be careful not to discourage, argue with, or make their suggestions wrong. Seek to understand. When they share ideas, spend most of your time discussing how to make their envisioned changes happen, not arguing over why they can’t”. Following this advice is crucial for millennial engagement and the successful development of millennials into the next generation of leaders.