The Motivated Millennial: The Work Environment Millennials Want to Work In

April 25 - Sheena Sharma

Happy hump day, folks! While I usually write this column for millennial employees, I’m going to go ahead and writing this week’s column for employers who employ millennials.

A recent report from Merrill Lynch Wealth Management caught my eye. The report confirms that only 19 percent of millennials and Gen Z “define financial success as being rich.” So, what do they define “financial success” as? Being debt-free.

While that may be one of the most depressing things I’ve ever heard, let’s look at what employers can do to make millennials happier in the workplace. We know millennials want more face-time with the boss, social work environments and feeling like what they do really matters. So how can you, as an employer, implement these things?

First, let’s look at why these things are so important to millennials.

Why Millennials Value What They Value

Millennials have always been a social bunch: We were still able to grow up a little before Instagram, Facebook, and the like took storm. But the workplace is changing pretty quickly, thanks to tech. And as remote work starts to become more common in this gig economy, millennials are feeling more and more disconnected from the workplace.

(I can attest to this! I work from home because I have chronic pain, but sometimes I feel super lonely and miss the “team” feeling).

While working from home definitely has its benefits – clinical psychologist Ryan Hooper says “the flexibility and independence can be wonderfully freeing” - it can also lead to that not being part of a team feeling, and even depression.

That’s why company culture is so important to millennials.

How to Create a Company Culture that Millennials Enjoy

So, you want to keep your millennials around? The most impactful thing you can do is to create a work environment that, well, they actually want to be in.

Implement programs that will help your employees grow. No one really cares much about your company’s time-wasting happy hours. What they do care about are the two P’s: passion and purpose.

Millennials are knowledge-hungry (who wouldn’t be in such a competitive market?) and they want to learn as much as they can about the industries they’re in to get ahead. So, implement programs during work (or even after, almost like an afterschool class) that will help them learn.

At my company, one of the managing editors holds an AP Style refresher “class” for new editorial interns. It’s a great idea and makes the interns feel like they’re learning a ton before they even begin – AKA it aligns with the employee’s desire to grow! Oh, and the best part is you don’t even have to do anything super big. Little courses, programs, etc. go a long way.

Give them feedback! Ah, the F word! (No, not that F word). Feedback, feedback, FEEDBACK.

If there’s one thing most millennials can agree on, it’s how much we value feedback from our employers. Otherwise, we just feel like cogs in the machine, and all, like, what’s the point?

Feedback (both positive and negative) not only helps us become better employees for you, but it also helps us grow in our careers. It’s killing two birds with one stone, really, so take the time to hold employee performance reviews, write emails with notes…you get the picture. By having a leader who actually leads, the millennial employee will be inspired to do their best work.

Make your office a ~vibe~ (and a place a human would want to be for eight hours straight).

When you’re working on the computer most of the day – which many jobs these days require – your environment is the most important thing. It could make or break the quality of a blog post, an Excel spreadsheet, what have you. So, make your office pretty and fun! This may seem like common sense, but you’d literally be surprised by how many offices I’ve worked in that were dull and boring AF, and how that vibe made me feel dull and complacent. In turn, I ended up doing a crappy job on some assignments I did.

As the employer, if you really take the time to spruce up your office, I guarantee you your millennial employees will thank you by performing better at work. Where can you start? Millennials love plants, dog-friendly offices, fun, Instagrammable walls…you get the idea.

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