What Do Millennials Want in a Job?

Many stereotypes exist about millennials, particularly when it comes to how they work. Some employers fall into the trap of thinking they can woo millennials with a dog-friendly office building stocked with fair trade coffee and craft beer. Sure, those little perks are nice; however, research from Harvard Business Review finds millennials seek much more from a job than pool tables and standing desks. So what do millennials care about?

Learning and growth

More so than baby boomers and gen-xers, millennials want jobs offering opportunities to learn and grow. They are in the early stages of their careers. They’re still figuring out what they want to do in the long run and what talents they have to offer. They want employers to come alongside them in their professional development.

Contrary to the stereotypes, millennials want to commit to a job and a manager that invests in them. They seek an employment situation where their knowledge, skills, and abilities are enhanced through their job duties and by formal and informal professional development offerings.

Great managers develop their employees. These managers know they can get more done when they have growing employees. These managers aren’t threatened by stellar employees. Rather, they see their employees’ success as their own success.

Opportunity for advancement

Many millennials are saddled with crushing student debt, so it makes sense they’re quick to move to a new job where the pay is better. According to a Gallup study, half of millennials said they would consider accepting a position with another employer for a raise of 20% or less. So despite the risk of being perceived by hiring managers as job hoppers, millennials search for advancement both with their current organizations and with other companies.

There’s an old business joke about a conversation between two C-level executives in a company. One says, “What happens if we invest in developing our people, and they leave us?” The other responds, “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

The conundrum is all too real for today’s employers. You spend time, money, and effort developing an employee — say, a millennial — and you risk that person walking out the door when he or she becomes more marketable to competitors. This doesn’t mean you stop developing employees. It means you make your company a more desirable place to stay. A big part of that for millennials is offering advancement opportunities.

It can also help to view your employees as consumers of your workplace. Are they happy? How willing are they to convert to the competition? It follows the paradigm Southwest Airlines follows. Take care of your employees, so they can take care of the customer.

Interest in their work

Millennials want to be interested in their work. While this is important for all generations, it is particularly important for millennials and baby boomers. Gen-xers want it to a lesser degree.

As an employer, you can set yourself from the competition when you recruit, hire, and retain employees who are interested in your work. Another Gallup study found most employees are disengaged at work, and millennials lead all generations with 71% saying they are either not engaged or are actively disengaged in their jobs.

Giving millennials what they want

You need millennials in your company. It makes sense to do things that will attract them and retain them. Give millennials looking for jobs opportunities to learn and grow, chances to advance within the company, and interesting work. Doing these three things can give you a clear edge when building your workforce.