The 3 Things Millennials Secretly Want from You (Hint: It’s Not Higher Pay)

Labor demographics are changing rapidly, and as a generation, Millennials now make up the largest percentage of the workforce. As a result, this group has a strong influence on management practices. Smart employers are adapting to new ways of doing business in order to stay competitive. Those that choose to stick with traditional methods of attracting and retaining workers are quickly becoming obsolete, because they haven’t recognized that Millennials want much more than a simple raise in pay.

What Millennials Want

Flexibility: Work/Life Balance Isn’t Enough

To attract Millennials looking for their next job, it’s not enough to tout “work/life balance.” With today’s technology, most employees have accepted that they are always available by phone and email. Millennials are comfortable with a BYOD (bring your own device) culture, and they prefer video chat, instant messaging and texting to in-person communication.

Instead of work/life balance, Millennials want assurance that they will have flexibility in where, when and how they get their work done. Some are calling this “work/life blend,” in which employees are free to take a few hours for a child’s soccer game in the middle of the afternoon, with the understanding that they will catch up after the kids are in bed.

Development: Knocking Down the Career Ladder

Traditional career paths are a thing of the past, as Millennials show a distinct lack of interest in climbing the corporate ladder. Most are far more interested in developing their knowledge and skills, whether through lateral moves or special projects that expose them to new challenges.

Innovative companies are answering the call with new types of development opportunities. For example, mentoring partnerships are growing in most major corporations nationwide. Some organizations offer in-house leadership academies that expose employees to a variety of business functions. Others have encouraged the formation of employee affinity groups, which allow staff members to connect with an entirely new set of coworkers who share a common interest.

Some truly remarkable companies are leading the way with special benefits that support their employees’ personal passions. Through funding or paid time off, they make it possible for staff members to pursue interests unrelated to the workplace, as this sort of personal commitment leads to an extraordinarily engaged workforce.

Collaboration: Part of the Team

Finally, according to the Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report created by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), Millennials are pushing back against authoritative approaches to management, preferring a collaborative, team-based approach. While these workers understand and respect that someone has to be “in charge,” they expect leaders to offer coaching and regular feedback rather than an annual set of goals and once-a-year performance evaluations. Millennials want to have a voice in their work environment, and they expect their ideas to be seriously considered and acted upon as appropriate. The group as a whole is not content to sit back and take unilateral direction.

With the unemployment rate decreasing steadily, competition for highly qualified talent is fierce. Millennials spend much more time vetting potential employers through the word-of-mouth anecdotes readily available through connections on social media. More than ever, the engagement of current employees is critical to attracting future candidates, and top applicants are looking for employers with a talent brand focused on workplace flexibility, commitment to development and a collaborative management philosophy.

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