Millennials may spend their lunch break calling mom and dad, something that baby boomers and Generation Xers may never have even considered, but that’s because they usually have much stronger relationships with their parents than previous generations.
Yet too many employers don’t try to understand the different characteristics of millennials and instead try to fit them into a mold that worked for previous generations of workers. Understanding the millennial workforce and reducing job turnover has to start with understanding millennials and what makes them tick.
22. Millennials Value Cooperation Over Competition
Many companies look for ways to get employees to compete with each other and offer incentives to the winners. They may offer a gift card to the worker who gets the newest clients or makes the most sales in a given period. They may base raises on who does the best and employee rankings.
But millennials, on the whole, are not interested in competition. They would much rather cooperate with their peers and coworkers to get a task done. Instead of flying solo to try to rack up as many new clients as they can, millennials would rather sit down and strategize on how they, as a team, can get and retain clients that are satisfied over the long term.
While there were undoubtedly plenty of baby boomers and Generation Xers who returned home after graduating high school (and maybe after graduating college), the number of millennials who boomeranged back home was unprecedented.
One reason, of course, was that they graduated from college in an economy that had tanked, leaving them with substantial student loans and few job prospects. However, another reason is simply that they have strong relationships with their parents. Parents of millennials were much more engaged in their children’s lives than parents of previous generations, and millennials want to continue those relationships.
20. Millennials Value Connection Over Corporate Agendas
The connection millennials have with their parents and other family members carry over into how they view the corporate world and their company’s culture. They want to work in an environment where they can connect with their coworkers and bosses more than they want to advance a corporate agenda.
Some millennials want to go out for drinks with their coworkers and don’t understand why the answer is no. But one challenge of engaging a millennial workforce is embedding the need for human connection into the corporate agenda so that the work culture values positive interactions among employees.
Millennials would instead work for nonprofit organizations that promote social justice than for a Wall Street bank that offers a sizeable salary and bonuses. They want to know that they are making a positive impact on the world and that people’s lives are better because of them.
They indeed are the kindest generation in history. Millennials want to solve problems with each other instead of fighting over them. They want to spread out profits so that everyone gets a fair share. Millennials would rather live modestly to make sure those around them have enough. While not all millennials share these qualities, on the whole, millennials are exceptionally kind people.
Prioritizing profits over people is something that just will not ever mesh with the millennial mindset. They take massive issue with the idea that a company can increase its profits by laying off workers in favor of automation. And they would instead put in an average amount of work that doesn’t make other workers look bad if doing so would keep someone from losing their job.
For millennials to stay at a job, they need to see a corporate culture that prioritizes people and understands that you cannot outsource creativity or human connection. Otherwise, they’ll start looking for a new job within six months.
An employer can hire a 50-year-old worker and a 25-year-old worker at the same time. The 50-year-old Gen X’er will probably go to his or her desk or workstation and quietly get the job done without making any fuss. The 25-year-old millennial will probably knock on the boss’s door and ask questions.
Millennials don’t understand unspoken rules. If bosses want millennials sending emails instead of knocking on the door to get their questions answered, then they need to say so explicitly.
Back to the relationships many millennials have with their parents. They expect a mentor-type relationship with all of the authority figures in their lives. They want a boss who takes some level of interest in the work they are doing and help them on a path towards personal and professional growth.
Bosses have never before had to deal with these kinds of workers on such a large scale. While asking bosses to mentor every employee is certainly unfeasible, companies can make some changes to help millennials feel more connected and have the support they need to thrive.
Millennials prize connections and relationships over anything else. Very few will put in a 12-hour workday unless there will be an immediate trade-off in terms of work-life balance. They won’t be working overtime unless they see that the company makes sure that they do have time to spend with their families.
Millennials may take more days off than other workers, and bosses may not understand why. Usually, they aren’t lazy, they are looking for time to spend with their families. When they don’t have a good work-life balance, they dissociate from their jobs and start looking for new ones.
Millennials understand, more than any generation before them, that life is not only about making money. They need money to survive. This fact is indisputable, as millennials graduated college in an economy that had been trashed by the 2008 financial crisis. But they need personal goals to truly live.
Millennials need employers who understand that they cannot stay late when they have previous obligations. Furthermore, while that project at work may appear to be so much more critical than whatever else they have going on, the more significant issue at stake is that millennials need to be able to learn and grow in their personal lives to feel satisfied.
Millennials would rather travel the world than buy a house. They would rather have a mobile office or at least some kind of flexibility that allows them to work online so they can travel for extended amounts of time.
Millennials intuitively understand you cannot outsource creativity. They know that creativity is necessary for companies and individuals to thrive. They also wonder why, if creativity is so incredibly important to humanity, it gets stifled with people getting stuck behind desks working spreadsheets.
However, millennials will likely be willing to spend time working spreadsheets if they feel that their creativity is being valued and appreciated. They are innovative people who are continually looking for new and better ways of getting the job done, and they want to work for a company that shares those values rather than perpetuating the status quo.
All workers need to feel that they are appreciated on some level. Millennials have this need in overdrive. Many of them grew up with parents who made sure that they knew how valued they are. Moreover, those who did not have the fortune of growing up with warm and loving parents saw those relationships with their friends and friends’ parents.
No one should expect that their bosses will become parents and that their coworkers will become family, but companies can make efforts to showing workers that they are valued. Something as simple as an email that notices a meaningful contribution that an employee made can work wonders in improving worker satisfaction and reducing job turnover.
The myth about millennials is that they are lazy and entitled. While some certainly are those things, the truth about millennials is that they are also kind, cooperative, innovative, and creative. Moreover, they are looking for work cultures that share those same values.
Millennials are not quitting jobs because they hate working. Nevertheless, there is no question that they are leaving jobs in large numbers and costing companies a lot of time, money, and resources. But when they find that they have an engaging and cooperative work environment, they are much more likely to stay put.
9. Millennials Quit Because They Don’t Feel Valued
One of the biggest reasons why workers quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. They do not have a sense that they are making a meaningful contribution and think as if they are just cogs in a giant corporate machine.
This reason is particularly exacerbated among millennials because feeling valued and appreciated is connected to their sense of self-identity and purpose. If they do not feel appreciated, they feel lost and like they are doing something wrong, even if they are doing everything right.
Millennials, on the whole, are not looking for someone to tell them how special they are. They are looking for opportunities to use their skills to make meaningful contributions to a goal bigger than themselves.
When millennials feel they are part of something important, they immediately become much more engaged in the job that millennials are doing and want to ensure they are doing it well. When they don’t feel that they are part of something important, they are looking for new jobs.
7. Millennials Were Part Of The Self-Esteem Movement
The self-esteem movement was a disaster. Schools, sports teams, and community organizations came up with the idea that for people to feel important, they need to be rewarded for every single thing they did. So kids got trophies for coming in last place.
The result was a disaster. Kids came to feel entitled and expected other people to coddle them instead of working hard and finding worth and value inside of themselves. Those kids were millennials and are today’s workforce. The effects of the self-esteem movement linger.
Millennials do expect more of their bosses than other generations of workers. They want their bosses to mentor them. They want employee evaluations to critique them in such a way that they develop a plan for personal and professional growth.
Moreover, they need more affirmation than other workers. Employers who want to keep their workforce instead of continuing the same pattern of turnover need to be prepared to give more pats on the back than they may be used to.
Baby boomers and Generation Xers tend to work well in solitude. Not so with millennials. They went to school at a time when educators were beginning to see the value of group work. To them, nothing was a contest. The rule of the game was collaboration.
This team spirit that millennials have can be of great value to employers, as long as they recognize the need to put millennials in teams. Brainstorming sessions can be incredibly productive, as long as there is a strategy to follow up and make sure that ideas are being turned into reality.
Millennials don’t need their bosses to tell them they are unique. They know they are special. They spent the first 18+ years of their lives hearing that from their parents.
What they want is for employers to recognize their skills and talents and put them to use. The millennial who majored in English needs to have a role in drafting corporate communications, even if that wasn’t part of the original job description. The artist needs to be able to use those art skills whenever possible. Giving those tasks to someone else will burn.
Millennials need to work for a boss who sees them as more than a worker. They need a boss who calls them by the first name and recognizes them as individual people who have lives outside of work. While the boss may not be keeping up with all of their travel plans, he or she needs to show some kind of interest in their lives.
Many baby boomers and Generation Xers have long been happy to go to work, sit down at a desk, and only interact with people whenever necessary. Their relationships are at home. For millennials, human connection is the key to everything that they do. It unlocks their abilities.
Millennials are the kindest generation in the history of humanity, and employers need to adapt in such a way that recognizes the different impulses they have. They’re likely to spend part of their salary on a charitable cause or spend time volunteering.
When millennials realize they are appreciated, they will outperform any other employees. And even better, they will bring other workers up with them. They’ll set a standard and help others rise to it by assisting other people on their teams.
The high turnover rate of millennial workers is due to a lot of factors, some of which simply cannot be controlled. They inherited a bad economy and graduated with an excessive amount of student loan debt. They may quit a job simply because they cannot afford their loan payments and need to move back in with their parents.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways that companies can engage with millennials. Employers that let millennials know they are committed to them will find that, in turn, the millennial workers are committed to the company. There may need to be changes in how bosses engage with workers, but in the long run, the result will be greater worker satisfaction, engagement, and productivity.