3 ways to ‘speak Millennial’

Updated on February 19, 2017

KimBassettBy Kim Bassett

Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) are the product of the Baby Boomer and GenXers.  While Boomers and GenXers are known for being career-minded and driven, they are the generations that started the movement for work-life balance. Boomers are the generation who started “wanting it all” and GenXers are the ones who realized it was impossible without change.

These generations wanted career and family. And generally in that order.   Millennials, having grown up in this environment, witnessed the struggle for balance and are upping the ante now that they are in the workforce. They want it all too, but have flip-flopped priorities. For Millennials, it is all about themselves and their family, then career.

Their intrinsic motivation has shifted to focusing quality of life over quantity of wealth. This is a workforce game changer.  Employers must shift their thinking from the traditional hierarchy and workplace culture of “work your way up the ladder” in order to speak Millennial.  Here are three ways to get and keep your Millennial employee happy and loyal.

  1. Millennials crave appreciation. When a job is well-done, tell them so. Millennials have a desire to have their work make a difference. If they feel their work is making a difference, you can expect to see them work even harder to move the dial.  Appreciation can come in many forms.  Evaluations and assessments should be frequent, not once a year.  They grew up in the Google era and they want quick responses to their questions and ideas. 
  2. You can steal a Millennials heart with a flexible work schedule and work environment. This is a tricky one for other generations to embrace, but absolutely essential. Millennials saw their parents and grandparents sacrifice family for work and they aren’t having it. Due to a variety of factors –including the bottom falling out of the economy just as the early Millennials graduated college — Millennials started demanding flexible work schedules.  They want to work from home when possible.   Although they will work hard and long hours when necessary, they hate wasting time.  They want to wear what they want to work.  They will leave positions where flexibility is not the norm. 
  3. Engage your Millennial, get them invested. Find ways to allow Millennials to grow in their role.  Assist them with their career.  Give them opportunities to obtain extra training and education that helps them move into other positions.   Consider offering employee-owned stock.  Consider profit sharing.  Ask them what would make them feel valued.  This is a great way to show your Millennial employees that the work they do is not in vein.  They want meaningful work and want to feel valued.  Strive to show them that they are valued and at the end of the day, they won’t walk away empty –handed.  Show them their time is worth something and they will be more invested.  An invested and engaged Millennial makes a loyal and long-term employee.

Keeping Millennials happy in the workplace is not rocket science, but it does take the willingness of the employer to embrace the Millennial driving factor – quality of life and work-life balance. Offering appreciation, flexibility and employee engagement are three things employers can do to address the needs of our Millennial work force, keep them happy and keep them from searching for a new job outside your organization. 


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