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The Proper Care and Feeding of Millennials in the Workplace

The Proper Care and Feeding of Millennials in the WorkplaceMillennials using mobile phone outside


Recruiting and retaining Millennials depends on understanding who they are and what they want and having a Millennial Talent Management Strategy.

Who are they?


Millennials are those born in the 80s and 90s more or less, basically the 20-40 year old work force. Millennials now make up just over one-third of the workforce (more than the Bookers or Generation X) and by 2020 Millennials will form 50% of the global workforce.


Described in many ways: ‘hopeful’, ‘narcissistic’, ‘nomads’. These digital natives certainly are tech-savvy, connected, mobile, and social. As opposed to previous generations, the millennials are much more attracted to on-demand work, and flexibility of all flavors. As compared to Gen X, this cohort is considered by hiring managers to be much more open to change (72% Millennials vs 28% Gen X), much more creative, money-driven, and adaptable, with a bit more of an entrepreneurial attitude. Millennials are a bit less confident (46%) than Gen X (54%), and much less team players (27%) as compared to Gen X (73%), according to KPCB’s Internet Trends 2015.


Millennials in the Workforce


It’s a candidate’s market with low-tech unemployment and companies battling it out over the same employee pool in many areas. The Millennials have come of age and their skills are in high demand. Tech turnover is exacerbated by the competition in the market, and this is more acute when it comes to Millennials who are reportedly changing jobs every 2.3 years. This employee turnover has serious cost implications (The Saratoga Institute puts the expense at 150% of the annual salary for a given position). Employers need to build this cost into their staffing planning.


What do they want?



Millennials most value training and development and flexible working hours. They highly value company culture and expect employers to live up to the brand they portray. Millennials tend to be uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures and dislike information silos. They expect rapid career progression, a varied and interesting career, and constant feedback. They desire mentoring, and enjoy a mixture of interactive learning opportunities. They don’t just want a good work/life balance, they want to blend life and work. In short, they desire an organizational model that is quite different than what is offered in the mainstream.



The employer programs most successful in attracting and retaining Millennials address workplace flexibility. Employers may take a page from the Results Only Workplace Environment (ROWE) playbook, and link reward to results rather than to the number of hours worked. Workplace flexibility includes: location-neutral work accommodation, liberation of work from the definition of business hours, autonomy in getting the job done.



The digital natives are restless without access to the technology they love. The majority of Millennials say that employers using state of the art technology is a draw for them, and the vast majority report that access to the technology they like makes them more effective. Employers have the opportunity to engage and retain Millennials by ensuring a technological ecosystem in which Millennials are excited and enabled to connect and collaborate within the work environment.



Millennials want meaning from the time and effort they spend, not just a job. They want to contribute to the world and value social responsibility, and they want to be proud of their employer. Millennials seek a sense of belonging in the workplace, and social relationships that transcend the workplace. They see the boss as coach and desire coaching and constant feedback; and they view employment as an opportunity for personal development as well as accomplishment of a greater good. Employers who can offer these aspects are more likely to get loyalty and longevity from their millennial employees.


What is your Millennial Talent Management Strategy?


Millennials are talented and dynamic, and hard to retain. Research suggests that the gap between what millennials want and expect from their employer and career and their actual experience in the workplace are the main causes of separation. Creating a workplace that offers much more flexibility than has been the norm, as well as ensuring learning and advancement opportunities, and having an authentic corporate culture that is passionate about and committed to creating meaning will harness the engagement and at least the temporary loyalty of the Millennial workforce.



Fabulous reports on Millennials:


The Candidate Experience: Why Retention Starts with the Offer Letter

Millennials at Work, Reshaping the Workplace

12 “Must-Adopt” Recruiting Techniques for Hiring Millennials