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What Millennials Want in the Workplace

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By Gina Milonas

Account Executive

In 2016, millennials—people born between 1981 and 1996—became the largest segment of the workforce. By 2025, 75 percent of the global workforce is expected to be comprised of millennials. The oldest millennials are now entering their 40s and moving into management roles. To attract and retain this generation, companies must foster a corporate culture formed around their values. Fundamentally, millennials want to do interesting work, in an organization that aligns with their values, with people they enjoy, while having a healthy work-life balance.

Positive and negative workplace traits

Resignation rates for employees between the ages of 30 and 45 increased 20 percent between 2020 and 2021—more than any other age group according to a study by Harvard Business Review. The average length of time millennials spend in a job is 2 years, 9 months. To them, job security is a thing of the past and they view each of their positions as an opportunity to learn as much as possible before seeking out new opportunities to advance their career.

The Gallup guide “How Millennials Want to Work and Live” discovered the following regarding millennials in the workplace:

  • Millennials are the least engaged generation in the workforce. Only 30 percent are engaged while 55 percent are not engaged, and 15 percent are actively disengaged.
  • 44 percent of millennials say they are more likely to be engaged when their manager holds regular meetings with them. But only 21 percent of millennials meet with their manager weekly.
  • They change jobs more often than other generations. About 21 percent of millennials report switching jobs within the last year, and 62 percent are open to a different opportunity.
  • Millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy an estimated $30.5 billion annually.

Don’t let these statistics fool you. Millennials possess many character traits that are highly desirable in the workplace, including the ones listed below.

  • Adventure seekers: While older generations prefer the status quo, millennials are much more flexible and adaptable to change. They seek out new experiences and are by far the most entrepreneurial-minded generation. They are not afraid to think outside the box and take risks. 49 percent of millennials intend to start their own business in the next three years.
  • Tech-savvy: Millennials possess an enormous amount of technical knowledge which allows them to easily keep up in today’s ever-changing world of technology.
  • Natural problem-solvers: Millennials are motivated! They view problems as opportunities, set goals, and accomplish them with confidence.
  • Highly educated: Millennials are educated to a greater degree than their grandparents. According to Pew Research, around four-in-ten (39 percent) of those ages 25 to 37 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to roughly a quarter of baby boomers, and about three-in-ten Gen Xers (29 percent) when they were the same age.

What Millennials are searching for from work  

Compared to previous generations, millennials are less likely to tolerate a poor working environment. Below are the things millennials crave in the workplace and ways your organization can accommodate them.

  • Autonomy: Autonomy is the power to shape your work environment in ways that allow you to perform at your best. Firm boundaries and accountability for results are essential for autonomy. Provide employees with set goals, clear guidance, and expected outcomes—then let THEM figure out the way to achieve them.
  • Flexibility: Millennials view work as a thing—not a place. They don’t see an office as the only environment in which to be productive and successful. According to a study conducted by FlexJobs, many millennials are starting to rank work-life balance and flexibility as more important to them than compensation. To give your employees the flexibility to decide how and where they get their work done, consider offering a remote or hybrid work environment and/or a 10 hour/4-day workweek. A GoodHire survey found that 90 percent of millennials favor a four-day workweek and 68 percent are happier working remotely.
  • Mastery: Mastery is viewed as continuous and requires constant feedback and pushing to better oneself. Millennials want to know they bring value to the work they do. They seek continuous skill development and meaningful growth opportunities. Managers should meet regularly with each of their team members and determine the most effective methods to keep them engaged and growing. Consider providing access to e-learning and mobile training opportunities so workers can train online at their convenience.
  • Purpose: Purpose is valued over profit by millennials. They are looking for a deeper sense of connection to the workplace and are socially and community aware and motivated. What an organization stands for is a big deciding factor in where millennials choose to work. Research from LinkedIn found that 86 percent of millennials would take a pay cut to work at a company that holds the same values as their own—which compares to just 9 percent of baby boomers. Millennials expect their employer to maintain a diverse and inclusive work environment where employee differences are emphasized to bring value to the organization.

Take a look at what community service and volunteer programs your company has in place.

70 percent of millennials regularly volunteer. A study by Deloitte found that 61 percent of millennials— who rarely or never volunteer—still consider a company’s commitment to the community when deciding on a potential job. Leveraging their passions is crucial to building a corporate culture where they want to stay.


In just three years, millennials are going to make up three-quarters of the global workforce. To attract and retain this generation of professionals in today’s historically tight labor market, organizations must focus on providing what this generation craves from work. If you don’t put in the necessary effort now, the largest segment of your workforce will leave to find it elsewhere.

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