What Millennials Want In The Workplace

Let’s face it — It’s 2015 now and we’ve entered a new era where millennials have adequately breached the workplace. No, scratch that. Millennials are taking over the workplace and every CEO on earth is trying to figure out how to attract this new breed and how to prove they have exactly what millennials want in the workplace.

I feel the need to assert my position here, before I go any further: I AM a millennial—that is, an individual born between the years 1980 and 2000. I am speaking from my own point-of-view, and YES, I do want to bombard your workplace with my ideas, and methods and visions. BUT, I have also been raised by parents who taught me the importance of respecting my elders (that’s truly not meant to be a dig), and I’m of the opinion that collaboration is key, and we, millennials still have much to learn.

What Millennials Want in the Workplace

Source: bncollege 2014

Take it from a millennial point-of-view.

We’ve invaded your office buildings — with our diplomas, certificates and degrees in tow — we’ve broken down the walls of your quartered-off cubicles and stocked your communal fridges with Kombucha for the morning and beers and ciders for the afternoon. We’ve replaced your rolling “power” chairs with brightly coloured bean bags and when we’re having a mental block, we work through it over a ping-pong battle with a colleague.

We’ve made the unconventional workspace a conventional workplace that aids in our creative process. We’re a different breed, with a different mindset, and with the massive craze in “Startup Culture,” (millennials LOVE culture) adapting to the millennial way of thinking will be crucial for big or already established companies to keep up with the times and keep the new generation motivated. Already, millennials represent roughly 50% of the workforce, and by 2020, we can expect that number to increase to a whopping 75%.

In his Inc.com article, “How Millennials Think And What To Do About It,” Hubspot CEO and co-founder, Brian Halligan, explains the four key differences between the millennial generation Y gang, the corporate minded gen-X and the baby boomers, offering insight into what exactly we, millennials, want when we’re humming-and-hawing over accepting that job offer or making a risky career move.

1. Money vs. Mission

When our parents were embarking on their career paths, they favored jobs that provided financial security, good benefits, and a pretty pension plan. Take for instance my mother, a flamboyantly independent woman who wound up as a procurement agent for a large Canadian oil and gas company. Go figure. When asked about her procurement stint, she says it was, “dry, and boring…but it was better than no job, and at that time, we needed the financial security.”

What Millennials Want in the Workplace

This is obviously not my mother (it is, more obviously, power-woman, Lena Dunham) but look how dry and boring her job is.  Source: Pandodaily 2013

These days, however, millennials are less motivated by the paycheck at the end of their work week and more motivated by their mission—whether it be their own personal mission or a collective company mission. Compound that with the fact that internships (millennials will actually work for free for a set amount of time) are becoming more popular and more important to the millennial resume and it’s a major bonus if their internship meshes with their mission.

2. OCD vs. ADD

While generation X and baby boomers geared their focus towards moving up a career ladder and job stability, millennials have a more ADD approach to their career strategy: they enjoy learning new things and grasp new concepts quickly, they’re motivated by constantly taking on new challenges and as a result, according to a recent survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers, 91% of millennials will transition into new jobs and new endeavors within 3 years.

Ask my boyfriend why he left a seemingly perfect gig—unlimited vacation, the ability to work remote, and flexible hours—and he’ll tell you it wasn’t about the perks (although, he did love them), it was about following his passion; he’ll tell you it was because he craved new challenges; he’ll tell you it was because he wanted to be part of a very young and small team working their butts off to build a company from the ground up; he’ll tell you he was following his gut and chasing his dream.

3. Place vs. Idea

After years of staking the cubicle-formed office as an archetype for the “conventional” workspace, millennials have re-envisioned a more collaborative workplace with open-plan offices that encourage colleague interaction (like boardroom ping-pong breaks and lunchtime yoga sessions). Camaraderie amongst employees is a must for cultivating company culture, and it’s something that’s high on our wish list when we’re considering new job opportunities.

We seek flexibility in scheduling and aren’t afraid to work in a park, in a Starbucks, on a train, plane or bus, or even from the comfort of our bed if it bodes well with the boss. It’s one of the main reasons that startups are such an attractive venture for us: there are often few regulations that are actually set in stone, and we get to be part of setting the tone, adapting the schedule and creating a routine that’s conducive to productivity vs. punching a clock.

What Millennials Want in the Workplace

Source: Shutterstock 2014

4. Rules vs. Judgement

Millennials are adults now. And we want to be treated as such, with the respect and trust bestowed to any other working professional. We don’t like rules (they were made to be broken, weren’t they?), but rather prefer a simple set of guidelines: be respectful, get your work done, restock the beer fridge. Let us use our own good judgement for everything else.

For all you baby-boomers and gen-Xers out there, co-habitating with us millennials may seem daunting at first (like having your teenaged son or daughter suddenly running the roust), but by combining our collective knowledge, we might all be surprised by the creative outcomes produced. Millennials are the bosses and CEO’s of our future (heck, some millennials are the bosses and CEO’s of our present), and adapting the millennial mindset into your current company culture will only benefit your business tomorrow.

How millennial are you? Click HERE to take the quiz.


Reanne DerksonI am a writer from Regina, SK, with the heart of a traveler and an entrepreneurial spirit. After graduating from the University of Victoria’s Fine Arts Writing Program, I spent two wild years working for a startup in Vancouver, BC, where I learned the in’s and out’s of startup life and added some business jargon to my ever-growing lexicon. Today, I am a freelancer, writing my way into the world, seeking out anything and everything that lights my fire and inspires me. I have been previously published by Live Young and Free Magazine, Penduline Press Literary Journal, Gravel: a literary magazine, Elite Daily, The Martlet, This Side of West: an anthology of deep and meaningfuls, and more.

To read more of my work, please visit www.reannederkson.com

Twitter: @loveleighree

Read more about and from the author: Reanne’s WiLab Profile