Millennial Motivation: What Has Taken the Place of a Gold Watch and a Retirement Party
Engagement and a sense of purpose are driving this generation of workers
Millennial workers may be America’s best-educated and most ambitious workforce yet, but they’re demanding vastly different things from their employers than previous generations. And if companies want to hire and retain top millennial talent, they’ll have to start listening to this huge pool of applicants.
Unlike many boomers, millennials tend to see work and their personal lives as intertwined and want to derive a strong meaning and deep personal relationships from their job. Plus, they want to know their opportunities for advancement, bonuses, and promotions – sometimes before they even get the job. While it’s unclear if millennials are really bigger job hoppers than previous generations, they have to see a company commit to them before they reciprocate. And to consider a job as anything but a temporary gig, they’ll need to see avenues for leadership training, personal growth, and professional development that are clearly communicated from day one.
Communication is key: most millennials desire open lines of communication with coworkers, supervisors, and upper management. Let’s take a look at what’s driving these preferences:
Millennials are after meaningful work
Gone are the days when (most) young people view a 9-5 job simply as a way to make money, and are simply content with volunteering, hobbies, and relationships to give them meaning in life.
Many millennials have been relentlessly taught to “pursue their passion” by parents, teachers, and mentors, and this emphasis on personal fulfillment intertwines with their professional goals, causing them to pursue work where they feel they can “make a difference.”
Millennials want close relationships with supervisors
Millennials don’t just want a cold, professional relationship with bosses and other supervisors. Instead, they want their bosses to be mentors, and perhaps even friends, who care about them as people and with whom they can discuss personal as well as work issues. While some of this may seem unprofessional to older workers, it’s simple an extension of the concept of a more personalized, meaningful, and lifestyle-oriented workplace.
Millennials are open to switching jobs
Unlike workers of the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, who entered the workforce in the age of pensions and gold watches, millennials are far less inclined to automatically see themselves as an extension of a large corporation. Therefore, they have less loyalty to the idea of spending 20, 10, or even 5 years at the same company.
Additionally, many members of this generation have seen parents, relatives, and others around them lose corporate jobs and get their benefits cut multiple times, resulting in skepticism of corporate America. If employers show little-to-no loyalty to rank-and-file employees, why should they show loyalty to a company which isn’t invested in their personal well-being?
Plus, it’s often much easier for young employees to get pay raises and better positions by hopping from company to company in their 20s, rather than staying at one organization for years. Job jumping also allows them to gain a variety of skills and connections while they don’t have as many serious responsibilities, like marriages, children, and perhaps mortgages.
Opportunities for advancement
For highly-skilled millennials to avoid the allure of job hopping, they need serious incentives to stay put. Old platitudes like “wait and see” or “put in the work and you’ll be rewarded” won’t cut it for today’s generation. They want to see specific promotions, career tracks, increases in responsibility, and benefits and salary increases that will be available to them after reaching certain career goals or spending a specific amount of time at a company.
Leadership and education opportunities
Millennials know they can’t rely on retirement benefits like pensions, and many believe that programs like social security might run out of funds well before they hit retirement age. So, while salary is not the main motivator for many job seekers in this generation, they are looking for ways to increase their salaries and career options as quickly as possible.
This means that they want as many opportunities as possible to improve their skills – whether that means the chance to attend leadership or industry conferences on their company’s behalf, or fully or partially-funded graduate degrees or certification programs.
The side hustle
With a prevalent distrust of corporate America, many of today’s workers don’t want to be completely reliant on one employer to support themselves. Even if millennial employees are happy, engaged, and highly-compensated, it’s increasingly common to see them freelancing on the side.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t like their full-time jobs or that they aren’t working hard; they just don’t feel comfortable putting all their eggs in one basket. The thinking goes like this: most large companies wouldn’t feel comfortable selling just one product, advertising in just one market, or trusting all their finances to a single employee, so why should someone depend on just one source of income to guarantee a good standard of living.
Employers should expect this trend to continue, as freelance work websites like Fiverr and Upwork explode in popularity, and thousands, if not millions, make extra cash as freelancers online. Most millennials expect to be allowed to do as much side work as they like, as long as it isn’t hindering their job performance or directly competing with their main employer. Any signals from a potential employer that limit these opportunities may be a big turnoff for young workers who simply feel they’re trying to secure their financial future.
Millennials are willing to be more engaged in their workplace and work extremely hard – as long as their workplace engages them first. Keeping this talent for the long-term means companies should become and remain responsive to this generation’s preferences.
Capital Markets Placement can help you build a recruiting strategy that attracts high-skilled workers of all generations. Contact us to get started today.