Speaker Kirsten Asher | Working with small to large organizations, company culture.






I <3 My Job: The 6 Things Millennials Want at Work

You have a keg in the break room, doggy daycare services, and a ping pong table. Shouldn’t applications from job-hunting Millennials be piling up and current Gen Y employees thanking their lucky stars?

I hate to burst your bubble, but Millennials are looking for something more than just showy perks at work. If you’re stumped about how to recruit and engage Gen Y employees, here are 6 ways to make Millennials fall in love with your company.

1.     Respect work-life balance

Millennials, more than any other generation, respect and desire work-life balance. They want to spend their working and leisure hours working toward a purpose that resonates with them, and find a bridge between their work and home life. In other words, they want to find the right company for them. (The best organizations feel the same way about finding the right employees—the best ones understand that hiring the right fit can promote a more productive, engaged workplace.)

This means that hiring managers, recruiters, and HR directors need to openly communicate with applicants from the get-go. Be very clear during the interview process about job and organizational elements like: 

·      The company purpose and vision

·      The ins and outs of the position

·      Potential career paths

·      Team dynamics

·      Company benefits

·      Time commitments and schedules

That last one is particularly pertinent to work-life balance. You can’t tell a job applicant that his/her full-time position would require 40 hours a week at the office without mentioning other potential commitments. For instance, ad agencies oftentimes require employees to be on-call after hours, at least via email, throughout the duration of a project. If an applicant isn’t aware of this fact when they accept the job, then they might later feel overworked and resentful. 

2.     Bring them into the fold

Millennials are stereotyped as self-absorbed, entitled, and lazy, but the truth is that many are very capable, creative, and willing to push their boundaries. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value Executive Report, 17% of study respondents are interested in starting their own businesses.

Take advantage of their willingness and creativity by bringing them into the fold post-hiring. For example, if your company is looking to launch a new product, create a focus group of employees ranging from Baby Boomers to Millennials to uncover a variety of perspectives. Invite everyone to submit ideas, brainstorm together, and contribute to the project throughout its duration.  

Use Millennials’ familiarity with technology to increase “green” practices at the office such as storing data on the cloud rather than printing stacks of paper, and encourage collaboration with older, more experienced employees to swap knowledge. If you invest in your Millennial employees and make them feel like valued team members, they’ll be your company’s greatest long-term resource.

3.     Offer the right perks

Let’s be honest: ping pong tables and cookies by the coffee machine aren’t the kind of benefits that Gen Y employees crave (though I doubt many Millennials would complain about shooting billiards in the break room). Consider offering benefits tailored to Millennials’ love for learning, desire to become experts in their field, and yearning to make a difference in the world:

·      Offer donations to causes that your employees care about (perhaps tied to revenue; the greater the revenue, the greater the donation)

·      Give employees 1-2 days off per quarter to volunteer with charities of their choosing

·      Provide access to online courses

·      Reimburse for continuing education

Managers and companies who develop their employees not only gain a more skilled workforce but also show their Millennials that they care to keep them long-term and promote good work.

4.     Cultivate potential

Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey found that a majority of Millennial employees plan to leave their current positions within the next few years. What does this mean? If there’s no room for growth or advancement at their workplaces, Millennials aren’t afraid to move on to greener pastures.

Make it a point to discuss possible career paths when interviewing job applications and meet with Millennial employees regularly (every quarter, if possible) to ensure that managers and employees are working together toward the right goals. Also, your organization might want to try establishing a formal mentorship program at the office, where a Millennial employee pairs up with a more experienced coworker or manager of another generation. This can not only help Gen Yers find the right career trajectory for their personal dreams and strengths but also:

·      Promote cross-generational communication

·      Build office friendships, which can skyrocket engagement

·      Minimize office politics

·      Make better leaders and listeners

5.     Show, don’t tell  

Because Millennials tend to really care about their company’s purpose and vision, they’re often inspired by leaders who come down from their perch and work in the trenches. Cold calling customers for 30 minutes or handling service phone calls can all promote respect for leadership and a renewed reverence for the organization’s mission. And when it comes to demonstrating how to be a great leader rather than a “boss,” showing is always more effective than telling.

With that said, don’t forget to give credit where credit is due. One of the most common gripes I encounter in my coaching and speaking sessions is that employees feel underappreciated by their manager and/or team, and because of that, they don’t like their role or workplace.

6.     Gather feedback and make improvements

Asking employees about areas of organizational weakness is the fastest way to make effective improvements at your workplace. But who is going to speak up around their coworkers and managers, especially Millennials, who are among your youngest employees?

Send around a blind survey asking for suggestions to improve workplace engagement, communication, productivity, comfort, etc. Keeping things anonymous ensures that people can speak up without fearing reciprocity.

Don’t have the HR bandwidth to do something like that, or just interested in taking things a step further? Bring in a third party to speak with everyone in your team or company to discover the blind spots that are impossible to see from within. An experienced cross-generational speaker and trainer can help your workforce grow in leaps and bounds, promoting transparency and minimizing office politics.

Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce

Which means that they can be your greatest asset—or your biggest problem. If you make Millennials fall in love with your company from recruitment to retirement, you can bet that they’ll treat your company as well as you treat them.


Help your multi-generational workforce become more engaged and productive for better business! Bring me in to speak about “Millennials and The Workplace: How to Engage in a Collaborative Conversation.”