Millennials, born between the mid-1980s and late-1990s, are very different to the generations that came before them - the Baby Boomers and Gen X.
Now aged between 21 and 33, Millennials have been in our workforce for over a decade. But by 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. And it’s key that organisations understand the defining traits of this rapidly growing cohort so they can effectively manage and engage them in the workplace.
So what are the common traits of Millennials? And what does this mean for your organisation?
Thrive on experiences
For the Millennial generation, experience matters. In fact, not only do they highly value experiences, but they spend time and money on them; from concerts and social events to travelling and cultural experiences. For this group, happiness is not just about having money or material possessions, but also about living a meaningful life.
It’s no surprise then that Millennials are constantly on the lookout for a job that provides more ‘meaning’.
Being a well-known, reputable organisation isn’t enough to get them interested in working for you. Instead, Millennials want to work in environments with a positive buzz, for companies whose values match theirs, and in roles where they can make an impact.
Ultimately, organisations need to create structures where employees come to work feeling excited and leave feeling fulfilled. This is what will keep Millennials engaged and allow you to retain them within your company.
Millennials like to ‘work hard - play hard’, and value companies that appreciate this desire for balance. They want to work in organisations that offer flexibility in terms of when and where they do their work so they can make more time for personal pursuits, which they hold in high regard.
This isn’t to say they are slackers - Millennials are quite comfortable working long days and late nights if it means they get the job done and still have time for themselves.
More and more organisations are offering flexible working options in a bid to match the Millennial lifestyle, such as flexitime, compressed hours and remote working. But it’s not just an employee perk - it can benefit your company too. It can lead to improved staff motivation, engagement and retention rates, and reduced stress and fatigue - all of which are conducive to a more productive work environment.
Value regular feedback
Many Millennials grew up with constant praise from their Baby Boomer parents. And this translates to their expectations in the workplace. Research by PWC reveals 51% of Millennials feel that feedback should be given frequently or continually on the job. Only 1% said feedback was not important to them.
Mid-year and annual reviews are not enough for this cohort. It's vital that organisations respond to these needs by having structures in place for managers to provide frequent, ongoing feedback to employees.
Hungry to learn
Opportunities for continuous learning are important for Millennials. They want to work in organisations where they will be able to expand their skill sets, and where they feel supported to advance and develop their careers.
Organisations need to provide these opportunities for continuous learning and development, through coaching and training. Millennials also respond well to mentoring from experienced employees. Research by Deloitte revealed a positive correlation between employees who have a mentor and how long they expect to stay in their company. Those intending to stay with their organisation for more than five years were twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%).
When it comes to learning styles, Millennials prefer a hands-on approach rather than being told what to do. And they are used to digital learning styles and delivery methods, such as online learning modules and webinars.
The ability to work in teams, collaborate and build relationships are important for Millennials. They like the sense of unity that working in groups brings. They also tend to prefer a cross-functional way of working to hierarchical structures.
To engage Millennials, it’s important that you create a working environment that helps foster opportunities for teamwork and collaboration. It's also a good idea to design the office space to promote easy idea-sharing - think open plan design, hot desking, whiteboards and relaxed meeting spaces.
Though these are common traits of Millennials, there isn’t a Millennial personality ‘type’. Our personalities are complex, and it’s vital to acknowledge that Millennials can’t just be clubbed together and labelled the same way. Understanding the personality traits of each individual is the only way to truly identify how to manage and engage them in the workplace.
Maintaining high engagement levels is crucial for any organisation wanting to succeed in a competitive environment. And in recent years we’ve witnessed a power shift from the employer to the employee. Employees now have much greater control, with companies having to work hard to promote not only the purpose of their business but also the employee experience. Understanding what employees - particularly the Millennial generation - want from this experience is a critical first step.