Millennials want toys in the office. Ping pong tables. Video games. Their dogs. Corn hole emblazoned with the company logo. Oh, and a keg in the kitchen would be nice.
At least that’s the prevailing wisdom about what millennials want in today’s workplace. Most everyone in Human Resources has been told this or has helped spread the word. Only it’s not exactly true.
So, what do millennials want in the workplace? To provide HR professionals with some insight and help them equip their companies with what millennials want most from their employer, I asked my fellow leaders at national executive search firm Lucas Group.
My takeaway is that millennials desire much, much more from their employers than the stereotypes suggest. Knowing this, HR pros can advocate for workplace improvements that truly meet today’s millennial needs.
Here are some of their wants:
A Mission, Not a Job
“They want to know the vision and mission of the company – what will I be doing and how does it impact people, society and the greater good,” said Aram Lulla, General Manager of Lucas Group’s Human Resources division. “That carries more weight now than ever before. Today, it’s not what they do, it’s how they do it, why they do it and what impact that has and what impact, in turn, the prospective employee can make.”
David Armendariz, General Manager of Lucas Group’s Information Technology division, said millennials want to “make an impact and leave their mark on the company. While that sounds a little contradictory to the fact that they don’t want to necessarily be there that long, that creates a challenge for recruiters.”
Transparency and Input
“They want transparent communication about what’s going on within the organization, and then having the ability to either make a comment or have their voice heard to see what impact they can make as an individual to that organization,” Lulla said.
“Workplace flexibility – the ability to work remotely on an alternative schedule from wherever – is what millennial candidates are most interested in when it comes to deciding where to work,” said Steven Lynch, General Manager of Lucas Group’s Legal division.
For many millennials, living close to the office is even more important than earning top dollar, according to Bryan Zawikowski, Vice President and General Manager of Lucas Group’s Military Transition division. “They work to live as opposed to Baby Boomers and Gen X, who so often lived to work,” he said. “They want to know where the job is and can they work from home?”
“They don’t want boredom,” said Tom McGee, General Manager of Lucas Group’s Sales and Marketing division, contradicting another myth about millennials: they’re lazy. Instead, “They love to stay busy and learn new things.”
Millennials want an employee experience, Lulla said, “that is best defined by continuous development and continuous opportunities to learn and train.”
“They want to know how they fit into the culture,” McGee said. “It could be the greatest job, but unless they fit culturally, they will not go to work there.”
Fulfilling these needs can boost your company’s millennial recruiting. Of course, a few perks and toys won’t hurt.
As Lulla points out, perks are still more important today than they were in the 1990s and early 2000s, and some companies continue to stretch the creative bounds of perquisites. The best perk he’s heard of? Unlimited vacation.
McGee knows employers who provide dog sitters, three free meals a day and nap rooms. Lynch said one Atlanta law firm covers the cost of a sex change. And Zawikowski thinks the best perk he’s aware of is performance-based tuition reimbursement: Employees get 110 percent for an “A”, 100 percent for a “B”, and 75 percent for a “C”.
The bottom line on millennials is that, yes, they want some fun stuff in the office and good perks and benefits to go with it. But they also want much more, from structure to challenge to continuous development opportunities and flexibility all along the way.
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