The rules of the career game have always been simple. You got a job, you worked hard, and you climbed the corporate ladder. Then, you kept climbing until you ran out of rungs. That was the career path. Until millennials came along and turned the ladder into a fancy bookshelf like the ones they’ve seen on Pinterest.
Now business leaders are struggling to figure out what these young, laterally minded workers really want. Some are simply giving up — like an exasperated parent eager to ship their kids off to camp. And more than a few CEOs and HR leaders are cowering behind their desks screaming “WHAT DO THEY WANT FROM ME?”
Understanding millennials isn’t some simple curiosity. It’s essential to the future of work. And, maybe — just maybe — employers can learn a few things from this emerging mindset that will help businesses be more successful in the long run.
In that vein, here are three key things millennials want from their careers — and how they’ll benefit your company:
1. They seek yoga-like flexibility
Millennials want to work when and where they are most effective, according to a survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (they might actually want yoga classes too). Of course, where millennials work best is likely not in the cubicle down the hall or even in the office building. They aren’t too keen on that whole 9-to-5 thing either.
But rest assured, millennials are getting the job done (although probably while enjoying a latte and multitasking while lip syncing—or lip dubbing?—their way through the latest Spotify playlist). It’s vital that employers get up to speed on this new cloud-and-social-platform reality and do their best to keep up.
2. They have the knock of opportunity programmed on repeat
Perhaps it’s a product of the instant gratification they’ve come to expect from the digital age, but millennials are ever in pursuit of brand-new challenges — whether that’s a work experience, an educational opportunity, or a way to give back. This requires constant engagement and validation.
But, on the flip side, there exists a burning desire to do work that matters. And that should matter to an attentive HR rep or visionary CEO. When channeled properly, this burning interest can help cultivate excellent employees invested in your success.
3. They pursue a pinball-like career path
Millennials aren’t interested in the rat race, the grind, or the sacrifice that the pursuit of a career has traditionally required. They want to stay grounded, enjoy life more, and work better. Plus, they’re motivated by the pursuit of meaning — not just the biggest paycheck.
Millennials want time off in the form of sabbaticals, and projects with intrinsic value. To understand this is to gain an advantage: while millennials might not think in terms of the traditional bottom line, their passion and desire to do a good job creates what’s called a triple bottom line, where people, planet and profit converge.
So, how do you keep millennials satisfied?
Keeping millennials satisfied in the workplace will take a new approach to how to manage them and empower their day-to-day activities. Millennials are redefining how work gets done, but the system was already in need of an overhaul. New technologies and cloud-based apps are enabling employees to work remotely and virtually, while increasing possibilities for productivity.
Employers must embrace the millennial mindset and leverage it. The potential benefits are substantial if you can endure the growing pains of constant change and ongoing flexibility. The alternative is to get left behind. The task now is to keep millennials happy by satisfying their wanderlust. There’s no way around this, but there is a way through this: cultivate opportunities by opening up paths for growth that aren’t only about hierarchical promotions. Instead, give them knowledge. Purpose. Meaning. Personal growth. Offer a flexible learning management system (LMS) that provides millennials with opportunities for self-directed learning through 24/7 access to an online library of courses for personal development.
In other words, pull that ladder out for them! Hell, throw it away (you have permission to thoroughly enjoy this part) and embrace the new sideways approach to career development. Then sit back and enjoy the benefits, which will include an improved company culture — a side effect of the millennial youth movement. Even long-tenured employees have much to gain from this young workforce to be reckoned with and their zigzag approach to career mobility. Now it’s time for you to grab a rung on the antiquated ladder and pull.
VP, People and Place
Still want more? Download our ebook "Working With Millennials: An Informative Guide." You can thank us later.