Last month I celebrated (yes, celebrated!) my 27th year at Manzella Marketing. At the time I started, I was pregnant with my second child, who now has his MBA and has been working for nearly a year at his first “real job.”
The work anniversary made me wonder if my two millennial sons and the rest of their generation will reach a 25+ year anniversary with any employer. After all, millennials are widely regarded as the job-hopping generation, and I’ve certainly said sad goodbyes to a number of them at Manzella through the years.
So, I began to think about what employers can do to foster that kind of loyalty and dedication in younger generations. A 2016 Gallup study, “How Millennials Want to Work and Live”, offered excellent insights and six valuable takeaways for employers.
Gallup’s “Big Six” takeaways that should lead to corporate culture changes
Millennials don’t just work for a paycheck—they want a purpose. In the old days, when boomers (like me) were looking for a job, we wanted a paycheck and were 100% focused on our families. While fair compensation is important to millennials, it isn’t the driver. They want to work for companies and organizations that have a mission and purpose.
Millennials aren’t pursuing job satisfaction—they’re pursuing development. While a lot of us boomers think that millennials want the foosball tables and fancy latte machines that some companies offer in an attempt to create job satisfaction, in reality they don’t. According to the Gallup study, “giving out toys and entitlements is a leadership mistake, and worse, it’s condescending.” Purpose and development fuel millennials in the workplace.
Millennials don’t want bosses—they want coaches. Let’s face it, the word “boss” can have negative connotations. Rather than a traditional boss whose style is command and control, millennials want managers who can mentor and coach them. They want to be valued as both people and employees. In turn, they value managers who help them identify and build their strengths.
Millennials don’t want annual reviews—they want ongoing conversations. You have to admit, this is one we can all get on board with. After all, who really wants an annual review? The Gallup study found that, because millennials now communicate continuously in real-time via texting and social media, they want constant communication and feedback in the workplace, too.
Millennials don’t want to fix their weaknesses—they want to develop their strengths. According to Gallup, this study led to what they believe is “the biggest discovery Gallup or any organization has ever made on the subject of human development in the workplace.” Weaknesses never develop into strengths, while strengths develop infinitely. Of course, Gallup doesn’t advocate ignoring weaknesses. Rather, they recommend cultivating a strengths-based culture that minimizes weaknesses while maximizing strengths.
It’s not just my job—it’s my life. Like the rest of us, millennials want a good job and an organization that values their strengths and contributions. The organizations that will be successful in retaining the brightest and best of any generation will be the ones that give their employees the chance to do what they do best every day.
It will be a quarter of a century before I know whether my own millennials will stay for 27 years at one place of employment. And I celebrate the fact that they have great opportunities, in the same way that I celebrate the opportunity that kept me at Manzella all these years.
As I looked at Gallup’s Big Six, my stereotypical view of millennials as job-hoppers who expect extra benefits and indulgences in the workplace shifted. I believe their values and attitudes can guide positive corporate culture changes that will benefit both workers and employees in every generation.