Millennials get it. They’re the newcomers in the workplace. They’re portrayed in media as flighty, spoiled kids whose main career motives are driven by the option to wear sweatpants and use a beanbag as a desk. I should know; I’m a millennial myself.
Turns out, they value more than office snacks and Ping-Pong.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m a fruit snack connoisseur and a reigning foosball champ. The perks offered at many startups are a great bonus. But that’s all they are: a bonus. Whether they’re part of founding teams or starting out at entry-level positions, millennials expect more.
Prioritizing bonus perks over actual business experience isn’t helping any companies connect with millennials entering the workspace. Millennials are currently the largest generation in the American workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most of the employees at our company, LSTN Sound Co., are under the age of 35. Here’s what they’re actually looking for.
They’re Looking To Be Challenged
Millennials are tech-savvy and don’t have trouble solving small problems via Google or specific apps. They’re looking for unique challenges in the workplace to develop and test their critical thinking. It’s not difficult to follow an instruction manual for any given process. But what about discovering new processes that save time? They take pride in being anti-traditional and building new departments and channels for revenue. It’s best for employers to take advantage of this while helping their employees grow.
They’re Looking To Build Relationships
We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Millennials know timing is important and are often trying to meet the right people in every department. The intention behind making new contacts isn’t to jump ship; having a healthy Rolodex is beneficial to employees and their employers. When possible, they want to sit in on meetings and travel with the founders. When the right opportunity presents itself, invite your employees to events. Every present team member presents the chance to make a new introduction that could turn into a potential partnership. The relationships built along the way are invaluable.
They’re Looking For Work-Life Balance
While it’s nice to have couches and beanbags, our office is not our home. Most millennials don’t like being confined to a 9-to-5 schedule. They’re goal-oriented: They measure their performance on the final output, not how many hours they punched in the process. It’s simply not possible for most office employees to work for nine hours straight. People get distracted, time is wasted, potential isn’t reached. If you’re reading this in your office right now, you’ve proved my point. Employers who allow flexible schedules and sufficient vacation days, as well as prioritize performance over attendance, are likely to have the happiest (and most productive) team. It’s been a win-win situation at our company.
They’re Looking For Respect
This last one tends to be a difficult subject. It’s not always easy for senior employees or C-level executives to immediately show millennials respect in the workplace. Surprisingly, this doesn’t only involve entry-level millennials. Even directors and founding team members can find themselves subjected to the negative effects of ageism. I personally believe that long-term respect should be earned. But that doesn’t mean that everyone shouldn’t be on an even playing field from the start.
Millennials are usually emotionally intelligent and pick up on subtle cues: If they don’t feel like they’re being taken seriously, they’ll likely feel less motivated to excel in their role. Ask them for their opinions about high-level decisions, and actually listen to what they say. Keep them posted on new updates and partnerships as they happen. These are simple changes that could make a real difference.
In an ideal world, companies would meet these four pillars before any sort of fun bonus was thrown into the mix. The only way to alter the millennial stereotype is to make small, incremental changes within our own companies first.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.