10 Traits You Need to Know About Millennial Workers

Four professionals gathered at a table looking at an iPad and taking notes

Millennials are defined as the generation born between roughly 1981 and 1996. By 2025, they are expected to make up 75% of the global workforce, so it is critical that you craft your recruitment strategy with this segment of the population in mind. To do this, you will need to understand what makes them tick. 

Here, we are addressing some common stereotypes about millennial workers and sharing 10 researched-backed traits to know about if you want to successfully recruit and retain millennials.

Are Millennials Lazy and Entitled?

I am sure most of you have heard this annoying stereotype, and if you are a millennial, maybe you have even rolled your eyes and blamed it on out-of-touch people making exaggerations based on a few limited interactions. It is easy to dismiss such claims, but still you must wonder, is there a grain of truth to it?

It is no secret that a large portion of this generation has a negative workplace reputation. If you Google “millennials in the workplace”, a slew of posts about engagement and motivation will fill your screen. How did millennials earn the stereotype?

As a millennial who manages other millennials, I confess that we, at times, have done things to earn these stereotypes, but I believe a lot of the blowback comes from generational and societal differences. Most of the generations that have come before us were taught to finish school and immediately enter a career, and there were few who wavered from that path. 

Now, we are seeing parents encouraging their children to travel and take time off prior to entering the 9-to-5 (and how many people still actually work 9 to 5, anyway?). Our parents reprioritized our lives and activities so we did not miss important social events. Our upbringing reinforced the value of living in the moment and worrying less about the future, because we saw firsthand that the world around us could change in an instant. These realities are by no means a knock on the previous generations or millennials—in fact, they have the potential to drive greater dedication and innovation. 

Ultimately, we are seeing workplaces become less homogenous and more valuing of individuality, which, together with upbringing, has encouraged younger workers to aggressively pursue their dreams. For employers who can harness millennials’ goal-seeking mentality, this can be quite a powerful force. 

Related: How To Manage Millennials Vs. Baby Boomers In The Workplace

Traits of Millennials Employers Need to Know

Millennials Embrace Technology and Expect the Same of Their Employer

The formative years for millennials were defined by the technological revolution of the 1980s and 1990s. They grew up playing educational games in middle school and developing profiles on social media in high school. 

When entering the workforce, many millennials do not simply approve of a company using social media (and allowing their workers to use it), they actually insist on it. For example, surveys show that more than 55 percent of millennials say they would not accept a job from a company that prohibits the use of social media. 

Millennial workers simply disagree with the notion that social media is a drain on productivity during the workday. Millennials possess a firm grasp on how to use social media platforms and tools to build and cultivate relationships, crowdsource solutions, and research important information.

Millennials Want Their Work to Have Meaning

Multiple surveys and studies show that millennial workers are always on the lookout for a position that provides more “meaning” to their lives. This leads to an important question – how exactly does a millennial define “meaningful” work? 

Well, a survey was conducted by Fast Company where they interviewed an array of millennial workers. The survey results revealed that “meaningful” work is when an employee can (i) share their gifts, (ii) impact the lives of others in their local community, and (iii) have a career that leads to a high quality of life.

Millennials Are Comfortable Challenging Hierarchical Leadership Structures

Many millennials are not afraid to offer their personal opinions and ideas to corporate leadership. They are also not shy about challenging their superiors and “disrupting” how things have always been done. 

This trait does not come from a disdain for authority. Instead, many millennials believe that the best way for a company to grow is to respect and listen to the point of view of all its workers.  They prefer a cross-functional way of working that transcends the constraints of rank; genuinely believing this is better for the business than blindly following orders passed down from the top of the totem pole.

Millennials Are Comfortable with Change in the Workplace

In many instances, millennials understand and are comfortable with, the fact that the business world and technology landscape is in a constant state of fluctuation. This can mean they are more adaptable to change and embrace innovation more than their more senior colleagues. 

The Boss Needs to Be a Friend

Many millennials prefer that their manager be closer to a mentor or friend as opposed to someone who simply serves in a supervisory capacity. They want to feel comfortable asking their manager for feedback and advice.

Task-Oriented Projects Are Preferable

Surveys indicate that nearly 70 percent of millennials believe that being in an office on a regular 9 to 5 basis is unnecessary. The vast majority of millennials prefer setting their own schedule and having a level of ownership on when and where they work. They are very comfortable telecommuting and do not object to working late at night or on the weekend if it means more control over when and how their work gets done.

Millennials Want to Learn and Grow

Many millennials report that they are eager to continue expanding their skills, gaining knowledge, and attaining new certifications and milestones within the workplace. Millennials often ask “why” in addition to asking “how” a particular task is done.

Millennials Appreciate Constructive Feedback

Surveys indicate that many millennial workers like to receive frequent and constructive feedback from the leadership within their company. They prefer not to wait for a mid-year review. Instead, they enjoy feedback interspersed throughout the year, so they can have clarity on how they are performing on a day-by-day basis.

Millennials Value Being Recognized for Their Contributions

Many millennial workers expect and value recognition within the workplace. This is because they have a deep desire for approval and seek indicators from leadership that their work product is making a difference within the company.

Millennials Value Company Events and Non-Work-Related Gatherings

Millennials find business value in bonding with teammates and taking a break for creative inspiration. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of millennials prefer that their workplace be “fun” and “sociable.”

How to Harness These Traits to Attract the Best Workers

When utilizing these traits as a hiring roadmap, there are certain action steps a company can, and should, take in order to make themselves more attractive to millennial workers:

  • Offer mentoring and coaching opportunities for millennial workers.  One strategy would be to implement a defined mentorship program in place when a millennial employee first joins the company.
  • Establish clear targets and offer consistent and constructive feedback. As mentioned, millennial workers welcome and appreciate detailed feedback from corporate leadership. A good strategy is to have an evaluation structure in place for specific projects that take place throughout the year.
  • Emphasize a work environment that appreciates continuous learning and training. Millennial workers crave to work in a place that offers on-going learning opportunities. For example, survey responses indicate that many millennial workers are attracted to companies that offer high-quality training and development programs.

Related: Tips To Effectively Recruit and Retain Millennial Workers

Looking for a Talented Millennial t0 Join Your Company? Contact 4 Corner Resources

4 Corner Resources serves as the staffing agency of choice for companies throughout Florida and across the United States. Contact our team today to speak with a client manager about how our company can source or attract, screen, and place the right candidates for your business.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn