What Motivates Millennials in the Workforce Today


I have been presenting keynotes on Millennials and the generations in the workplace for nearly 10 years now. I can remember back in 2008 when there were just a handful of Millennials in the crowd. Today, my audiences are filled with professionals aged 36 and under, while the number of Millennials in the workplace continues to increase.

This “New Workforce” is close to half of the US workforce and they are shaking things up and changing the world of work. It is important that we understand this dynamic group and move forward. We are discovering that Millennials in the workforce are seeking a multi-dimensional lifestyle that satisfies both their work and personal lives. They are definitely impatient and want to proceed along their career paths more rapidly than Boomers and even Gen Xers.

Top Motivators for Millennials in the Workforce

To understand what motivates Millennials and how to work with and manage them, you need to consider what they value:

  • Challenge

    They want to work on demanding projects with an engaged team that care about the outcome, embraces complexity. One of their biggest complaints is they are bored and feel underutilized. They do not want to do the smaller tasks, after all that’s why we have interns.

  • Learning

    They want to gain knowledge from a variety of tasks, so they can grow their careers quickly.

  • Career goals

    They want to be able to see their future and their career path in your organization.

  • Feedback

    Millennials want feedback on how they are doing. They want to hear it often, but it does not have to be in a formal setting. The annual review won’t cut it with the new workforce.

  • Flexibility 24/7

    Technology makes it possible to work from anywhere, anytime. Therefore, Millennials expect some level of flexibility at work. Working remotely all of the time isn’t feasible for every situation, but Millennials expect companies to be flexible enough to allow them to occasionally dictate their own schedules.

  • Tap into Social Platforms

    Millennials are social beings; use social platforms to grow your organization’s employee brand.

  • Results Oriented Flexibility

    Evaluate Millennials on their finished work; not on how, when, or where the work is done.

  • Transparency

    Millennials want to know how their performance will be measured. They like structures and systems, and they want to understand by what metrics they will be judged.

  • Access

    they want open and constant communication from their boss (and their boss’ boss, and so on)

  • Social Interaction

    Millennials want to have friends at work, and they want the workplace to be a pleasant and social place. They prefer to work on teams rather than as individuals. So, If you are excited because you have one Millennial on your team, wake up! They may not be there next month.

  • Millennials Want to Matter

    They have grown up with change, both good and bad, so they’re unafraid of making changes in their own lives to pursue careers that align with their desire to make a difference.

Millennials Celebrate Uniqueness

Millennials’ parents told them they were special, and they believed it! It’s important for this generation to stand out and celebrate their uniqueness.

Millennials in Today's Workforce
Millennials in Today’s Workforce

Millennials tend not to look at their first job as their final career, therefore many younger employees consider their work “something to do between weekends”. They aren’t thinking about climbing the corporate ladder. The more focused Millennial has a self-centered work ethic and is in search of a career path. If you are working with them, show them where they fit into your organization. Take the time to show them a career path. Open their eyes to the opportunities in front of them and in other departments.

The Challenge

The biggest challenge for any organization is to be open and willing to make a shift. It must bend to accommodate the Millennial mindset. Of course, the need for young talent is enormous. Competition is fierce to recruit and retain the best talent. Organizations unable or unwilling to make the shift will pay dearly for their inflexibility. Leading Millennials in today s workforce have the ability to transform the disruption of the workplace into profit for your company. First, however, your managers and marketers must be willing to adapt and change to fit their needs.

Are you up for the challenge?



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