What millennials expect from work

The workforce entry and dominance of millennials in the workplace is going to create significant changes in the way companies do business.

5 mins read

Millennials around the world are coming of age and streaming into the workplace and transforming company cultures. Though there are a variety of opinions on this generation, the future of work is already heavily influenced by their transition into the workforce. They’re highly creative, social, technologically savvy, environmentally conscious, and ambitious. On the back of a digital, data-led economy, millennials have proven to drive exponential business growth and steer disruption across sectors.

On the other hand, they have been labeled to be impatient with the ‘old-fashioned’ nine to five workdays, manual offline processes, and hierarchical management structures. They are generally challenging the status quo, however, there’s no avoiding them. Given that millennials are expected to comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025, unlocking opportunity within the millennial workforce is one area that cannot be overlooked.

Here are ways you can look to the millennials to help forecast the future of work and develop strategies that speak directly to the way they work, communicate, and engage;

Flexible work/life


A good work/life balance is among the top priorities for millennials when choosing a job. That same saturation with communication technologies that earns millennials the label of digital natives has also taught them how hard it can be to “turn off.” When your mobile phone is your work phone and an office email can appear on your smart watch at any time, the traditional nine-to-five schedule can take on the dreamlike aura of a bygone time in which it was once possible to keep work-life enjoyably distinct from personal life.

In reaction, many millennials have pushed back against the “always-on” expectations at their jobs and advocated for better work/life balance in their careers, which makes sense. Millennials want to work in a way that suits their lifestyle. This means being able to travel more should they want to, or working from home more often if they have a family.

As we reach a generational tipping point that sees more millennials in leadership positions, expect them to introduce more workplace policies that contribute to employee happiness, particularly ones that increase self-autonomy and protect work/life balance.

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The workforce of the future likes getting things done quickly and the millennials are generally looking for more decentralized environments where they can decide how work gets done. They are easily frustrated by business processes that prevent them from managing their work schedules. Applying for leave is a classic example. The standard process involves email requests and waiting for confirmation from the HR department. Millennials don’t see the point and would rather just manage their leave themselves. They want to be in that position where they can book their leave days online and the system will automatically alert their managers to review and approve the requests. It’s a quick, efficient, and transparent process that gives employees more autonomy and control.

Career development

Nothing is more off-putting to a millennial than a dead-end job. This generation is ambitious and impatient to progress. The millennial workforce is committed to advancing its career and does not want to wait three or more years for a promotion. They don’t want to be micro-managed in a role with no future, they want to be mentored and grow. They want to be fulfilled by their work – and the happier they are in their jobs, the better they’ll work.

They more than appreciate smaller but well-deserved incentives such as bonuses, certificates of a job well done, and similar rewards that validate their performance. Additionally, cross-functional training courses that help expand their pool of knowledge and extend expertise in other functions also help boost morale at work.


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