What millennials want from the workplace

What millennials want from the workplace

It has become a bit of a long-running joke on social media. The list of things millennials are accused of ruining just grows and grows.

It features everything from marriage (we’re marrying less often and later) and diamonds (we like them ethical and cruelty-free) to napkins (we prefer paper towels). Our different tastes and priorities are noted in studies of shopping habits around the world.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that millennials want a workplace that functions differently to how it has done for previous generations as well (the cheek!).

So, before we’re accused of ruining the workplace (although no-doubt we already have been), what is it millennials really want?


American journalist Joel Stein labelled millennials the ‘me me me generation’. He’s one of those who reckons we’re lazy job-hoppers who have a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Apparently we believe that we should be promoted every two years regardless of performance and lack commitment if we don’t get our way.

Two thirds of millennials hope to move on from their current employer by 2020, according to a survey by Deloitte last year.

Yet I don’t think the entitled ‘me me me’ cliche is a fair depiction of our generation. We’re not lazy, we’re not entitled, we simply have certain values that we look for in the companies we want to work for.

Our desires for values-driven work may stem from the fact that we grew up during the financial crisis, seeing mass redundancies, and experiencing or witnessing worries over the lack of stable, long-term employment. We are the first generation to have to cope widely with zero-hours contracts.

We want more from our workplace, and that doesn’t just mean giving us the stereotypical millennial perks such as ping pong tables or beer on tap (though I wouldn’t complain!). It is purpose, rather thank perks, that drive us.

Studies show that we’re more concerned with job fulfilment than financial gain when compared to previous generations. We also want to work somewhere that is more ethical, more diverse, and offers better work-life balance. We’re looking for a positive and better-organised office environment for all.

We want to give back, so a workplace that offers volunteering leave or focuses on its charitable activity is a place that we want to be. Flexible working has also become more important as the development in technology means we’re always connected. A workplace that allows ‘agile’ or remote working means that dentist appointments, trips to the doctors and internet shopping deliveries fit more easily into our calendars.

But it goes further than this.

Flexible working gives new parents the ability to evenly share responsibilities and allows childcare to fit into everyday life. Studies show that young fathers want to take on more of the childcare and it gives them the opportunity to embrace this.

Workplaces that encourage flexible working demonstrate that they are committed to gender equality. Millennials are not lazy and asking to work less: they just want to have some flexibility.

We don’t believe that we’re entitled to a promotion: rather that we need to learn more and develop our skills to progress. This explains why we value employers who offer us training to help us grow in our roles, so that we are ready for those senior roles when the time comes.

Finally, and this is more of a perk than a purpose, it’s nice to have a sociable workplace. Different groups dedicated to improving diversity, an employee forum, team lunches, sports clubs and maybe even the occasional ceilidh for Burns Night.

So, does it sound like we are ruining the workplace?

I don’t think so. The above doesn’t just benefit millennials but other workers as well. It re-evaluates our workplaces (hopefully) for the better. It even benefits the companies that we work: inspired employees are usually a lot more productive than dissatisfied ones.

If you are reading this and thinking that you want to work for a company that has these qualities but you’re wondering where to start, then check out LinkedIn’s recent study of the 25 best companies to work for in the UK.

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