25 Things Millennials Want From a Workplace (How to Attract & Retain Millennials)


Given that nearly half of the workforce is made up of millennials, it is important for companies to understand exactly what this generation is looking for in their careers. Employee retention and work quality are dependent upon how the current generation operates. In order to develop a business that retains its employees, understanding a millennial’s wants and needs is imperative.

So, what exactly are millennials looking for in the workplace?

  1. – Flexibility,
  2. – Mentorship,
  3. – Socializing,
  4. – Work-life balance,
  5. – Collaboration, 
  6. – Compensation,
  7. – Insurance,
  8. – Other Benefits,
  9. – Challenges,
  10. – Opportunities,
  11. – Trust,
  12. – Social Responsibility,
  13. – Coaching,
  14. – Motivation,
  15. – Diversity.
  16. – Technology,
  17. – Freedom,
  18. – Direction,
  19. – Goals,
  20. – Transparency,
  21. – Reasoning,
  22. – Continued Training,
  23. – Meaningful Work,
  24. – Recognition,
  25. – Fun

The 25 different things listed above will make millennials happier in their careers. From the type of boss to the hours worked, millennials are looking for something a little different than what has been provided in the past. As the largest generation in the workforce, fulfilling these desires is central to keeping a full staff.

Companies that wish to keep employment rates where they should be and have genuinely happy employees will consider the desires and overall expectations of Generation Y. Happy employees will lead to better results for everyone. With the generational reputation of “job hoppers,” millennials are unafraid to go after a different job that might provide what they are looking for. In order to stay relevant to the majority of the workforce, it is important to know what it is that they hope to find.

Needs and Wants of Millennials

The needs of the generation known as millennials differ in a number of ways from other generation’s workers. A large part of this is due to the changes experienced in rights, beliefs, finances, and technology. Having said that, there are a number of generalizations placed on specific generations that do not apply to every single person within that generation. The following list is a comprehensive one that considers the generation’s ability to be one entity. In order to attract the most qualified employees, a recruiter should assume that reaching the majority of the generation is key.

1. Flexibility

Perhaps one of the most important of desires for a millennial, flexibility refers to scheduling as well as location. In the past, employers set the schedules of their employees, and the work had to be done on site. With the technological improvements of the 21st century, employees are capable of working from home and on their own time. Even if the work is unable to be completed at home, millennials appreciate the ability to arrange their schedules if needed.

There are a variety of benefits to the company for allowing some flexibility in both time and location. It is likely that a change in scenery would spark a different kind of creativity or prompt a solution that otherwise would not have been suggested. By providing flexibility in time, a business is more likely to retain employees with children and other priorities. Since millennials are made up of both mothers and fathers, this aspect can be a deal breaker for some in the generation.

2. Mentorship

Millennials are not interested in having a boss. In fact, most would prefer to work for themselves. However, since that is not entirely possible, those that do work for others prefer more of a mentor kind of relationship with a supervisor. Gen Y members are more interested in learning from someone they trust, rather than simply being told what to do.

It is important for them to develop a relationship with someone that can provide guidance in the field that they work in. Where previous generations would have nothing more than a boss, millennials prefer to have a bond with their boss.

3. Socializing

Not many employers see socialization as an important part of the workday, but it is an aspect of the day that millennials value. Knowing those that they work with helps them to feel more like a team. There are a variety of ways that a company can influence coworkers to socialize. The challenge can come in the form of knowing when to chat and knowing when to work. By creating specific events for socialization both during and outside of work hours, a company can facilitate the socialization that millennials crave.

From company-wide pot-lucks to monthly sports events, a company can show their appreciation for their employees and encourage socialization simultaneously. Doing so can develop a more efficient team and better communication skills within the business.

4. Work-life balance

Working long hours or being contacted at home after hours does not allow for much time of an outside life. By not only allowing hours away from work to be spent actually away from work, but a company can also help to encourage a healthier work-life balance. This can be achieved by encouraging proper time management and prioritizing, proper use of breaks during work hours, and discussing how to improve productivity.

Encouraging these things are helpful in providing the work-life balance that most millennials are craving, but the true balance must be achieved at their own hands. An employer is unable to follow their employees home to be sure they are not thinking about work while at home. They can, however, provide resources if an employee struggles with “turning it off.”

5. Collaboration

Millennials are the generation that truly enjoys working together on projects. Rather than working alone all day every day, a person from this group of individuals will commonly feel more comfortable collaborating with other people. It is often seen as a joint effort, which helps to reduce stress, increase socialization, and can often provide more creative solutions. By allowing group work, a company can please millennials in this way.

6. Compensation

Like any employee, a member of Gen Y is one that desires to be fairly compensatedOpens in a new tab. for his or her education, experience, and overall efforts. However, the difference between millennials and past generations is the crushing amount of student loan debt that most people in the generation have to pay off. It is because of this factor that they seek employment that offers pay that reflects their college education.

Because of the always-growing cost of student loans, employees have more debt than ever before and terrifying responsibility of paying it all off before he or she retires. Because of this fact, many potential employees know exactly what they should be making. This can make negotiations more complicated, but it is important to find the compensation package that truly works for both parties.

7. Insurance

With the always increasing cost of healthcare and outside insurance, providing employees with quality insurance options is key to keeping millennials on staff. The challenges that people face purchasing insurance on a personal basis are often enough to make employer-provided insurance seem like a dream come true. Without the benefit of quality health insurance, a job seems much less like a viable option for the job seeker.

Other insurance benefits that a company should consider include life insurance and pet insurance. It seems as though millennials bring their pets into the family more literally than ever before. Since the life and health of the family pet are not only important but also costly, pet insurance is becoming a popular option.

8. Other Benefits

Although insurance is a huge benefit to millennials; they are also looking for the other things that a company can do to help them out in their personal and financial lives.

An onsite gym or a discount to a local gym will entice most Generation Y individuals. A specialized rate for a weight loss program would do the same. Programs that allow employees to direct pay for child care tax-free is huge. These examples are just a few of the additional benefits that millennials are looking for from an employer. By offering these benefits, employees feel as though their employer actually cares for their wellbeing.

9. Challenges

A career without challenges is a career that would bore Gen Y members. Rather than doing a task that is simple, the same every day, and requires no thought, most millennials are looking for a job that can offer them something more. Challenges, although difficult, are more rewarding than a menial task. When completed, an employee will feel much more accomplished and ready to move on to the next one.

This seems to go against the stereotype that this generation is lazy. In truth, most millennials are unafraid of work. They do, however, prefer work that will help them to grow and learn. A challenge is often a task that is accepted and ultimately tackled, providing knowledge and experience in the process.

10. Opportunities

Very few millennials are interested in a job if there is no opportunity for advancement. Although a good number of the generation seems to be looking for the perfect job, they truly want to find one company to make a career with. Finding that position is often a challenge in itself, as some companies promise opportunities and fail to deliver. By providing true opportunities – in both climbing the career ladder and in yearly salary raises – a company can do better to keep millennials on the workforce.

Given that the oldest of the previous generation – Gen X – is starting to near retirement age, it is only a matter of time before the options for higher-ups run thin. Millennials will be the go-to choice. However, Gen Y is not interested in waiting several years for a promotion. This is a group that likes to move fast.

11. Trust

This aspect is one that goes two ways. Members of the generation want to be able to trust their employers as much as they want their employers to trust them. They often desire a career in which they are provided guidelines and given the trust to get the job completed on their own.

Having a hovering supervisor is not the way to go with a millennial. On the other side of things, the employee wants to be able to be told the truth up front from management. If a member of this generation were to feel as though his or her boss could not be trusted, it is unlikely that they would stay with the company.

12. Social Responsibility

Most people that qualify as Gen Y feel as though they have a responsibility to the earth and other humans to help those in need. They often find the need to put some focus on how to give back. This can include something that simple as going green to encouraging staff to avoid driving their cars on Fridays. It could also mean donating to certain causes or developing a charity fun run. While the opportunities are endless, they are important to the generation.

13. Coaching

The majority of people in the generation are those that prefer feedback from those in supervisory roles. Although yearly reviews can give employees an idea of what to change in the following year, it is a large chunk of time to simply guess on how well things are going. By providing employees with more frequent discussions on the quality of his or her work, they can be coached and be more understanding of what is expected of them.

14. Motivation

A job can be hard to complete if there is no motivation to do so. A member of Gen Y is often looking for a workplace that offers motivation for everyday tasks as well as the big projects. There are a variety of ways that this can be done, but some potential motivators can be as simple as a few words of encouragement to a competition to win a free lunch. Whatever the motivation is, millennials eat it up.

15. Diversity

This is one thing that is fairly new as a desire in the workplace. Although previous generations had a majority of employees that were the same gender, race, religion, and other determining factors, millennials thrive with people that differ from themselves.

The generation is known for having a more open mind than previous employees did. This allows for a variety of cultures, ways of thinking, and creative minds to meld. The productivity levels will soar, and business will likely see major improvements.

16. Technology

Given that millennials grew up with technology, they have lived their lives learning how to adapt to something new and a bit better than before. An office that does not have up to date technology is not one that would entice this generation to work there. While it depends on the work itself, many millennials have an expectation of tablets or work cell phones.

Although providing every employee with their own tablets can get pricey, they can often be won over with a modernized office. Investing in current software and equipment is likely to have an impact on the employees born between 1981 and 1996.

17. Freedom

The ability to do as they please is a big thing for millennials. This goes back to both trust and mentorship, as it has been previously discussed that these individuals do not typically enjoy the thought of a boss. Many people in the generation have an entrepreneurial mindset. Given the trust and freedom to do projects and tasks as he or she sees fit, a millennial has the ability to go above and beyond. They often thrive in an environment where someone is not watching their every move.

18. Direction

While the previously listed “freedom” is necessary, it is also important for a millennial to have a sense of direction. Sending an employee on their way with no instruction or specifics to the task they are to complete is not only irresponsible, but it is also stress-inducing for the employee.

Providing direction without also overstepping can be a fine line, but achieving that go-between is a millennial’s dream. They want to understand where they should be going, but not be told how to get there. The company and manager that can do that is one that will thrive when the workforce is millennial-heavy.

19. Goals

Goal setting is a task that most members of the generation enjoy. However, it can be a help to the employee if goals are utilized to define what they need to be accomplished. Goals set by both the employee and the employer regarding performance acts as a unit of measurement. By providing specific goals and measures, a millennial is more comfortable and understanding of what is expected of them.

Setting goals can help an employee to understand what they need to accomplish by a certain date. This is why it is important to have numerical values attached to any goals, so they are not open-ended. For example, by stating specific dollar amounts and weeks that the employee has to achieve said goal, he or she will be more understanding of the feedback received if that goal is or is not met.

20. Transparency

A company that does things behind their employees’ backs are often companies that do not have a good reputation. Being upfront and even forward with any actions is the best policy for this group. In fact, by having an open discussion and including employees on policy changes or other things, a company can develop a real sense of family within the business.

While doing things behind the scenes can get messy in the light of day, it is encouraged by millennials to keep things out in the open to begin with. Since this generation will be running the companies sooner rather than later, it is ideal to start the transparency now.

21. Reasoning

Millennials ask questions. Sometimes they ask a lot of questions. While most people in other generations, specifically the baby boomers, would simply do as they were told, the generation in question is more likely to want to know why. “Because I said so” is not a reason that most millennials will accept.

Providing the expected information in a fast and thorough manner will help this group to perform to the best of their ability. By avoiding the questions or giving incomplete answers, companies will do nothing to keep the workforce happy. Information is a deep desire for these individuals and important to the work they are doing.

22. Continued Training

While many employees in the past would likely roll their eyes at continued training; millennials thrive on it. Learning more and staying up to date helps to drive their passion. With the amount of money, this generation has put into their education, having an employer that is willing to invest just a bit more every so often into their employees’ knowledge is a driving factor to success.

While it is a generational desire to have continued training, it is one that will benefit the company greatly. This ensures that all employees are current on policies, can utilize theories and practices, and learns new information. Without continuous training, employees (and the company) are likely to be left in the dust.

23. Meaningful Work

Getting a paycheck is the main reason that most people have a job, but for millennials, the meaning behind their work is a major plus. Without something that has meaning, a millennial is likely to be less passionate about the job. The meaning of his or her work is often the main aspect of motivation.

Not all careers can be geared toward saving lives, but they can help people. By encouraging millennials to look at their work as a way of helping someone else, rather than helping the company they work for, they can inspire that motivation via meaning. If the company sees it this way too, the employees will feel like the workOpens in a new tab. is even more important.

24. Recognition

Few people appreciate recognition for a job well done like a millennial. While it is not the reason behind doing their job, they feel better about themselves and their work when quality is recognized. Without recognition, it can be hard for a millennial to determine if his or her work was up to par. It is also a great motivator!

This doesn’t mean that their successes have to be announced in front of a large group of people. Simply telling the employee one on one how well he or she did on the latest task is often enough. A person’s true need for appreciation varies but often leads to additional words that deserve praise.

25. Fun

Having fun makes work seem less like work. Millennials value this because of how much time they spend at work and the efforts they have put into getting there. Fun not only reduces stress but it helps coworkers to connect. That connection often develops into friendships, which can be detected in work itself.

Fun at work can be as simple as having a laugh with a coworker or sending company-wide emails that lift spirits. While many aspects of fun usually depend on the person, encouraging employees to let loose every once in a while is a great way to let them know that they are allowed to have a good time while at work.

There are estimated to be 80 million millennials in the United States at this time. It is estimated that by 2025, this generation will account for almost 75% of the nation’s workersOpens in a new tab.. At this time, Generation X will be well into retirement, and Gen Y will be leading the pack and given those huge estimated numbers, understanding how to get and keep millennials is key to the success of any business. While the generational stereotypes are not always spot on for everyone in the massive group, they lend some truths to the masses.

By utilizing the generation’s known skills and experiences, a business has the ability to make or break it, so to speak. Continuing on as if there has been no change in the workforce is a mistake. The diversity and thinking encapsulated in Generation Y is something that has not been seen in previous generations. To ignore those differences is likely the death of a company.

Attract members of Gen Y by listening to their needs and wants. Understand what drives them to feel this way and how you and your company can provide these things for them. Also, learn what the millennial wish list can do for you. Growth is a millennial desire, but it is a necessity for people of all generations.

Related Questions

Are startups a threat to larger companies? Although startups are hugely popular with millennials that want to be their own boss, the truth is that there are more failed startups than successful ones. This reason alone is why most startups are no concern for larger companies. However, once a startup finds success, it can become a larger company itself.

Will Generation X be required to stay in the workforce for longer? Because of the financial disaster that many Gen X’ers find their retirement accounts, it is likely that they will be working longer than expected. Although the average retirement age is 60 years old, many in this generation will find that they have to work several more years.

Are there more Gen Y business owners than previous generations? Yes! In fact, there are twice as many millennial business owners between 20 and 35 than any over the age of 50. Baby boomers felt that there was more job security in working for someone else.

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