From hoodies to babies: millennials are growing up and companies need to take note

Millennials are growing up. Not only are they the largest workforce demographic, but the oldest among them are 30-plus, advancing in their careers, earning leadership positions and starting families.

It’s time to retire the popular image of millennials: That of an ambivalent 22-year-old kid in a hoodie. For organizations to effectively recruit, retain and engage today’s best young talent, the way we think about millennials has to grow along with them.

Here, we’ll cover five things millennials want in a job that organizations might be overlooking.

  • Room to Grow 
    Millennials as job-hoppers is the label that won’t die, but there’s good reason for that. A study from Deloitte recently found that two-thirds of millennials expect to move on from their current employer within the next five years. A smart organization is one that doesn’t accept this, and instead finds ways to effectively build loyalty among its best and brightest young talent. When millennials seek feedback, they’re not looking for trophies — they’re looking for mentors, professional development opportunities and support in pursuing leadership roles. Provide these opportunities, which are important to all employees, and millennials become less of a flight risk.
  • Flexibility 
    Pay and compensation are, of course, key motivating factors for millennials when considering employment opportunities. Flexibility and work-life balance aren’t far behind. For this generation, time and experiences are almost as valuable for money. So, whenever you can give employees some control over how they spend their time (without compromising performance and productivity), you’re improving your employee value proposition.
  • Family Care Benefits
    Not only are millennials now the largest workforce demographic, but the number of millennial parents is reaching critical mass — and they’re poised to have a major impact on the work-family equation. Why? Because more millennials are becoming parents every day. In fact, 90 percent of new moms are millennials. Young working moms and dads are entering the workforce on equal footing and want to remain equal partners, sharing breadwinning and caregiving responsibilities more evenly than generations past. In 70 percent of millennial households with children, all parents work. They want, even expect, employers to support that relationship through paid parental leave, child care assistance and other family care benefits. And they’re willing to leave to find this support.
  • Purpose
    Millennials want to connect with the work that they’re doing, and to feel like their contributions are valued. It’s important to see how the work they’re doing connects to the organization’s mission and goals — and if those mission and goals are making a difference in the world, then that’s even better. Millennials want purpose — they want to know that what they’re doing matters. Often they’re willing to find that fulfillment outside of work, and even make that into a career.
  • Innovation
    This is a generation raised on technology. They want to work for a company that’s innovating in its space, but that’s a given. From the work they’re doing to space they’re working in to the tools they use to do their jobs, millennials want their employer to be on the leading edge not playing catch up. Little things, like employees being able to stream their benefits via mobile or bringing in experts to lead forward-thinking professional development, can demonstrate to employees that your organization is embracing innovation. The way organizations have delivered these benefits in the past is not the way millennials expect them to be delivered today. This generation has grown up with resources and answers at their fingertips, and that translates to wanting their employee benefits accessible from anywhere at anytime through technology.

Remember, we can no longer afford to view millennials as the “next generation.” They’re the “now” generation of emerging leaders, shaping the workplace more and more every day. Organizations who can’t effectively recruit, retain and engage this critical population are going to be left behind.

Michael Marty is vice president and general manager of operations and business services.