What millennials expect in the workforce

Organizations need to adapt and understand what millennials want in a work environment.

By Andrea Olson, Pragmadik May 21, 2018

There’s one question that is frequently asked about millennials: Why do they move from city to city and change jobs every few years?

Everyone has their theory. Some people blame it on youth, the lack of attention spans due to social media, unrealistic expectations and dissatisfaction with not advancing in an organization fast enough, or to gain new experiences. There’s no question these are influential factors, but inherently, there’s one underlying reason.

Identity preservation

Every new generation develops and creates its own identity. Rebellion from the mainstream during a time of discovery in their lives helps establish a generation’s identity and individuality. Today’s millennials are no different.

Their outlook and attitude are also heavily influenced by what they’ve seen and experienced as they grew up. Observing their parents and peers and then making active decisions on what behavior they want to mimic—and what they want to avoid.

Millennials have aspirations, a bundle of ideas, and the belief that they can change the world. Many organizations are ill-equipped to channel and harness that energy. They focus on getting new employees to drink the corporate "Kool-Aid." Become part of the organizational culture. Blend into the existing behaviors and mindsets.

Millennials see it another way. They want to learn and make an impact, but they don’t want to become part of a hive mind. While it’s important for an organization to function uniformly and have a common vision, it doesn’t mean employees need to lose their individual identities. 

So how do millennials respond to organizations they join that try to assimilate them into the status quo?

  • Millennials will move and change to avoid groupthink.

  • Millennials have lived in an environment with quick access to information and feedback and will remove themselves from organizations that function at a slower pace.

  • Millennials are used to constant change and will leave organizations resistant to change.

  • Millennials have high expectations in regard to communication and will seek organizations that allow them to voice opinions and actively respond to implement and test new ideas.

So, are these expectations really out of line? Is it a bad idea to bring in new ideas and perspectives into an organization and help it flourish? Fostering a culture of change? Or has your organization become culturally complacent because business is profitable? These are things to consider, as the next transformative business idea just might come out of the mouths of babes.

Andrea Olson is the founder and CEO of Pragmadik. Olson’s 20-year, field-tested background provides unique, applicable approaches to creating leaner, more effective, and customer-driven industrial organizations. A four-time ADDY award-winner, Olson began her career at a tech startup and led the strategic marketing efforts at two global industrial manufacturers.

In addition to writing, consulting, and coaching, Olson speaks to leaders and industry organizations around the world on how to craft effective customer-facing operational strategies to discover new sources of revenues and savings.