Millennials and Gen Y: What’s Next for These Upwardly Mobile Workers

Learn how to engage Millennial employees at work, plus tips on how to attract and retain them

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Job hopper or the best employee you’ve ever had? How you structure your workplace and benefits packages can determine whether your Millennial employees stick it out or if it’s a negative stereotype.

The good news? We know so much about this generation we can pin down what they want out of their workplace.

While Millennial turnover costs U.S. businesses $30.5 billion a year, they are more likely to leave because they care deeply about career growth. If you can help these employees find their place at your organization, you’re more likely to retain them.

But hold up. You might be thinking that generational differences don’t really matter. And that’s true — to some extent. While generational groups can still have many similarities in terms of how they work, there are significant differences, too. Benefits, perks, workplace culture, and expectations are all details that tend to be different from generation to generation.

Who are Millennials and Gen Y?

As of 2019, Millennials, also known as Gen Y, have become the largest adult population in the United States, surpassing the Baby Boomers. By 2033, there will be approximately 74.9 million Millennials, with some of them closing in on retirement.

Often called “digital natives”, Millennials are unlike their parents in that they were born into a world of rapidly evolving technology. In other words, they “get” a digital, even remote, workplace.

What is the Millennial and Gen Y age range?

Born between 1982 and 1994, the oldest Gen Y is 39 years old in 2021. The youngest is 27. But this is just one calculation. Some people like to extend this range between 1977 to 1995. No matter which range you use, Millennials are generally in their late twenties to early forties. This means for at least two decades, Millennials will be dominant in the workforce.

What makes Millennials and Gen Y different?

Unlike previous generations, Millennials are technology-ready. They also tend to work longer hours. Over two-thirds of Gen Y workers clock more than 40 hours a week. And 44% would be likely to increase their workload and engagement if managers worked with them frequently and one-third want training. In other words, they are not only hard workers, but they are coachable.

Over two-thirds of Gen Y workers clock more than 40 hours a week.

There are smaller, demographic shifts, too. For example, many Millennial workers have at least a bachelor’s degree. Over half are still single, one in four are parents, and nearly half identify as non-White.

In terms of peer-to-peer interactions and aspirations, Gen Y individuals value collaboration, travel, personal well-being, and new experiences over material items. And unlike their parents or Gen X, Millennials want something more out of the workplace.

What do Millennials and Gen Y want from an employer?

More than anything, Millennials want to feel like they add value to the organization and that they are making a difference. But don’t get caught up in the idea that Gen Y just wants a fluffed-up workplace and a few green spaces. Like any other worker, Millennial employees still care about the money.

A study by ManPower Group found that 92% of Millennials still consider their salary amount to be a top priority when choosing an employer. But that isn’t the only factor. They also look for job security, paid time off, great colleagues, and flexible working options.

Those characteristics are for hiring a Gen Y employee. But if an employer wants to retain them, they need to invest in building trust. Millennials are 22 times more likely to stay with an employer they trust.

In short, the essentials that Millennials are looking for in their next job are:

  • A living wage
  • Health benefits
  • Job security
  • Generous PTO
  • A workplace they are passionate about
  • Flexible working hours
  • Professional development

How to engage Millennials and Gen Y at work?

While Millennial employees can be extremely driven, you need to engage them first. This is where most employers get stuck. According to a recent study, over half of Gen Y workers are not engaged at all. They also change jobs more often than their parents.

The good news is that there are many ways to engage your Millennial employees.

Once you’ve recruited and onboarded your new Gen Y workers, their focus shifts from salary to professional development. In fact, 87% of Millennials want to grow in their careers. Providing opportunities for additional training, seminars, and other upskilling initiatives can be a terrific pull and boost engagement.

You can also engage Millennials workers by giving them more responsibility. Gen Y workers want to feel like they make a difference. Getting them a stake in the company can help boost their interest and increase trust.

What benefits and perks do Millennials and Gen Y want?

According to a survey of 4,000 financial executives and HR professionals, benefits packages are changing. Why? They have listened to the Gen Y workforce in their recruiting and retention offerings. To support Millennial workers, they are adding benefits and perks like:

What else should HR managers know about Millennials and Gen Y?

Being digital natives, Millennials put a lot of emphasis on communication. Creating clear and transparent communication channels can be a big plus and boost productivity. At the same time, Gen Y workers often use social media on the clock, making them excellent for employee advocacy on these programs.

And in addition to being more ethnically diverse, Millennial lifestyles are also extremely varied. As a result, more and more workers want an inclusive work environment. For example, at least a quarter of this generation identifies as vegetarians or vegans. Or a dedicated room for private prayer time. So you’ll want to make sure that your work reflects the needs of your employees.

One last thing: Millennials love feedback and positive reinforcement. You’re more likely to foster trust and retain your Gen Y employees longer if you provide regular feedback loops.

As a bonus, these changes will make it easier for companies to adapt to the upcoming Gen Z workforce, which have more in common with Millennials than earlier generations.

In light of all this, the way forward is clear. If companies want to take advantage of this technology-driven workforce, they need to ensure that their work culture and benefits reflect Millennial needs.

As more and more Millennials become established in the workforce and rise in the ranks, this will become even more essential. As a bonus, these changes will make it easier for companies to adapt to the upcoming Gen Z workforce, which have more in common with Millennials than earlier generations. So what are your next steps? It can help to map out your current recruiting, benefits, and work culture. Survey the Millennials you already have on staff, and make changes accordingly.

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