February 12, 2018

What Millennials want from work

Jim Pawlak

"What Millennials Want from Work: How to Maximize Engagement in Today's Workforce" by Jennifer J. Deal and Alec Levenson (McGraw-Hill, $35).

Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) are often described by older generations in the workforce as entitled, needy and lacking in commitment/engagement. If these views are true, the business world of the future will be managed by the self-indulgent. In search of the truth, the authors' decade-long research studies involved analyzing responses from over 25,000 Millennials (92 percent were "professionals") from 22 countries. Here are some highlights of their findings:

Entitlement — Millennials understand that "the job needs to get done." They also understand that doing it often comes at the expense of their personal lives. They prefer flexible work schedules that involve work-from-home, which frees time otherwise spent commuting for personal use.

Needy — They ask for constant feedback because they feel like outsiders under the microscope. As such, it's important to them to find out what their work contributes, and if it meets or exceeds expectations. That's strategic thinking, not neediness. Aligning timely feedback with mentoring programs creates the check-ins Millennials want.

Lacking in commitment/engagement — Less than a third of those surveyed say they look forward to coming to work. Why? Millennials don't want to be told how to do their jobs. When given lock-step directions, they feel constrained because they like to think about new ways of doing things. Seeing them as change agents, rather than complainers, would increase their engagement — and get their elders thinking, too.

Authors' conclusion: "Millennials want to do interesting work with people they enjoy, for which they are well-paid, and still have time to live their lives as well as work." How does that differ from the aspirations of older generations?

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