The times are changing, and I believe for the better.

There are those that think youth are the same in every generation. It is true that all youth tend to:

  • Take risks
  • Have an experimental life-style, and
  • Push the envelop

However, as far as outlooks on life and work, or even worldviews, generations can differ substantially.

When describing 90 Million people (Millennials), we are describing general truths which always include exceptions. The Millennial orientations we discovered in our research are representative of the Millennial population, but not definitive of that population.

However, knowing these general truths will help organizations shape strategies that impact the entire Millennial generation (even the exceptions). These same strategies also impact the other generations for the better.

Here is what we see in work and life today:

  1. We have a generation that is coming to the workplace differently than previous generations. And there is a shift connected to their arrival. Organizations are finding it both prudent and practical to change the way they behave in the workplace.
  1. One size doesn’t fit all. Even though their outlook on work and life are generally the same, they are diverse racially, politically, in styles and opinions. Politically they transcend the 2 party system. They don’t just pull the Republican or Democrat lever. They itemize their opinions and votes, and many are Independent (44%). And they yield tremendous power. In 2016 Millennials have become the largest voting block.
  1. Although they are approaching the world and work differently from previous generations, they still hold high importance to traditional milestones. They aspire to a life well-lived. They look for purpose in their work. When they feel pride in what they do and know they are contributing on a daily basis, the result is a sense of purpose. If purpose is not found in their daily endeavors they will look for it at work. So they, in essence, show up with BIG expectations. This means employers must make sure they deliver on the “why” of their work. That’s a big promise to fill…but with a big payoff.

  1. Millennials will thrive at work when there is job clarity and aligned priorities. Managers who help them set performance goals are tapping into a key motivator for Millennials. Every generation has this basic need, but Millennials insist on this or they move on. Knowing what is expected with clear priorities is an engaging game changer.
  1. Feedback is a powerful propellant for Millennials. We suggest organizations drop the annual review and replace it with frequent feedback. This generation, unlike previous generations, grew up digitally and were accustomed to having a continuous feedback loop. They grew up with information at their fingertips in real time, all the time. How well is that happening in the workplace?
  • Only 19% receive routine feedback
  • Only 17% receive meaningful feedback

It is also true that Millennials, even though they want it, often don’t ask for feedback. Managers can say, “It’s their fault because they don’t ask.” Or managers can get proactive and give it! Why? Because it makes a big difference.

  • Millennials with managers who hold regular meetings with them are 2 times more likely to be engaged in the workplace.
  1. Millennials want jobs with opportunities to learn and grow. This stands out as #1 when looking for job opportunities. Pool tables, dart boards, latté machines and free lunches miss the mark. They are decoys that direct away from the real attracter.
  • 70% of Millennials who have had opportunities to learn in the past year plan to stay for at least another year.

This is your competitive advantage for both recruitment and retention. It leads to engagement, the first cousin to retention. How often do your employees get to learn new skills by changing roles? Millennials often say they had to leave a company in order to change roles. What could your organization do about that?

Yes, Millennials are different than other generations. However, they are changing the way all of us view the world and work. And the change is for the better because it’s creating better behaviors.

How is your organization’s cultural shift going?


Learn more about Millennials by ordering your copy of Managing The Millennials: Discover the Core Competencies for Managing Today’s Workforce, 2nd Edition, today.