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Three things Millennials really want from a job

Gone on vacation

By Mary Jawgiel

The Millennial generation, who are now 18 to 34 years old, comprise close to 50 percent of the workforce, larger than any other generation, and are soon to become more than half of the entire workforce. Their younger siblings dubbed the Gen Z’s are coming up and will soon be making an impact, but not for a few years yet.

What the Millennial generation wants from a job is one of the hottest topics in the workforce for every industry. Their wants include moving up the ladder quickly, having unlimited vacation, nap rooms and free food and more. Since this generation is now a workforce majority, and they are highly in demand as your next new hire, what they are looking for in a job is very important to know.

An article on the Glassdoor blog in early 2016 stated that perks and benefits will matter more than they have in the past. Perks and benefits are now being considered by more than half of jobseekers before accepting a new job offer.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the types of benefits available to workers have grown from 60 in 1996 to 344 listed on their 2016 Research and Benefits Survey Report. Employers are trying to better define benefits for individual employees. The newest benefit being mentioned is a “life-planning account.” This is a taxable account, which employers would contribute to, that can then be used by employees for certain qualifying expenses like student loan payments, college costs for children, home improvements, etc. This type of pick and choose account can make it easier for smaller organizations to offer tailored benefits to employees.

In yet another survey, Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) found “opportunities for career progression” to be the number one item that made a company attractive to Millennial candidates. These opportunities can be called many things including: free courses for skills improvement, having a company mentor, offering work-life coaching, creating opportunities to work in other roles within the company, developing a career progression chart for the employee-to-be (i.e. what you will be doing in six months, one year, two years, etc.).

Bottom line: Millennials want to know what their future with your organization will be, and if you don’t provide them with this information, they will keep looking until they find a company that will. If you do give them insight as to how they can progress in say, five years AND you show them how they can get there, your organization will seriously be considered by the Millennials as somewhere they want to work.

Money may not be the only thing or even the top priority among Millennial candidates, but it does rank up there–anywhere from number two to number five (depending on the survey) as for what Millennials want in a new job. While a young job applicant may be willing to accept a slightly lower salary when deciding between two offers, they are still paying off huge student loans and living with their parents while they look for ways to get out from under. You don’t have to offer the huge salary, but you do need to be competitive in the marketplace if you want to find and keep good young workers.

The third benefit this younger group of potential job candidates is taking into consideration before accepting a job offer is work/life balance or flexibility. Work/life balance is gaining in popularity in all generations but is especially desired by Millennials. The younger generation is blending their work and leisure life–they read emails before they go to bed, so they know what to prepare for in the morning and they expect to be able to do life things during “work hours” if that suits them.

Again, this can mean different things to different people but some options to consider are working from home a specific number of days per week or month, working virtually (all the time), increased amount of vacation time or even unlimited vacation time (they get to choose), time-off during the workday (with pay) to do things like pick-up the kids from school, go to the dentist, attend a non-work related event, etc. If you insist on traditional work hours and coming into the office all day, the best Millennial candidates will likely turn down your job offer.

Although other perks and benefits such as health and wellness programs, a good cultural fit, free lunches, etc. will most likely be considered by younger applicants, the top three criteria for this cohort when weighing job offers are: career development, salary/money and flexibility. Offer strong programs in these areas and you will increase your chances of hiring and keeping a young new applicant

Mary JawgielMary Jawgiel is program director for Industrial Careers Pathway (ICP), an initiative of the PTDA Foundation and seven other industrial distribution organizations. For more insights on recruiting, hiring, onboarding, training, managing and retaining younger employees, subscribe to the ICP Talent Tipsheet at

This article originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. 2017 issue of Industrial Supply magazine. Copyright 2017, Direct Business Media.


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