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What Millennials Look for in an Employer, and Why You Should Care

Posted on: October 4, 2017

Categories: Featured | Human Resources

By Greg Whitesell, Marketing Director

Much has been written about the rise of millennials (born 1981-1997) in the workforce, and you’ve likely noticed their numbers increasing at your office.  In fact, according to Pew Research, as of 2015 this group surpassed Gen-X’ers to become the largest generation group in the working population.  Roughly 1 in 3 employees today is a  millennial and by 2025 this group will compose 75% of all workers.  With those statistics, it’s clear that employers need to understand this group better, and Deloitte’s Millennial Survey is a great place to start.   The study, incorporating over 8000 millennial workers in 30 countries, yielded some great items to consider from an employer’s perspective.  Here are our top three:

Full Time but Flexible

All work and no play is not the right way for employers in terms of appealing to millennials.  Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the study is that this generation values flexibility above all else.  Employers who find ways to increase flexibility are rewarded with improved organizational performance and employee retention.  Two-thirds of the respondents stated that their employers are presenting flexibility in one of the following forms:

  • Flex time: Employee has some degree of choice in when they work.
  • Flex recruitment: Employer presents diverse employment terms/arrangements. 
  • Flex role: Employee has some control over their job composition.
  • Flex location: Employer offers work from office, home or other location arrangements.

A recent Inc. piece points out some additional items to consider in terms of workplace flexibility.  Although a common fear is loss of productivity, 22% of millennials say they’d work more hours and 82% say they’d be more loyal if they were offered flexible work options.  As for the retention alluded to above, 32% of millennial workers say they’ve left a job because the employer wasn’t flexible – that’s almost a third – and certainly a significant number when you consider the high cost of employee turnover. 

Making a Difference

Of the millennials surveyed, 77% stated that they are active in causes and/or charities.  Among that group 30% are volunteers/organizers.  Another 30% join or make donations to charitable groups and 23% participate in raising funds or collecting items.  What does this mean for employers?  Simple.  If you want your millennial employees to be engaged, you need to consider providing opportunities for them to make a difference.  Millennials are passionate about changing the world around them and there’s no denying that this digitally savvy, social and connected generation has actually changed the face of charitable giving – remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?

It’s also worth noting that millennials don’t just want to give personally, they want their employers to as well.  A Fortune study found that nearly two-thirds of millennials are more likely to want to work for a company that gives to charity.  Similarly, they’re also more likely to buy the goods or services of a company who engages in social causes versus one that doesn’t.  Bottom line:  this generation wants to make a difference.  By sharing in their passion, and letting them lead the charge, employers are more likely to be viewed favorably by their millennial staff and increase the likelihood that they’ll stick around.

Straight Talking, Diverse and Inclusive

Finally, millennials want their workplace to be one that is hallmarked with open, honest and easy to understand communication.  They also want it to be a place where new and/or different ideas are encouraged and respected (coincidentally, the Deloitte survey found that millennials seek the same attributes in their political leaders).  In terms of work environment, millennials are broadening the description of workplace diversity.  According to Forbes, where previous generations focused on religion or demographics to create a diverse workplace, millennials consider individual identities, unique experiences and viewpoints to define diversity and seek to do more than just fill workplace quotas.  The generation is similarly reshaping views on inclusion.  Where prior generations place emphasis on fairness, equity, tolerance and acceptance, millennials are moving towards a deeper connection.  They value the exchange of ideas via cultural connections, are attracted to environments where true teamwork is embraced and are driven by their shared successes and overall business impact.

It’s clear that millennials are an integral part of today’s workforce and they’re changing the status quo.  Employers who seek to understand the unique attributes of this generation and provide opportunities to nourish their passions, enrich their workplace experiences and provide for growth and development, could be well on their way to future –  and sustained –  success.


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