In today’s economy, one crucial question has caused businesses around the country to completely restructure their work environments and develop all-new hiring strategies—what do millennials want in a job?
Unemployment in the US is at just 3.7 percent, up only slightly from the 3.6 percent rate that earlier this year set the record as the lowest unemployment rate in almost 50 years. While these dropping percentages are music to economists’ ears, companies seeking new hires must fight to pile on better benefits and higher wages to attract applicants. And as the largest generation in the US workforce, millennials are the ones businesses are chasing after.
So what do millennials want in a job? We’ve put together a list—though not exhaustive—of some of the primary features millennials consider virtually non-negotiable in a career. By strategizing hiring processes and tailoring benefits to these features, employers can attract a higher volume of well-qualified millennial applicants to their job pools and keep them in positions for longer.
In a 2016 Millennial Survey by Deloitte, millennials reported that when salary or financial benefits are not considered, work-life balance is the primary attraction in a job opportunity. Millennials are much less concerned with climbing the corporate ladder than they are with achieving satisfaction in both work and home life.
That said, work-life balance for millennials doesn’t carry the same traditional meaning that it did for past generations. Many millennials prefer to integrate work and life instead of keeping them both completely separate.
Work is more of a space than a place for millennials, so the go-home-at-5:00 p.m. mindset isn’t necessarily common among them. They may online shop or browse social media while on-the-clock, but they also likely check their email, catch up on assignments, or pursue job education opportunities outside of work hours.
Employers can boost work-life balance by offering benefits such as more paid time off or by simply allowing equipment such as computers and internet access to be used for acceptable non-work purposes. Allowing millennials to integrate work and home life will likely leave them more satisfied in their job and more likely to engage meaningfully in work activities, whether they occur outside or inside of normal working hours.
A Flexible Work Schedule and Environment
Part of helping millennial employees achieve work-life balance is providing a flexible environment that allows them to tailor their work activities to their unique circumstances or needs.
Many employers might assume that giving their employees more flexibility means giving them license to shirk their duties, skip meetings, or leave work without notice. But flexible work environments aren’t designed to allow employees to come and go when they please. Usually they simply give employees the freedom to adapt their work hours in a way that may not fit a typical 9-to-5 schedule. Flexibility may also come in the form of allowing employees to work remotely some days or to compress their working hours into four days rather than five.
Employers shouldn’t underestimate the appeal of flexible work schedules to the millennial generation—working remotely a couple days a week or per month means employees can be at home to take care of their kids, avoid long commutes, or be on-the-go while working. Custom work hours also allow employees to schedule appointments or perform other obligations during normal business hours, since many establishments close at 5:00 p.m. when they’d normally be getting off work.
The same Deloitte study mentioned earlier also found that millennials who plan to stay with an organization for at least five years are much more likely to report having a sense of purpose as the most important feature of a job.
A job generally means much more to millennials than just a paycheck, and if they don’t feel as though they have a positive impact on their organization and the work it performs, they likely won’t stay long in a position. Employers should focus on showing millennial employees how their work is valuable to their business and encouraging them to express their opinions and ideas.
Another great strategy for employers is to explain to potential millennial employees why their specific skills are needed in their company. By making it clear from the interview that millennial applicants have value to offer, employers secure a higher probability that they will accept a job offer and stay longer in that position.
A Tech-Savvy Workplace
Millennials are near as comfortable with the digital world as they are with the physical one, so employers must show a level of digital competency to attract millennial employees.
Millennials can provide technological skills and understanding that can prove invaluable to modern companies. Businesses drive more millennial talent to their offices when they provide specific job roles and equipment that allow employees to apply their digital skills.
Incorporating tech like artificial intelligence, data science, and the latest software packages into a work environment not only makes millennials feel more at home; it also helps businesses thrive in a technologically competitive world.
Excellent Company Culture
A work environment that encourages collaboration, transparency, and positive relationships is another career wish-list item for millennials. Millennials especially want to be invested in helping create and maintain a great company culture.
Because work-life integration is so important for this generation, millennials thrive in companies that focus on building great working cultures. Millennials want their job to become not just a way to pay the bills but a part of their lives and characters. If their job isn’t noticeably improving their relationships or strengthening their values, they won’t stay long.
Employers who seek to develop a strong company culture in which millennials can seamlessly belong may elect to plan company outings, hold frequent meetings between supervisors and subordinates, or provide increased feedback. Getting employees involved in as many ways as possible helps companies instill a sense of community in their workplace.
It’s not just collaboration and connection with co-workers that millennials desire; they also want to gain a sense of mutual respect and trust with their supervisors and employers. Millennials recognize the chain of authority, but they want to feel empowered to speak openly and honestly with their superiors.
Employers who show genuine interest in the professional and personal development of their employees will go a long way with millennials. Millennials also tend to respond more positively to bosses who frequently engage with them.
Good management is a job feature that will determine whether most millennials in a company stay in a position or leave after a year or less. In fact, according to Gallup, 70% of employees engage more effectively in work activities if the quality of their boss is higher.
In a growing economy that challenges employers to provide the best working conditions possible for potential employees, it can be daunting to stay up to the task of recruiting millennials. But by building company goals and communication around the features millennials most want in a job, any business can prove to this generation that they are a company worth working for.
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