Why Millennials Matter and 7 Ways we are Motivated




Why Millennials Matter

Businesses today have to keep up with the rapid pace of technological development and globalization, but they must also understand the needs and preferences of a changing workforce, the millennials. Many of us have already entered the job market, and by 2025 we will make up 75% of the workforce.


Millennials matter because we will define the culture of the 21st-century workplace with our career aspirations, work ethics, and knowledge of new technologies. Our affinity for the technological world separates us from our parents and older generations because we have grown up with the Internet, smartphones, laptops, and social media.


It has been claimed that we are lazy, self-obsessed, and addicted to technology, jumping from job-to-job looking for next cool thing. And in fact, studies reveal that millennials are more likely to switch to other employers during their careers. Numbers from 2015 reveal that whopping 91% of millennials said they expect to voluntarily leave their job within three years. This churn may be explained by this generation’s impatience, but it is also largely due compromises we make when we find our first job.

Yes, we are addicted to technology and we are more likely to switch companies and careers – but is it all bad? What about our fresh ideas and adaptability?

Given this generation’s inevitable entrance into the workforce, what do you as a business leader need to know in order to attract and retain us? You need to understand our characteristics, our way of thinking, our hopes, expectations, and motivations.


What Millennials Want

The majority of our generation value opportunities for career progression over competitive wages, a survey conducted by PwC on millennial workforce reports. A similar study conducted by Pomello supported this trend and the majority of millennial respondents rated a challenging job as the most important factor for a position to be attractive. So, what strategies will help you attract and retain us? First of all, you need to understand what motivates us.


Millennial Motivation

  • Give us a cause: we are looking for something more than “just a job”. We want to do something that feels worthwhile and that intrinsically motivates us. Over half of all millennials said they are attracted to employers because of their CSR position, due to values that matched their own. 56% of millennial employees would consider leaving an employer that did not hold the same values as they expected. As such, stressing your values will help you find the right employees who will stay at your company longer and perform better.


“I wish to be challenged” – Caroline Myrland, 24, Business Student.


  • We wish to grow: we want to develop intellectually and sharpen our personal skills and our business skills. We have particular expectations when it comes to opportunities to grow through learning and development and you can meet these by facilitating continuous challenges. Include us in tasks that need to be solved with a creative mind in a smart way from an early point in our career.  


  • Provide us with clear targets and mentorship: most of us prefer having expectations pre-set for us with the flexibility to figure out how to get the job done ourselves. Ideally, we wish for a mentor and would like to see our boss as a career coach. We prefer learning by doing over being told what to do. Millennials understand and respect that someone has to be “in charge,” but instead of giving us an annual set of goals and a once-a-year performance evaluation, we prefer leaders to offer coaching and regular feedback on our work in relation to targets and goals. In fact, 99% of millennials said that they value frequent feedback in order to feel encouraged and supported in the workplace.


  • Customize our benefits: do we want cash bonuses? We wouldn’t say no. However, what motivates us more are benefits like training and development packages, learning new technologies, and flexibility. 73 % of millennials support the prospect of benefits being customized. As mentioned above, we want to work for a cause; ask us what drives us the most and facilitate benefits that support our personal passions, being technology or CSR; then you will ensure a personal commitment which will be followed by a highly engaged workforce.


  • Let us be tech-savvy: we are used to having immediate access to information and receive rapid responses to our inquiries. Closely related to our need for flexibility and wish for customized benefits is our love for updated technological and communications systems, smartphones, and the opportunity to take online classes facilitated by our employer. Millennials expect a workspace technology ecosystem that includes social networking, instant communication, blogs and wikis.


“I want flexibility – to feel that I manage to create value in my own way. I also want to learn and improve my professional and personal skills” – Mikkel Nyholt, 27, Equity Analyst


  • Allow us work/life balance: Millennials are pushing back against rigid and authorative systems and prefer a collaborative and team-based approach at their work. We wish to be mobile in terms of where, when, and how we get our job done. By providing your staff flexibility and autonomy for solving your clear targets, reports show that employees are feeling healthier, more energized and more motivated. In return your employees will give you higher productivity and increased revenue. A Cisco survey of millennials revealed that 40% of students and 45% of young employees preferred a lower-paying job with flexibility than a higher-paying job with less flexibility. 7 out of 10 millennials are motivated by the opportunity to work abroad. So, allow us work/life balance by allowing us to telecommute, work from abroad, furniture the office with creative zones for a more open and relaxed atmosphere, or the client meeting at a café.


  •  Listen to us: Millennials want to do worthwhile work and we want to have a voice in our work environment – expecting our ideas to be taken seriously and be appropriately acted upon. By feeling like we can make an impact by our work efforts, we will feel more motivated and engaged in reaching the organization’s goal.


Four Action Steps to Attract and Retain Millennials

1. Make sure your new hires are a good culture fit for your company culture. By making sure millennials fit in seamlessly with the vibe at your office, whether it is more formal or laid back, you are more likely to make them feel that they made the right choice in accepting your job offer. They are also more likely to remain as your employee.


2. Strengthen your company culture by focusing on employee engagement and performance. Pay close attention to millennials need for frequent feedback on their work, and measure engagement frequently so you know what programs are providing the best ROI for boosting engagement.


3. Be an attractive place to work. Millennials value a workplace that reflects their generation’s key characteristics. Everything from a creative office design to online communications platforms during daily commutes boosts our feelings of job satisfaction and positive morale.


4. Facilitate social interaction by balancing work with leisure. By introducing team socializing like company lunch once every week, “Wine Wednesday”, annual summer- and Christmas parties, or signing up for sports tournaments will let your employees meet, chat and build relationships in a more easy-going way. Millennials prefer to build relationships in an informal way, and enabling activities that promote this will increase their level of engagement.


“I need to feel that I am learning and developing, while simultaneously do something that is of value for others – both colleagues and in a greater perspective” – Anniken Ore Larssen, 24, Industrial Engineering Student.

Successful attraction, alignment of multi-generational employees and retention of millennials can be done by harnessing the power of people analytics wherein leaders can figure out how employees think, feel and behave at work. Armed with this data, you can tailor a process for identifying and bolstering those aspects of culture that are most essential to helping the company – and the new millennial employees – grow and flourish. 



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  By Solvor Øksnes (25), Marketing Intern at Pomello and MIB Student at Copenhagen Business School. www.linkedin.com/in/solvoroeksnes 

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