What do Millennials really want?


Millennial professionals are those born between 1980-1999. They are the first generation of digital natives, they are more dynamic, flexible, and ambitious than the generations that preceded them. They are highly educated, and they want more than just a job. They want a career. Here are four traits to consider when looking to attract and retain Millennial talent:

Desire for career progression

A recent study by professional recruitment consultancy Robert Walters found that the prospect of career progression is something that really makes a Millennial professional tick. 91% of those surveyed said that their employer needed to facilitate opportunities for rapid career progression in order for them to feel satisfied with their work. Millennials are not content with professional stagnation. Furthermore, they value personal development, placing value on employer feedback. 60% of those surveyed wanted to receive feedback every one to three months. Millennial professionals want management to take an interest in them. They expect greater levels of support from management when developing their capabilities and skills, and are driven by the desire to excel within their organisation.

Millennials are social beings

Millennial professionals are less likely than previous generations to put up with a poor working environment. The internet and social media act as a powerful enabling device, helping them to change their career path or find a new employer if they are unhappy. 75% of those surveyed by Robert Walters said that having a good social life at work was important to them, and that the workplace should be engaging and fun. They want to interact with colleagues frequently, and appear to truly live by the mantra 'work hard, play hard'. In the Robert Walters study, over 50% of professionals said that poor company culture was a significant source of disappointment in a new job. Consequently, maintaining a positive working environment and cohesive organisational culture is vital for retaining Millennial professionals.

Commitment to CSR and organisational ethics

Whilst they are motivated by their own personal development and social stimulation at work, Millennial professionals are not driven by egoism. Globalisation, increased levels of participatory politics and pressure groups, as well as ease of internet access have uncovered ethical faults in supply chains the world over. Thus, young professionals are highly aware of unethical business practice. Many have taken part in altruistic volunteering and charity work during their university years, and continue on with this charitable mentality when they join the workforce. Therefore, they tend to be socially motivated and socially aware, seeing authentic Corporate Social Responsibility as a must-do, not an optional extra. Their greater awareness of social issues means that they strive to find workplaces that reflect their own personal values and beliefs. For Millennials, what the organisation stands for, and how it acts in the international community, is a big deciding factor in whether they can work there or not.

Family values and their personal life are important

Millennials are motivated by family values, and, whilst they are ambitious and career driven, they understand that work is not the be all and end all. Many Millennials started their career in the midst of an economic downturn, and they know that the concept of a job for life has dwindled into near insignificance. They realise that a university degree no longer means job security. Because of this, Millennials value the stability of family life and family values and place a high value on the success of their personal lives. 90% of the Millennials surveyed by Robert Walters said that they regard policies that encourage a good work-life balance as one of the best things about their job. A way for employers to harness these family values and desire for work-life balance is to create a 'work family' for young professionals.

Essentially, Millennial professionals know their worth. They know that their hard work and dedication deserves to be rewarded, and they are prepared to challenge employers who do not acknowledge their potential. If you want to attract and retain Millennial professionals, then you need to focus on building authentic relationships with them, take a genuine interest in their development, strive for mutual respect and understanding, and look after their interests. You also need to provide multiple opportunities and pathways for career development.