Seven Things CEOs Need to Know About Millennials

Whether you’re a CEO or a hiring manager, the future of your company’s success largely depends on building a good rapport with your millennial workforce. And even if you think you’re doing a good job attracting and retaining young talent, a recent PWC report found that it might not be as good as you think. In fact, millennials and the older corporate leadership they work for don’t always see eye to eye.

Let’s take a look at seven key findings as revealed in “Millennials at Work, Reshaping the Workplace,” and what CEOs need to know in order to speak the language of your younger employees.

  1. Benefits: It’s not all about the “Benjamins.” When Millennial employees were asked what they value most from an employer, you may be surprised to learn that money wasn’t most important. In fact, cash bonuses came in third with training and development and flexible work hours taking first and second place respectively. What’s more revealing is that almost three quarters (73%) of millennials favor the notion of being able to customize their benefits packages to better suit their individual needs.

How to respond: Get creative and shift the focus from cash bonuses to other non-monetary benefits that appeal to the millennial lifestyle. Additionally, some employers are offering perks like tuition reimbursement, wellness programs and company-sponsored outings to better serve their millennial workforce.

  1. They want to be challenged. This generation wants to know that their job offers personal learning and development opportunities above everything else. They also want to feel confident that when accepting a new position, there will be opportunities for advancement within the organization. In fact, 52% said it would make a prospective employer more attractive.

How to respond: Millennials want to feel important and know that they are making meaningful contributions. Invite people from different departments to join new project teams and committees to offer a variety of experiences and learning opportunities. 

  1. A pat on the back goes a long way. One of the strongest traits of many millennials is the desire of frequent feedback from their superiors, especially praise for a job well done. As the survey indicated, 51% said feedback should be given very frequently or continually.

How to respond: A yearly employee review is not enough. Managers should allocate time to meet with their staff members regularly and consistently to review short-term goals, progress toward achieving those goals and to offer constructive feedback and praise as appropriate.

  1. They aren’t impressed with your diversity. Generally speaking, millennials think you can do better when it comes to promoting equal opportunity in the workplace. More than half (55%) of respondents agreed that even though organizations discuss diversity, not everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.

How to respond: Consider if there really is a gap between your diversity efforts and workplace dynamics. Then, make concerted effort to hire more diverse candidates by enlarging your pool of potential applicants. In addition, make it clear in your corporate language and culture that inclusivity and respect for others is paramount.

  1. They think you’re stuck in your ways. Millennials are continually calling out company leaders for their “old-school,” and outdated management styles. More than 40% of millennials surveyed felt their use of technology was not always understood or appreciated.

How to respond: Does your IT policy need an upgrade? Today’s younger workers live in a digital world; and therefore, like to do some of their work activities and communicate on those devices and platforms as well. To create a more tech-friendly workplace, encourage your millennial employees to participate in company social media efforts or introduce easy-to-use collaboration apps like Slack to staffers.

  1. They’re sensitive about what older workers think of them. Millennials sometimes get a bum rap and at work, 38% think it might have something to do with the inability of older senior management to relate to them. Whether it’s rigid hierarchies and outdated management styles (cited by 65% of survey respondents,) or not understanding the way millennials use technology (46%,) they feel misunderstood by older colleagues.

How to respond: Managing a multi-generational workforce is not easy, but it can be done with better communication and keeping an open mind to different work styles. Strong leadership and a transparent performance management system can help ensure everyone is treated fairly and with respect.

  1. They’re loyal, but only to a point. Many millennials (38%) admit that they are keeping an eye out for new opportunities even when they are not actively seeking a new position. In other words, if they feel their talents are being wasted or that their needs are not being met, they won’t hesitate to move on to other opportunities.

How to respond: Regular check-ins with employees, keeping them engaged with new projects, and even small tokens or words of appreciation and career development opportunities can help encourage millennials to stay the course.

Millennials are hard workers who strive to please their bosses and make a meaningful impact on their organizations. By playing to those strengths and understanding how to communicate and motivate younger workers, company leaders can help create a workplace that’s attractive to the new generation and beyond.



– By Meghan M. Biro