Expert Opinion

5 approaches for making Millennials happy at work

    It is an open secret: Millennials, or the Y and Z generations, are very much drawn to entrepreneurship, but suspicious of the corporate world. Many 18-35 year-olds dream of being their own boss, but not all of them will turn out to be that. Like their elders, most of them will join a company as an employee. So, how can we take advantage of their thirst for setting up in business, their appetite for innovation, and their creativity? What can enterprises, which must above all reinvent themselves, do to motivate Millennials, make them dream, and fulfill themselves professionally? Here are five approaches for winning them over:

    1. Give meaning and direction to the work

    Millennials want to precisely understand their mission and reason for being at work, since they expect much of themselves and others. Thus, every manager must behave like a coach. The classical style of the boss who gives orders and supervises is a thing of the past. 18-35 year-olds want a manager who understands, supports, and advises them: a Mentor, capable of revealing their talents and making their passions a reality.

    2. Set them challenges to stimulate them, because for them, everything is possible!

    "They did not know that it was impossible, so they did it", wrote Mark Twain. These words are fitting for the Y and Z generations, being ultra-connected and trying their hand at anything. To motivate these "Digital Natives" and satisfy their curiosity, there is nothing like entrusting them with varied tasks and giving them the possibility of exploring related job positions within the enterprise. Doing this will make them more multi-disciplined.

    Also, it is better to waste no time in throwing juniors in at the deep end. Using new technologies is part of their daily lives. Driven by innovation, they keep themselves fully up to speed with the latest digital developments. They have a taste for rising to the challenges of their generation, like that of training seniors in the enterprise's digital transformation. After all, today, the passing on of skills works, and needs to work, in both directions …

    3. Constantly put them in a learning situation

    With the advances in Artificial Intelligence, in twenty years' time half of the jobs that currently exist risk disappearing, we are told. Millennials have an innate awareness of this, because from a very young age they became used to accelerated technological mutations. They are not afraid of constantly positioning themselves as students to renew their knowledge and expertise. They know that doing so is a matter of economic and social survival. Hence the craze for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), preferably accessible on mobile. Even though these online courses are not designed to replace continuing in-service training, they enable Millennials to progress or to take stock of their knowledge in what are sometimes highly-specialized fields, but without having to reorganize their working time.

    4. Promote a flexible and collaborative working environment

    Millennials generally do not have the same priorities as previous generations. They relate differently to work. So it is that few of them aim to advance within the same company throughout their professional life, or to have a high salary, but to the detriment of their private life. Being ultra-flexible because they are ultra-connected, they really appreciate a caring company that remains attentive to their individual demands: the possibility of doing teleworking, having a side activity as a "micro-entrepreneur", taking sabbatical leave to do a round-the-world trip or become involved in activities for the benefit of society, etc.

    5. Give meaning to their actions

    In the eyes of 18-35 year-olds, work must have meaning and the company, values. Receiving a salary at the end of the month is no longer enough. Millennials are very keen to work for enterprises that play their part in changing things, even the world.
    They are also thrill seekers and in search of meaning. To break the routine, there is nothing like adrenaline-pumping situations (events, digital buzz, viral trends, disruptive innovations, etc.). They have often experienced adrenaline rushes in adolescence, notably with video games, and most of them want to re-experience that feeling and excitement in their job.

    The economic, political, and environmental challenges facing us today are immense. Enterprises have a leading role to play in meeting these challenges. Their ability to adapt to the demands of young workers is now one of the key factors in their successful transformation. These Millennials represent the leading force that enterprises have to make them renew themselves quickly and effectively. Digital Natives are also the catalysts for the digital enterprise, capable of ensuring a new balance between economic performance and well-being at work.


    Eric Cohen

    Founder, President & CEO of Keyrus