According to an article on CNBC this week, this year millennials will surpass baby boomers and GenXers to become the largest generation in the American workforce. Adults age 18 to 34 now make up 1 in 3 American workers. There have been numerous articles, seminars and training sessions built around how to effectively lead and work with different generations in the work force. At every conference I’ve gone to in the past 3 to 5 years, there has been at least one session on the issue and at each of those sessions, there is always at least one person in the room that seems frustrated with their millennial generation employees and trying to “figure them out”.
So what are the current issues important to millennials? According to the Hartford’s 2014 Millennial Leadership Survey, millennials noted that work-life balance (or more importantly work-life integration) stood as one of the top issues of importance. Millennials also want to know that their work is a place of growth and development, and they are accustomed to open communication and accessibility.
As a millennial myself, I happen to agree with the above survey results, and I have witnessed the impact of my generation within the company I work for. When career and advancement paths were not clearly defined or established within my firm, I personally asked for that clarification so I could understand my opportunities for advancement and how I could go about getting there. Now, career paths are defined and documented for everyone to see. What was once mandatory Saturdays during tax season turned into a flexible work schedule where the staff could work which days and hours they pleased as long as the hours were met.
Not every millennial meets the stereotype of a millennial, and the best way to find out what is important to your employees of any generation is to simply ask. I have found that my generation is usually more than willing to be honest and open with what priorities are important to us.