What differentiatesMillennials from Baby Boomers, Gen X or Gen Z, and what do they expect in their professional lives? Millennials' characteristics can sometimes give the impression that this is a generation that "wants it all". They require flexibility, transparency, purpose, and collaboration. This goes without mentioning that working with technology is crucial for this connected generation.
A high salary is not their main motivator and they won’t hesitate to switch jobs if they don’t feel like they are in the right place, with the right people, doing the right job. Gen Y, another name for this demographic group, often says what they think even if it doesn’t align with their peers or their leader.
Because they are the largest generation in the workplace, they are the “cornerstone” and can have a drastic influence on professional environments. Therefore, employers and managers need to know what distinguishes these employees born between 1981 and 1996 from other workers. So, after analyzing Gen-Z’s traits a few weeks ago, we’ve decided to give you a better understanding of Gen Y's characteristics.
What characterizes Millennials in the workplace?
Millennials’ characteristics include an appreciation for collaboration and teamwork
Gen Y values and enjoys working in a team more than by themselves. Exchanging ideas and learning from each other are two key aspects that motivate them and help them thrive. For this generation, the workplace is not only an environment where they come to perform their tasks, but it is also a place where they can build connections and friendships. If you aim to improve employee satisfaction and well-being, creating an office space that encourages collaboration and social interactions is something that Millennials will highly appreciate.
Curiosity and skill development are part of their DNA
Curiosity and constant learning are common traits of Millennials. In their personal and professional lives, they enjoy discovering new activities, widening their knowledge, and challenging themselves. Therefore, they expect to be able to do the same with their career. Once they master the hard and soft skills required for their job, they need to be stimulated or gain new abilities to remain motivated by their job. Consequently, Millennials switch jobs more often than other generations, either for a higher position or a horizontal move that allows them to discover new professional fields.
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Gen Y can easily adapt to change
Millennials are used to living in an ever-changing environment. For example, they grew up witnessing the launch of the first iPhone in 2007 and how it has evolved since. They know the world is evolving at a rapid pace and society is too. If they are included in decision-making and get a clear explanation about the reasons for change, they welcome it more easily than other generations. However, they also frankly share their opinion when they don’t agree as we will discuss later on in this article.
What distinguishes their way of working from other generations?
Working with technology is a must for Millennials
Millennials are a very connected generation. The majority of them are on social media and use modern technology (smartphones, GPS, smartwatches…) on a daily basis. They expect to benefit from these tools at work too. For them, companies that are not digitally active and don’t embrace the development of technology are a no-go. Additionally, they are eager to adopt new techs such as virtual reality and Artificial Intelligence in the near future. Instead of seeing it as a threat to their job, they believe workplace technology is going to revolutionize the way we work for the better.
Millennials’ characteristics include the expectation of receiving feedback but giving theirs too
Gen Y openly asks for feedback and takes it into account. However, they expect to be able to express their opinion too. They believe it is essential to improve while also helping others to do so. This generation was encouraged to say what they think and discuss everything sincerely. Receiving and giving feedback is an expected practice for Millennials. This is a very important aspect to know from a leader’s point of view. This is a trait to focus on when managing Millennials and a characteristic to remember when your Gen Y team members share their feedback freely.
Millennials are not a generation that spends their whole career in the same occupation or company. They are even called the “job-hopping generation”. First, they like to explore new environments and learn new skills. Second, they are not going to stay at a company that does not fulfill their expectations. According to the Millennials statistics 2022 published by Team Stage, 21% of Gen Y changed their job in the U.S. last year. This is three times more than other generations in the workplace. Consequently, meeting Millennials’ expectations is more important than with any other demographic group.
What matters the most for Gen Y?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives are essential for Gen Y
Have you read our article about the benefits of diversity in the workplace? What about the one regarding the advantages of an inclusive work environment? If you haven’t yet, we highly recommend you do so. Not only does it give you a better understanding of why tackling diversity, equity, and inclusion at work is fundamental, but it also shows you why it contributes to business success. Having DEI initiatives in the workplace is one of the most important criteria for Millennials and Gen Z. They want to work with a diverse team, where there are equal opportunities for all and inclusive practices. Don’t try to fool them with tokenism*. This generation is used to decipher these false attempts and this might have a negative impact.
Transparency and recognition are two fundamental expectations from Gen Y
Parallel to appreciating honest constructive feedback, Millennials also cherish collaborating with people that communicate clearly and value their work. For this generation, having a reliable relationship with their coworkers means recognizing each other's skills, and being straightforward with each other in a healthy manner. Likewise, they expect transparency from their manager and the company. Gen Y employees want to have a clear idea of the future of the business in order to stay eng. If they feel they are not kept in the loop and considered, their motivation decreases, and this can lead to further negative consequences such as quitting.
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Requiring flexible work arrangements is a major Gen Y characteristic
Last but not least, if we had to name one generation that cherishes work-life balance, it is Gen Y. Millennials make sure to not let their professional lives take over their personal ones. 43% hope to retire before 65 in comparison to 2% of Baby Boomers according to the same report from Team Stage. Therefore, it is no surprise that flexible work is a must for this generation of employees. From hybrid work to flexitime and compressed hours models, they enjoy it all. We recently released an article about remote work statistics and discovered thanks to a Cisco study that Millennials value hybrid work more than any other demographic group. 72.6% of them prefer this model to 100% in office or fully remote work systems, against 71% for Gen Z, 70.9% for Gen X, and 68.3% for Baby Boomers.
Even if they are sometimes targeted as the “pain” generation because they have many expectations, Millennials possess traits that can benefit organizations in many ways. But for this to happen, meeting their expectations is essential. For Gen Y, the company culture has to be a balanced give-and-take environment. If it is not the case, they are already applying for their next role before you even get the chance to improve.
Although these characteristics have been observed in Gen Y behavior, they are only trends. Each employee is unique and might feel differently about the topics mentioned. Do you want to give Millennials and the other generations in the workplace the work flexibility they require? Request a free demo of the deskbird app and discover how to easily manage a hybrid workspace!
*Tokenism: “the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from under-represented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce”, Oxford Languages.