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The Big M Word

I was recently asked to speak to the topic of “The needs of millennials in the workplace, and perhaps how they are sometimes misunderstood”. Usually when people even say the word millennial, the eyes in the room start to roll and the first thing that comes to mind is probably “kids these days”.

Well yes, kids these days are doing some phenomenal things. And you really, really do not want to miss out on having some of these employees in your workforce. How do you attract the best of the best of the millennial generation? How do you keep these people satisfied, how do we keep them engaged?


Let me paint a very exciting, but possibly somewhat scary picture for some of you reading this. By 2025 75% of a workforce will be occupied by millennials. That’s probably your kids, or some of your friend’s kids. Can you imagine these individuals being your stakeholders? Being empowered to run companies, contribute to strategy and be trusted with huge company responsibility.

Why I say excited, is that if you’re ready for the new generation, or rather your kids, to be part of your workforce. You’re going to firstly have a very happy HR department and secondly, your business or organisation won’t feel the punch but rather you will benefit from the innovation and new perspective.

We all know the stereotypes. Millennials never settle down. We're in debt for “useless” degrees. We live through social media and we are reluctant to put our phone away. Our bosses aren’t wrong about these perceptions. But being negative about our generation isn’t going to solve your problem. I hate to say, but you unfortunately still need us. We’re the ones who've mastered social media, who have the energy of an energizer bunny, and who will devour back expensive coffees until the job is done, flawlessly every time.

When you type “Millennials are” into Google… The top 5 autocompletes are:

Millennials are killingMillennials are lazyMillennials are the worstMillennials are lazy entitled narcissistsMillennials are born between what years

By the way for those that are a bit unsure, researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years

What a way to describe a generation that’s supposed to be the next world leaders right?

Here are some factors to consider about our generation:

Parenting- If there are any parents of millennials reading this article, you will know when I say we’ve been told we are perfect our whole life, especially by our parents. That we can do, believe and become anything we like.

Social Media- We were born into an age that adopted social media very early. I got Facebook about 9 years ago, and have pretty much grown up with it. That’s why we know it so intimately and it’s become about instant gratification and a place to share your feelings, instead of real life.

Technology- With the world creating an app for literally everything and anything, we have become more impatient and unforgiving of human error. Why am I waiting for this? Surely, I can get this online- why do I need to go to a mall?

Environment- We now live in a world where resources are limited and science shows us every day that humans are killing the earth. We want to work for companies that are conscious of that, and that are playing their part in creating a sustainable future.


The common perception is that we already think we’re worth our salary for just coming to work. That’s not true- we just feel we should be recognised, please note recognised and not rewarded. Reward eludes to incentives- yes those are nice, I think any generation will agree but recognition is a lasting feeling, not instant gratification.

Job security. More than the generation before us, who didn’t mind job hopping, or rather lived in a more stable economy with more room to be spontaneous. Stereotypes about millennials suggest they’re not interested in old-fashioned markers of success. But when it comes to the fundamental desire for these basic anchors – a home, retirement stash, a decent career, a family – there is very little difference between our generations. According to researchers at Deloitte, which publishes an annual survey of millennial attitudes, recent political and social instability in the developed world has made young people’s desire for security even more pronounced in just the last 12 months.

We’re after work wellbeing- after all there really is no such thing as balance anymore. With technology really imposing on our “offline time”, we never ever switch off. When jobs 10/15 years ago, allowed for you to work an 8-5, its now a world where you’re expected to be available from when you open your eyes to when you close your eyes. Before we’re “old”- I use that term quite loosely, we want to see the world, understand more than just our localised community and culture. Because it’s all so available online, we’re constantly seeking to explore new places and learn about new cultures. If you’re a company that has opportunities like that available, locally or abroad, that’s going to be one of the biggest carrots you dangle to our generation.


It's not just about material things- a chicken and mayo toastie, and a nice couch with a PlayStation that we will never actually be able to use may seem appealing to sell as your employer value proposition, but truth be told, its way more than the superficial benefits we’re after.

We’ll bring smarter ways of doing things, whether its digital tools or automation of admin intensive tasks.

Our generation, or really people in general leave bad managers… Not your company. We’re looking for leaders and mentors, not just managers. Equip your business and people to be curious, and build a culture of connected minds.

We admire and strive for high performance. It’s extremely demotivating to someone who puts their heart, soul and time into their job to be surrounded by people just there to get by. You’re busy giving it all you’ve got, and every time you look up and see Nancy-Never-Does-Anything is on Facebook. 


Communicate as a business, be transparent and authentic when sharing or communicating vision & strategy (we want to feel like we’re part of something bigger than our KPI’s).

Forget the traditional attraction tools for this generation, think out the box- invest in gamifying processes, collaborative work environments and interesting work.

We want to work for businesses that have a clear why, not what or how. Why you do something is more important than how you’re going to do it and what’s going to be the vehicle for that service or product delivery.


Social Recruiting- invest in more than just a LinkedIn page. Facebook & Instagram need to promote content about your culture and not just your available jobs.

Create a meaningful graduate programme, not just campaign.

Career Growth is your biggest (and often free) retention tool, spend time promoting growth within your organisation and create the opportunity to lead (after all we all want to change the world, even if it’s one promotion at a time).

Learning & Development opportunities like Study Assistance & Online Learning are a great opportunity to retain us.


Narcissistic, misunderstood and disinterested… millennials have been labelled as many names, but seldom have they been called ‘mom and dad’. now, members of the millennial-Disney like generation who refused to grow up are now having children of their own. These kids are currently around 7 years old, and don’t know a world before the internet or their cell phone. If you think the millennial generation is a little scary, wait for their children… Currently named “Gen Alpha”. Even though this generation is not actively contributing to the market, in 10 years we’ll be having a very different conversation.

I hope that through the insights I have shared about my generation, that your eyes might roll a little less when interacting in business with us. 

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