Listen Up Employers – This Is What Millennials Want From You

Liz Brenner

Blades of grass, close-upI keep reading article after article with unsolicited advice to millennials – tips on how to succeed, tips on communications, tips on how to lead.  It got me wondering – what would millennials tell their employers if they had the chance? I informally polled some of the best and brightest millennials I know and here are the things they want their employers to know right now, including their real quotes as backup.

1.  They are tired of the stereotypes.

This might be obvious but millennials don’t want to be called millennials – and most importantly, they want to be treated like adults.

And let’s not assume because they are young, they are social media and technology experts and please – they are not a help desk!

  • “We are not IT consultants.  Yes, we are very technically savvy, but please don’t think we can or want to solve your every email, computer, word, excel, power point, social networking issue.
  • “I don’t want to be called a Millennial, or told that because I understand how to use technology, that it’s only because I am a young person.”
  • “We don’t need feedback all of the time and we want to be treated like adults.”

2.  Our working models must change.

Millennials Young people are innovative, creative, and have different ways of thinking and doing things. They need a work environment that supports this. That means less email, collaborative work spaces, more flexibility and trust! And flexibility doesn’t always mean flex time and work from home policies.

  • “We need to be in a creative environment where we can innovate and use the tech that we have at our fingertips with other millennials.”
  • “We are sometimes looked down upon as if to suggest we don’t understand how to get things done the “right” way because we are not using traditional methods.  Hear us out – we may understand more than you think.”
  • “We need more intuitive technology to enable efficient communications (Less email!)”
  • “We need more flexibility in how work gets done (choice of devices and technology, remote work, meeting styles, content consumption, etc.)”

3.  They seek purpose and balance in their lives.

Young people are driven by a greater sense of purpose. The more organizations can do to support young people to enrich their lives outside of the office and provide opportunities to have a voice and impact inside the office, the greater satisfaction there will be. Sometimes they need a little strategic direction to understand how their project fits in with the bigger picture.

  • “Work will never become my whole life. If you can’t give me the flexibility to work from home or leave early, I will find someone who can.”
  • “We want to be able to make and see a direct, if not immediate, impact on the organization through our work. It helps us stay engaged and motivated if we are able to see the greater purpose and differences our work makes.”
  • “Be open to innovative thinking and change. We’re good at adapting to a fast-paced, ever-changing world. Let us help move that thinking forward.”
  • “Let’s not just do lip-service to Corporate Social Responsibility and volunteering – let’s be catalysts for change.”
  • “Work/life balance is important: We are more than willing to go above and beyond for our jobs, but perform best when we have a healthy balance – it motivates us.”
  • “We think in terms of “the future” not today. We want to know how this model, or this process, or this team will help move things forward, not just next week, but next year.”

4.  They want to have a voice.

Research shows that diverse groups come up with better ideas so let’s make an effort to make sure their voices heard.

  • “We want an increased voice in strategic decisions (We know where the market is going, as we are constantly connected via mobile and social).”
  • “We’re determined, motivated and educated. We’re striving to get ahead in our careers and “be someone.”
  • “Give us different, interesting/challenging projects to work on. We like ever-changing tasks within our work to stay challenged. Repetitive work is boring and limits our potential for meaningful contribution.

5.  They need our support.

We need to be there for young people – they are hungry to learn, they crave mentoring, and positive feedback always helps.

  • “Catch me doing something right! I’m way more likely to repeat my actions when I get positive feedback, than change them if I get negative feedback.”
  • “We like to network, and look to mentor-like co-workers for advice, so be willing to share your experiences.”

My biggest lesson during this exercise? How willing they were to help and contribute. There is a lot to learn from this new, amazing, fresh generation but first we need to be willing to listen.

Still want to learn more about Millennials? Join us in the Future of Work Forum at SAPPHIRENOW to go beyond the research. Click here for more information and to register.

Liz Brenner

About Liz Brenner

Liz Brenner is a Vice President of Human Resources at SAP focused on Employee Engagement and Organizational Design in the Talent and Leadership organization. Her specialties include Talent Strategy Development, Global Marketing Strategy Development, Relationship and Project Management.