Understanding Millennials in the Workplace

It’s estimated that by 2020, almost half of the workforce will be made up of Millennials. With this in mind, employers must understand the differences between this younger demographic entering the workforce and the ones that have come before them, if they want to attract and retain top quality employees.

There’s plenty of positives about Millennials. They’ve grown up in a digital world and globalisation, it’s all they know. The challenges are also there. Millennials are likely to be impatient, expecting everything at the touch of their two thumbs. Here’s some vital information to keep in mind when planning your future team.

Digital natives

Having grown up with technology so ingrained in their lives it comes as no real surprise that 83% of Millennials say they sleep with their smartphone. It is also no surprise that a new phenomenon of sleep texting now exists – true!

Having technology as such an intrinsic part of their lives means Millennials are changing the way they work. They’re constantly switched on, the lines between personal and professional lives are blurred and the office is with them at all times- 54% of Millennials state they feel like they are “always on” due to technology in the workplace.

Because of this, the next generation is looking for more flexibility- the regular 9-5 office grind is being questioned and with the ability to work anywhere at any time, comes the expectation for more freedom to achieve the perfect work/life balance.

Spoilt for choice

The younger generations are spoilt for choice. Constantly being globally connected means the world is literally at their fingertips and the touch of a button brings forward a magnitude of opportunities.

With such an array of choices available to them, it’s no surprise that younger generations are job-hopping more than ever. Research from The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) suggests that today’s young people are likely to experience 17 jobs across five different careers.

The rise of the gig economy and entrepreneurial start-ups alongside automation means the emerging labour force is having to adapt to new changes in the world of work.

While this means brand new opportunities in industries that may not even exist yet and the development of skills that will align to a variety of occupations, it’s not all good news.

For employers, job-hopping is less than ideal – lost productivity, recruitment fees and the cost of retraining can be expensive. However, it’s important to look at why job-hopping is occurring.

Research highlights that the majority of young people rank job security as highly important. What this suggests is that rather than actively seeking to leave their employer, the next generation is becoming overwhelmed with the sheer amount of choice and is responding to changes in the workforce – making it difficult to attach themselves to one specific pathway or career.

To combat this, businesses need to look for ways that the next generation can grow and develop within their company and offer them opportunities for progression. Indicating pathway opportunities at the beginning is a great idea when first employing a Millennial, as well as regularly teaching them new skills.


Millennials value authenticity. They have grown up in a dramatically changing world and their futures, particularly in the workplace, are uncertain. Having such easy access to the internet has meant they have been able to bypass much of traditional advertising and delve into more authentic media; they are constantly questioning the information being fed to them.

This search for authenticity carries into the workplace and the younger generations are looking to feel genuinely connected to their work and their colleagues.

Findings from the Millennial Compass Report suggest that Millennials want to view their boss or manager as their “friend”; perceiving them more as a peer, coach or mentor. On top of this, research from Robert Walter Whitepaper suggests an inclusive and social workplace culture is incredibly important with a third of Millennials saying they felt that meeting their colleagues in a social setting was the most important part of their workplace induction.


While the younger generation is thought to be obsessed with selfies and their phones, they’re often behind driving huge social changes. A report by Deloitte reveals that 84% of Millennials consider it their duty to make the world a better place. Although they’re not the first generation to be concerned with social issues, their drive to “change the world” combined with their tech savviness allows them to affect change and definitely shouldn’t be underestimated – especially in the workforce.

Acting ethically is reflected in Millennials career choices and the next generation want to feel like their work is making a difference in the world and their talent is being harnessed for something positive. According to a study by The Society for Human Resource Management, 94% of Millennials want to use their skills to benefit a cause.

This means that a key part of attracting and retaining top talent in the younger demographic is ensuring your business is genuine and positive with its interactions with social issues. Emphasising your purpose and the positive impacts your business can make in  the community is a great way to engage Millennials.

Need for instant gratification

With the rise of technology and choice, the younger generations are exposed to a world where feedback to any sort of decision is instantaneous. While this has impacts on areas such as social media usage and shopping habits, it also has massive ramifications in Millennials careers.

Not only do the younger generations want fast feedback and recognition for their work, they also expect their career timeline to progress much faster than in the past. Positive reinforcement is hugely important and they need to receive recognition for a job well done to feel valued.

Simon Sinek, a motivational speaker, went viral earlier this year for his video addressing this:


Offering personal commentary on why the younger generations are unhappy, Sinek suggests that the need for instant gratification is a core part of why the younger generations are increasingly dissatisfied in all aspects of life – work included.

“You’ve grown up in a world of instant gratification. Fantastic for shopping but terrible for love and for jobs,” he says.

It’s important for businesses to recognise these aspects and find ways to adapt to the demographic that is beginning to make up a large portion of the workforce.

Positive Change

Harnessing the positives that Millennials bring to the workplace is also something employers should pay heed to. What’s not to like about work/life balance, technical savviness and authenticity? Allowing the influence of younger generations to pioneer change in your workplace for the better –everyone wins with that kind of progression!

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