As a follow up to the research you gave me on "What do young people (millennials) care about in an employer?", I would like to know what millennials want specifically in a work culture--how do they define "culture" and what elements of culture matter the most and why.
Hello! Thank you for your request to provide you research reports that specifically describe the type of culture millennials want in a workplace, and how this generation defines "culture." The short version is in terms of culture, millennials generally want "ownership, autonomy and opportunities to influence positive change." They want a culture that supports their desire to continually learn, a collaborative environment that encourages mentorship, opportunities to work a flexible schedule to better fit their perspective of a work-life balance, and a social community that allows them to make connections with their colleagues. My methodology and results are below.
To research your request, I first searched industry reports. Per your notes on your preferred search strategy I specifically focused on reports published through top job hunting sites like LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, WayUp, Levo, The Muse, Crunchboard, and Idealist. Using this strategy, I was able to find eight articles and reports that offer significant insight into what millennials want in terms of workplace culture. To fill out your list, I looked at other trusted media sites and identified four other reports and articles that enhance my findings from the first eight.
ARTICLE 1 — YOUR COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO HIRING MILLENNIALS
This article published by ZipRecruiter explains that millennials want a work culture that provides them with opportunities to volunteer in their community. Although you mention you already know that millennials prefer to work for companies that support a cause aligned with their values, this report shows that more than that, millennials want to contribute to those causes themselves. Studies show that "94 percent [of millennials] like using their skills to benefit a cause, 77 percent prefer working with groups of fellow employees rather than performing independent service projects, 62 percent prefer to volunteer with people in their department, and 57 percent want more company-wide service days." As such, it is not just important for companies to be involved with charities or non-profit organizations. Millennials want to be on the front lines of that involvement. As an example, this same study showed that of the survey respondents "47 percent had volunteered on their own for a cause or nonprofit in the past month." More importantly, they want to do this volunteer work with their colleagues, so creating a culture that gives back to the community is extremely important to this generation.
ARTICLE 2 — THE MILLENNIAL WORKFORCE; CREATING CULTURE, PURPOSE, AND IMPACT
According to Ashley Fell, Head of Communications at McCrindle Research, millennials value workplace culture over job security and a stable work environment. Some of this has to do with the fact that millennials are "delaying traditional life markers, such as getting married and starting a family," and thus need their job to provide them with a sense of belonging and community. They want a culture that is "fun, inviting, inclusive and provide[s] a sense of community." They view their employer as much more than just a job. They want "training, varied job content, an accessible management, and work/life balance." In other words, they want the place where they spend much of their time during the week to be a part of their social lives. In fact, "social aspects, such as opportunities for collaboration, social events, co-working spaces and team building," rank among the most important aspects of workplace culture for millennials.
ARTICLE 3 — ARE MILLENNIALS REDEFINING WORKPLACE CULTURE?
The main takeaways from this article are that millennials want opportunities to continue learning, a diverse workplace, a collaborative environment, regular feedback, and organizational transparency. First and foremost, "millennials look for job roles that give them an opportunity to progress." When they are considering a company for employment, they focus "on building their own identity, on their own terms. The careers will be chosen carefully and what they do will align with their ambitions." While other generations may have been looking for jobs that provide them with financial security, millennials want careers that will allow them to clearly see "how they are contributing to the organization’s growth." If they cannot see their purpose at a company, they will seek employment elsewhere. For this reason, millennials require a culture that provides "regular feedback and recognition for their efforts." They don't want the annual or semi-annual reviews that have become commonplace in the business world. "They want frequent (preferably monthly) performance reviews." According to studies, millennials desire a diverse workplace culture as well, having been raised in a world where "a diverse community is the norm" However, unlike previous generations, "millennials do not associate diversity and inclusion with demographics, or equal opportunity. For them, it is more about expressing themselves and the consideration of different opinions." This is where the collaborative and teamwork-based culture comes in and why it is so important to millennials. Finally, this report explains that "millennials believe in committed personal learning and development," want "an employment culture that emphasizes transparency, well-developed communication models and engaging reviews and feedback," and value "an inclusive work culture encourages different perspective and ideas."
ARTICLE 4 — THE DEATH OF THE 9-TO-5: WHY WE'LL ALL WORK FLEX SCHEDULES SOON
The gist of this article is that millennials want a flexible work culture that they can fit in around their lives. While this seems selfish, it actually may prove to make workers more productive. "Research by Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom found that working remotely increases productivity, overall work hours, and employee satisfaction...removing the time it takes to physically commute to work and the distractions of the in-office environment made a huge difference: The telecommuters completed 13.5% more calls than the office workers, performed 10% more work overall, left the company at half the rate of people in the office, reported feeling more fulfilled at work, and saved the company $1,900 per employee." So, even though older generations would never dreamed of asking their employers for flexible hours, millennials are actually ahead of their time. Some experts believe that "By 2030, professionals will work mostly from home using super-fast data terminals" and "if the office isn’t necessary—why are set office hours?" Millennials think the way business has always been done is absurd and will go to great lengths to change it. According to a recent Bentley University study, "77% of Millennials say that flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive for people their age." Eventually, many millennials will be running the companies they're just starting out with today, and when they can create their own workplace culture, flex jobs will be the norm rather than the exception.
ARTICLE 5 — HOW TO GET MORE MILLENNIALS TO APPLY TO YOUR COMPANY (AND STICK AROUND A WHILE)
This second Muse article reinforces the notion that what comes off as "millennial entitlement" is just the manifestation of their desire to grow and learn. Advice for companies that want to hire millennials includes making "opportunities for advancement, learning, and professional development" apparent during the hiring process, "use real stories of team members in your office who have grown from entry-level to leadership roles, and highlight "mentorship and professional development opportunities, such as tuition reimbursement and company-sponsored classes, conferences, and workshops." If millennials know they have the chance to grow and learn with a company, they are more likely to stick around. The younger generations want to know their employer is willing to invest in their employees. They view employment as a give-and-take agreement, so if the employer is giving them opportunities to advance, then the employees will work harder in return. This article also backs up the sentiment of the previous Muse report in that it reiterates millennials' desire to "fit work into their lives—rather than build their lives around their work." Work/life balance in the form of a flexible schedule is a "perk that will really grab and keep the attention of millennials—and frankly, all generations."
ARTICLE 6 — MILLENNIALS ARE SEARCHING FOR MENTORS
The workplace cultural aspect addressed in this article is the idea that millennials seek mentorship at their jobs. The "view mentor guidance as a necessary professional tool, as well as an important presence in their life," but unfortunately, "78 percent of millennials work at companies where mentors are not provided." As mentioned in previous articles, millennials are looking for a personal connection at work. Since they are holding off on marriage and kids, they want to build relationships with their colleagues. Companies that provide mentorship opportunities are going to appeal to millennials' desire to grow and advance in their careers. In a recent Work & Happiness Report, 75% of millennial respondents rated learning and skill development opportunities as the "prime metric of measuring at-work happiness and satisfaction." Even in highly competitive industries, mentorship is critical for millennials who "want advice, insight, and structure from mentors to help them not only excel in their current roles but also grow in their careers."
ARTICLE 7 — MILLENNIALS AND THE YEAR AHEAD
The highlight of this report is that millennials "desire to feel valued by employers, work with purpose and make a measurable impact through their work and career advancement." Just clocking in and doing a job, even if they are doing it satisfactorily, is not enough for millennials. In fact, 88% of them have a "strong motivation to see the companies they work for succeed." Not only do they want to be a part of a successful company, they want to know they had something to do with that success. Levo offers employers some advice for adding value to the company in the eyes of millennials. First, employers need to show them "how their work contributes to their company’s success...through clear, consistent communication." Second, they need to foster "transparency in how the work that they do aligns to the company’s mission and purpose." This report also shows that the top concern for millennials in the work place is career advancement (73%), while health follows in second place (63%). Millennials are hyper concerned with health and fitness and a workplace culture has to encourage those attributes in the office setting. As such, "companies that provide wellness programs and incentives for health work/life balance in addition to traditional healthcare benefits will appeal strongly to this cohort."
ARTICLE 8 — WHAT MILLENNIALS WANT FROM EMPLOYERS
This article focuses on several cultural aspects that millennials want from their workplace. Specifically, they want to work in collaboration with their colleagues and their supervisors. They want their company to "set up collaborative environments" because they "thrive on both giving and receiving feedback from an employer, and they want an opportunity to “weigh in” on important issues and strategy." They want to feel like they have some input on the direction of the company, or as other articles have put it, they want their opinions to matter. As mentioned earlier, millennials are not looking for jobs that can be finished in a typical 9-to-5 fashion. They "want to work in an environment where it is 'safe' to ask and explore 'why?'" They aren't being obstinate. They ask these questions to satisfy their need to learn and grow. Again, they seek continual feedback and often feel like their employers are too slow in giving it. Annual reviews are out as they say, "The annual cadence of the employee engagement survey or annual reviews is not working for us... We enjoy and can evolve with constant feedback."
ARTICLE 9 — GOT MILLENNIALS? HERE'S THE CULTURE THEY NEED
Although this article is from a source other than the ones you preferred, Forbes, as I'm sure you know, is a reliable source of information for business-related topics. On the subject of millennial workplace culture, Forbes notes that "of the millennials that are employed, only 29% are emotionally engaged at work and love their jobs." Since this generation will soon represent the largest workforce in history, it is critical companies understand how to engage them so that their businesses don't suffer. Essentially, millennials want everything previous generations have wanted from a workplace, but they want even more. Not only do they want "a life well-lived, good jobs with 30-plus hours of work a week, regular paychecks from employers, BUT they also want to be engaged (emotionally and behaviorally), they want high levels of well-being, a purposeful life, active community and social ties. They want to spend money not just on what they need, but also on what they want." Just as previous articles have noted, for millennials, work is not separate from their personal life. It is integrated as part of their personal life. They need the social and community components that traditionally have come from neighborhoods and other places outside the workplace. Unfortunately, unhappy millennials can cause irreparable damage to a company because "16% of millennials are actively disengaged. These individuals don’t like their jobs and are actively ensuring others don’t either." A disengaged attitude is contagious and millennials who aren't getting what they need from a company culture can spread that attitude like wildfire.
ARTICLE 10 — WHAT MILLENNIALS WANT FROM WORK AND LIFE
This report from the polling company Gallup supports the information in the Flex Schedules article. For instance, a recent Gallup survey found that "they want to be free of old workplace policies and performance management standards, and they expect leaders and managers to adapt accordingly." They don't understand why, in this age of technology, workers have to be confined to cubicles during regular work hours. This "hyper-connectedness has helped them gain a unique global perspective and has transformed the way they interact, consume content, browse, buy and work." In addition, this report lends credence to the What Millennials Want from Employers article in that the Gallup survey found that millennials need and crave the chance to shape their company's direction. They want to be able to communicate freely with their supervisors about any concerns they have and to know that their opinions are important. The survey discovered that "62% of millennials who feel they can talk with their manager about non-work-related issues plan to be with their current organization one year from now." Longevity is dependent upon creating a culture where millennials feel a sense of belonging and ownership over the company's success.
ARTICLE 11 — THE MUSE'S KATHRYN MINSHEW: WHAT DO MILLENNIALS WANT?
Although this source is from Thrive Global, it features the CEO of one of your preferred sources, The Muse. Interestingly, Kathryn Minshew points out that employers might be headed down the wrong path by looking for what the entire generation wants, particularly because one of the key features of a millennial is that they desire individuality. In other words, "maybe the key to figuring out how to hire, and retain, the right millennial candidates isn’t by understanding the generation — maybe it’s by understanding the individuals." Surprisingly, The Muse has learned that much like what was reported in the Forbes article, "millennials are, in many ways, no different than past generations... the main difference is that they’ve learned to share their voice through social media. When a millennial wants something from an employer, they aren’t afraid to say it." The conclusion that can be drawn from this observation is that bosses of millennials need to be approachable. They cannot simply pass down orders and expect this younger generation to follow them. Many millennials "want a workplace where they have open communication with their superiors," so discouraging input, feedback, and collaboration is going to fare negatively with millennials in general. However, to say that all millennials desire this open communication is an over-simplification. Other millennials "may value a position that offers growth within the organization." Still others look for a social atmosphere that allows them to build personal relationships. In the end, says Minshew, the best a company can do is be "upfront and honest about your culture to millennials, then they know what to expect. Nothing can make them more upset than finding out you lied about your culture."
ARTICLE 12 — HOW COMPANIES ARE CHANGING THEIR CULTURE TO ATTRACT (AND RETAIN) MILLENNIALS
When searching for how millennials define "culture," this is the article that provided the most succinct definition I could find. To millennials, a positive workplace culture is "ownership, autonomy and opportunities to influence positive change." The good news is that companies typically don't have to completely change what they're doing to embrace this definition. Moreover, if you can make these changes, "millennials will go above and beyond for you and your business." In addition to providing a definition of millennials' concept of culture, this article provides numerous statistics that support most of the issues brought up by the other sources. For example, "69% of millennials say that their colleagues should enable their best work," supporting the claim that millennials want a collaborative culture with mentors to show them the way. Another statistic, "64% of millennials would like to occasionally work from home, and 66% would like the option to occasionally shift their work hours," supports the idea that millennials do not want traditional schedules, but instead believe productivity can be just as high or higher with flexible schedules. Finally, "88% want 'work-life integration,' which isn’t the same as work-life balance, since work and life now blend inextricably," backs up the notion that millennials do not view work as separate from their personal lives. It is all combined and as such, they need a culture that supports them socially as well as financially.
To wrap it up, although painting the entire generation of millennials with a single broad brush is likely not going to satisfy every member, after extensive research, I can conclude that in general, millennials want a culture that encourages "ownership, autonomy and opportunities to influence positive change." Specifically, they want a culture that supports their desire to continually learn, a collaborative environment that encourages mentorship, opportunities to work a flexible schedule to better fit their perspective of a work-life balance, and a social community that allows them to make connections with their colleagues. Essentially, millennials want it all, and they won't settle for less.
Thank you for using Wonder! Please let us know if we can help you with anything else.