Our interview with millennial expert Alison Lea Sherwas so well received that we decided to bring her back for another round. Here is her latest post. Please feel free to comment!
There are a lot of characteristics that employers wish millennials possessed. We’ll get into that another day. However until that day arrives, here’s a list of qualities that millennials are looking for an employer.
To be the kind of company that can inspire our loyalty, while keeping us engaged at the job, requires a few culture tweaks that every millennial wants, but is too afraid to ask for. These are the things that if we can’t have will compel us to leave our jobs, usually within a year or two, to look for greener pastures.
Psychological Safety: Emerging adulthood and coming-of-age is tough. Millennials aged between 18-30 (and sometimes later) are often experiencing some tough personal transitions and insecurities about our identity. Committing to a company or a serious relationship of any kind when we ourselves are still in flux presents a huge conflict of interest to most millennials. Because we still don’t really know who we are and as soon as we commit, all of our emotional immaturities come up. A lot of us are dealing with massive growing pains, feeling unstable, and are very self-focused trying to sort through all this — which natural for the psychosocial time period known as emerging adulthood. So, if you want us to be present at work and focused on our tasks, it helps if we are safe enough to be authentic about what we’re going through psychologically. Otherwise we’ll let our depression and anxiety distract us from doing a good job. Millennials aren’t good at compartmentalizing our emotions like other generations thought they had to be to get the job. To us, business is very personal. And we’ll always prioritize our personal lives over our professional lives.
Adaptability: A lot of millennials live with the assumption that we are highly competent and therefore are worthy of making big decisions in the organizations we enter into. Whether our ideas and self-image are sound or not, we will immediately feel alienated and enslaved by any company that does give us a medium through which we can offer our constructive input. Even if it’s just box where we can place our comments does a lot to make us feel valued and included inside the company system. Executives don’t even have to implement our ideas. However, companies can benefit from letting us bring them to the table, because we can come up with products and services that will appeal to our large consumer demographic.
The Freedom to Be Multi-passionate: Millennials are modern day Renaissance men and women and transfolk. We have deep urges to creatively express ourselves. We need to pay rent, but will moonlight as photographers. We will play in alt rock bands on the weekend. Creativity is part of our psychic currency. One of the reasons why we value work/life balance is because it gives us the freedom to pursue these outside interests that are hard to monetize. Millennials aren’t buying into the idea of specialization the way other generations previously have. We aren’t one trick ponies. We want to wear many different hats at work that utilize our different talents and burgeoning skill sets.
Mentorship: When millennials are first entering the workplace, we often need someone in an authority position to believe in us before we can fully believe in ourselves. Building a deep connection with a mentor, who personally invests in our success, is gold to us. It helps humanize the members of older generations at a company, who we might feel estranged from. It makes executives and managers more relatable. Despite our noncommittal attitude, Millennials care a lot about personal growth. We want to learn how to be the best versions of ourselves. So coach us, instead of micromanage us, and create a unique, supportive relationship with us that we can’t find anywhere else, we’ll be loyal.
Community: Millennials don’t just want to be friends with our bosses, we want to be friends with our coworkers as well. We place a high premium on community and cultivating a sense of belonging. If we can experience that at work, your organization is helping us to get one of our most important needs met. Offering something as simple and cheap as a pancake breakfast once month can build group morale in this way. Also creating Employee Resource Groups, where we can unite over activities that we enjoy and perhaps also give back to our communities through volunteer work is another great way to build a strong team that becomes a community for us. Despite our negative stereotypes and bad PR, millennials are do gooders. Don’t forget about that!
Alison Lea Sher is an in-demand author and consultant. You can find out more about her book here and her unique consulting company here.