Developing millennials in the workplace

There is much discussion surrounding the differences between the millennial generation and the generations that joined the workforce before them. They are unique in terms of their expectations and motivations within their working life which has stirred much debate about the best ways to attract, manage and retain such professionals. As highlighted in our article ‘Millennials: today’s workforce and leaders of tomorrow’, by 2025 millennials will make up a significant proportion of the candidate market, which is why understanding what drives millennials professionally is key to securing future talent and the long-term sustainability of any organisation.
Millennials expect to be set up for success, they have different skill sets, perceptions of work and their careers compared to previous generations. These workers want to have a say in how they shape their job and are eager to progress in their careers. They are ready to rule the world, their parents told them they can do it; they can, and will try. By focusing on this group’s key abilities, managers can effectively manage and retain millennial talent.

How millennials work

Millennials are used to working in teams and have a strong desire to excel in their roles. They are tech savvy and naturally strong multitaskers which are skills that should be encouraged with a focus on attention to detail. Having grown up with the internet and digital media, they possess very different views and an ‘out of the box’ way of thinking. These differences should be embraced by managers whilst also challenging their employee’s aspirations and workload.
Described as entitled and impatient in their careers, this generation of professionals have been found to have little loyalty to their employers according to The 2016 Millennial Survey published by Deloitte which revealed 66% of millennials expected to leave their role by 2020. This, however, appears to be changing, with results from The 2017 Millennial Survey showing that fewer millennials are leaving within two years of working in a role and more are choosing to stay for longer than five years. 
It is unclear what has led to this shift though it has been suggested market uncertainty may be having a large influence and that if job confidence were to improve then the job hopping might once again rise. For this reason, it is important to understand millennials’ motivations in the workplace to help ascertain reasons why they may choose to leave an organisation and what would encourage them to stay. 

Managing millennials in the workplace

Managers need to know what makes their team tick. Understanding what drives them, what motivates them to do better and what inspires them to reach their goals is the key to successful and efficient management. The difficult thing is that everyone is unique and no two individuals are exactly alike in terms of their career aspirations and personalities.
However generationally speaking, it has been found that millennials as a group demonstrate very similar, yet also very different motivators within their work life compared to older generations. 
With a strong drive to succeed, millennials look to their managers for guidance and coaching. Good managers will inspire their millennial team members by providing regular performance feedback, encouragement and direction to support them in achieving their objectives. Deloitte’s 2016 report suggests that millennials seek mentors in their workplace and similarly, in 2017 found that they appreciate leaders who are straight-talking and passionate. By offering mentorship programmes you can better engage your team by guiding and encouraging their passion.
Often seen as impatient on their quest for career success, millennials can be greatly motivated by recognition. Offering millennials acknowledgement and reassurance for their work provides them with a way to assess their success. With this in mind, mentoring and performance management, including performance improvement, should be future focused in order to support the longer-term development and self-reflection of millennial team members. 
It has been highlighted by Gallup, in their report “How Millennials Want to Work and Live” that millennials want to receive regular feedback. Scheduling recurrent one-to-one catch-ups with your team members is a simple way of keeping in touch with each individual and providing them with the guidance they seek.
To best engage with millennials from their starting date, roles and responsibilities, along with tasks and expectations, should be clearly defined. Providing clear guidelines on what is expected enables millennials to develop goals that they can strive to achieve. Good leadership means addressing the needs of individuals in terms of their training and balancing this with their day-to-day tasks. Assign more responsibility or offer training to help your team develop their skills and progress their careers.
As the most tech-savvy generation in the workforce, investing in, embracing and enabling this generation with the latest technology and a modern workplace will be a key driver in developing their potential. Research by global strategy consulting firm L.E.K. reveals that millennials use up to 18 hours of ‘new media’ each week. Opening the field of digital communication to facilitate recognition will become an effective method to motivate this digital generation. Millennials are especially skilful in social media and networking, and this is their preferred pathway of communication.
A topic which is increasingly popular among the wider workforce is also a top priority for millennials, with a good work/life balance ranked as the most important factor above opportunities to progress in Deloitte's 2016 research. Not only is this a workplace benefit that millennials actively seek, but findings from the 2017 report suggest that organisations offering some form of flexible working arrangement are linked with improved performance and employee retention.
Millennials look beyond the mere salary on offer when considering a job and deciding whether to stay or leave an organisation. Instead, based on Deloitte’s research on those most likely to remain in their positions, millennial’s decisions are more often determined by factors such as whether or not they feel a sense of purpose in the role.
Millennials want to feel they are valued and that they are directly contributing to a larger goal. By ensuring you make use of each individual’s unique skills, encourage them to get involved in wider projects to explore a variety of experiences and create a collaborative working team you will simultaneously develop an environment that is supportive and inclusive.


If you are able to offer a position and working culture that has a clear, meaningful purpose along with a pathway for career advancement which enables a positive work/life balance you will be in a good position to attract millennials into your team. For your existing employees that fit into this generation, embrace their desire to excel through offering mentoring schemes, stay current with advances in technology and new processes whilst ensuring your organisation promotes corporate transparency and responsibility. High trust environments where flexible working is offered increases the level of accountability, and in turn responsibility, that employees must manage. Motivated millennials have the potential to be one of the most productive generations to enter the workforce; providing strong leadership combined with an awareness and understanding of your team’s key abilities, and skills will ensure they are.  
If you would like any further information or discuss how we can help with your recruitment needs, please get in touch today.
Marcus Johnson 
T: +44 118 955 9047