What do Millennials want?
To paint a clearer picture of today’s millennials, we’ve created three imaginary personas. These fictional personas showcase the diversity of this generation, and highlight the varying motives of people in this age group.
Recent college graduate and high achiever.
The youngest of our study group is Emily, a single 23 year old who lives by herself. Emily just graduated with honors from her local state college with a BA in Administration. She has always been focused and driven, and now she is on the lookout for a perfect opportunity she can capitalize on. Her main desire from an employer is transparency. Emily said about managers, “I prefer managers who allow employees to be autonomous and manage their work with minimal oversight. Trust, ultimately, is a key element between management and their employees for me to feel comfortable. Also, collaboration is essential because people bring unique perspectives to the table. That’s why I think it’s still important to maintain that independence and individuality within a team environment.” Emily makes a strong case for collaboration with individuals who are encouraged by trusting managers. A Millennial like her could bring a lot of energy to a team, as well as encourage teamwork and professional growth.
Young professional with new responsibilities.
Twenty-seven year old Mason is the only male in our study group. He has been married for two years, and has been coasting through life, enjoying his marriage and his job without much thought to growth. Now, though, he is actively seeking a company with a policy of growth because of his wife’s pregnancy. Congratulations, Mason! Mason said, “The key to my professional growth, I think, is regular one-on-one check-ins with a direct supervisor. A supervisor who is also a mentor allows structure for reflection and accountability on the job. Knowing each week that I’ll be checking in with a supervisor allows me to keep track of my short term goals and continue to relate them to the bigger picture. It also sets up opportunities to feel proud of accomplishments.” The example of Mason shows us that older Millennials are settling down just like the generations before them. Mason cares about personal and professional growth. He is thinking about the future of his family, and the future of his company. At the same time, he is actively seeking engagement and cooperation in the workplace between himself and his supervisors.
On-the-go mother seeking control over career.
Our oldest Millennial in the study group is Natalia, who just turned 30. Natalia is a single mother of twin boys. She has a lot of support from her parents, but she still highly values parental leave for those moments when only mother will do. Flexibility is another consideration in Natalia’s decisions, as she needs to be able to make her own hours at times, especially with the summer fast approaching. Natalia is in control over her life, and she wants control over her career, as well. Natalia recently said, “As a mother, flexibility is insanely important to me. I don’t really care what the hours are called — vacation, sick time, whatever — as long as I can get my work done and won’t feel guilty about ducking out if my son all of a sudden has to go to the pediatrician.” The flexibility that Natalia seeks wouldn’t hinder her ability to be productive. In fact, it seems like she is an “always on the go” type of person who prefers the ability to work at any time.
Why don’t Millennials want ping pong tables at work?
You may have noticed that none of our examples included Millennials who wanted ping-pong tables and beer-friendly Fridays. Even the open office layout isn’t there. The omission of those stereotyped benefits is no mistake — Millennials care about real benefits. Let’s look at examples of this with our Millennial characters, Natalia, Mason, and Emily. Natalia wanted benefits like the ability to set her own schedule, which is typical of the generation. They care about freedom, and flexibility with work hours is a major perk to many Millennials. Emily, the youngest of the group, has said,
“Having free time to refresh and refocus is more important than just having a lot of money. Also, a person needs time to do more than work. If I’m not happy, the money doesn’t matter at all.”
That sentiment might sound like all Emily wants to do is have fun and chase dreams. While there is a certain element of a dreamer in a lot of Millennials, Emily is very focused and driven. She is a high achiever who sets goals. Mason is a sports lover, but he doesn’t like to mix business and pleasure. A foosball table at work would be a distraction to him. He would rather have benefits like quarterly bonuses, parental leave, and clear signs of upward mobility. At the end of the day, Millennials are a lot like every other young generation before them. Certainly, they do things in different ways and have different motivations, but they are still like the rest of us at their core. They desire real, concrete benefits; they seek upward mobility and control over their careers; they want to work hard, and be able to work whenever they want. Understanding Millennials can help you attract them, retain them, and engage them as clients and customers.