There's no stopping it: the millennials are taking over — and not just in numbers. This is a generation whose bold ambitions and optimism don't stop at home: they want to improve the workplace and they want to change the world in the process. While the typical millennial is often accused of being entitled, needy, or just plain lazy, they see it in a different way: they're shaking up the 9-to-5 mentality with grand plans, innovative ideas, and a sly streak of rebellion.
A millennial is not content simply going to the office to collect a paycheck. Their office is not just a physical entity but a place where they can learn, grow, and express their personal values. All the while, they're incredibly impatient — if we can get groceries delivered in under an hour, we should be able to change the world just as fast, right? Believe it or not, all of these attributes can make for a truly dynamic work environment that inspires open communication, employee satisfaction, and a healthy work-life balance for everyone. Millennials expect a lot out of their workplace — and what they want can benefit all generations. Here are five of their biggest desires:
1. Open spaces to encourage communication and collaboration
Millennials believe in the power of collaboration, a skill they've obtained organically through things like gathering friends and followers on social media. They can and want to carry out that constant level of socializing in every part of their lives.
Tearing down the cubicles and creating comfortable spaces for both informal and formal meetings encourages open communication that can lend to impromptu brainstorming sessions and valuable feedback among coworkers. This sort of interaction can empower individuals of all ages and strengthen teams as a whole. And if that doesn't sway you, this may: a study by Knoll found that performance increased by an average of 440% with an open floor plan.
2. Fulfillment, both personally and professionally
With technology so embedded in our everyday lives, there's a continual blurring of the line between our personal and professional selves. Many millennials embrace this idea, and they expect their own values to coincide with those of their workplace.
In fact, a survey by Cap Strat found that 72% of millennials are willing to sacrifice a higher salary for a more personally and professionally fulfilling career. This means they not only want to constantly be learning and evolving at work; they also want to have a good time doing it. They will jump on the opportunity to take a class, attend a seminar, or go to a meet-up or networking event to build valuable skills and develop their careers. This sort of proactivity not only benefits the company in the long run but also motivates fellow coworkers. Just as enthusiastically, a millennial will help plan a happy hour, group lunch, or company event to keep up the fun factor and encourage team bonding among everyone.
3. Full transparency and plenty of feedback
Despite growing up in the Information Age, millennials certainly don't think they have all the answers. In order to be sufficiently fulfilled, they value clear direction as well as regular feedback from their managers. They respect openness and honesty, and look up to inspirational leaders. But they also expect an equal playing field. They want to feel just as comfortable providing feedback to their managers, and it's important to give them plenty of opportunities to have their voices be heard. You may just learn a thing or two as well.
Millennials also want to believe and trust in their employer, so transparency from all levels of a company is key. They want to know exactly what the company's goals are and how they can contribute. This can be accomplished with all-hands meetings, in-house training sessions, and brown-bag lunches, all great ways to keep every employee engaged and interested.
4. Freedom and flexible schedules
Many millennials feel that a flexible working environment is not just a perk — it should be a requirement. A study from Viacom found that 81% believe they should be able to make their own hours at work.
Millennials also find increased productivity and great value and freedom in telecommuting, even though remote workers work an average of four more hours per week than their on-site colleagues, according to Gallup. This is no big deal when you're used to being connected 24 hours a day, whether at the job or on the beach.
5. A chance to change the world
Every generation has claimed to be the ones with the power and the drive to make the world a better place. But now, with a world of information and opportunities literally at our fingertips, it seems more possible than ever. Millennials are hungry to make a direct impact on issues they are passionate about, and they know they have the potential and resources to do it.
Many want to work for a company that cares about its societal impact. They want to spend their time making a difference, and the workplace can be the best means to do that, through things like volunteering, donating, or offering your services or products to communities in need. These sorts of programs encourage collaboration among all generations and can ultimately lead to a sense of fulfillment and purpose — both personally and professionally — for everyone.
An office aimed to meet these desires will find employees of all generations more motivated and committed. When open communication is encouraged, whether naturally through open spaces or purposefully with two-way feedback and full transparency, employees will motivate and inspire one another with the confidence that everyone is working toward a common goal. Meanwhile, freedom and flexibility puts the accountability on the individual, which speaks to baby boomers' hard work ethic and Gen Xers' self-reliance as much as it does to millennials' desire for autonomy. Overall, what millennials want is what we all want — a workplace that aligns with our own values and keeps us consistently fulfilled.
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