Everyone’s talking about them: the generation that’s slowly dominating the workforce and challenging traditional office structures and practices, Millennials. As of now, Millennials comprise about one-third of the workforce, and by 2020, they’ll make up a good half. This generational shift taking place in the workforce has business leaders asking questions like: what do Millennials want? What should I change in my organizational structure? What really matters and what is just conjecture?
It seems that companies like Google and Facebook have an innate ability to attract this younger, hipper crowd, but we can’t all be Silicon Valley tech startups with endless budgets to install hammocks and hot tubs throughout our offices. In fact, savvy business leaders see through these external factors and know they don’t need to replicate whatever trends flow down from the land of tech startup; they know there are deeper and more rudimentary factors in play and those are the things that really matter when it comes to creating a robust, intergenerational workplace. There’s a stigma that Millennials are hard to please, but what this generation values in a workplace isn’t that different from Boomers or Xers when all is said and done.
So what’s really important to Millennials? Three things:
To enjoy what they do. Besides wanting to work at a fun company with good people, Millennials want to do work that interests them, challenges them and makes them feel accomplished at the end of the day. They value liking what they do over high pay. According to the Huffinfgton Post, about two-thirds of Millennials would rather make $40K at a job they love than $100K at a job that bores them.
To make a difference. Millennials want to work at a company whose values align with their own. They want to do work that matters, that has an effect on the world and that has a positive social impact.
Flexibility through trust. While generations before them certainly enjoyed a workplace that offered things like flex-time or telecommuting, Millennials expect flexibility to be imbibed into the culture of the organization they join. This may translate to things like flexible working hours, offsite time, dress code, or work style, but ultimately, Millennials are more likely to choose a job based on whether the company has a culture of flexibility than a better paying job that’s more tightened down.
If you’re wondering what changes really matter when it comes to making your workplace “Millennial-friendly,” then start at the heart of the matter and get to the roots of what makes your organization tick. Show Millennials that your organization is a company with good values, good employees and good culture, and you’ve probably grabbed their attention. Yes, a cool office is definitely a plus, but before you try to mimic the likes of Google and Facebook with free sushi and electric scooters, make sure the things that really matter are up to par. All the office toys in the world won’t take the place of an all-around good company that can adapt to the way your employees do their best work.