What Do Millennials Really Want From Work

Credit: Laura Dee Photography

Credit: Laura Dee Photography

Everyone knows some lucky Millennial working at a Bay Area tech company where free food, massages, and dry cleaning are industry standard perks. Due to some major workplace jealousy, every Millennial is guilty of day dreaming about working somewhere where sneaking off to find a nap pod is encouraged. But despite what employers may think, these untraditional perks are not what most Millennials are looking for in a place of employment. In 2015 Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers as the majority of the U.S. workforce at 53.5% and as such it is time to take what they want at work seriously. And their needs are much more serious than one might think.


Millennials are starting to devote more time and money than ever on experiences. More than 3 in 4 Millennials (78%) would choose to spend money on a desirable experience or event over buying something desirable. Millennials’ desire for more flexibility with their work hours goes hand in hand with this spending trend. As it turns out, Millennials are not happy working your average 9 to 5 job. 81% would appreciate being able to make their own hours at work, 77% believe that flexible work hours would make them more productive at work overall and 43% would switch jobs if given greater flexibility in work hours elsewhere. The freedom to design their own work hours is so valuable to workers of any age that 2 out of 5 are even willing to forfeit a portion of their salary if it meant increasing their position’s flexibility. If Millennials were able to introduce more flexibility into their current posts, 64% would favor sometimes working from home and 66% would appreciate an adjustment in their hours.


Despite having a reputation for being self-centered, 84% of Millennials say that helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important to them than professional recognition. To feel fulfilled at work, Millennials need to feel as if their work matters. 60% of Millennials cite “a sense of purpose” as part of the reason they work for their current employer. Watch out Baby Boomers, Millennials were found to care much more about making a difference through their work than other generations. When surveyed 35% of Millennials  found it important to have a job with a positive social impact, compared with just 19% of employed Americans overall.

"60% of Millennials cite a 'sense of purpose' as a reason they work for their current employer." 

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While ping pong tables, bringing your dog to work and riding around the office on scooters are all fun perks, what Millennials are actually looking for at work is not that different than previous generations of workers. Essentially employees of each recent generation share the same reason for changing jobs: more money and a more creative workplace. This sentiment was expressed by 42% of Millennials, 42% of Baby Boomers and 47% of Generation Xers. When gauging what makes an employer attractive, Millennials placed career advancement opportunities at the top of their list followed by competitive wages/other financial incentives and then excellent training/development programs.


Creativity is key for Millennials, with 31% placing value on working with creative people. Millennials are not the only generation craving more creativity at work, 36% of employed U.S. adults report that they want to leave their current job to pursue a career that allows them to be more creative. The American workforce values creativity so much that almost 41 million employed U.S. adults, are willing to take a pay cut for a job that allowed them to be more creative. Allowing Millennials to think outside the box is key to retaining Millennial talent. If they don’t, employers risk losing employees to the more creative and less restrictive path of being an entrepreneur. 67% of Millennial employees surveyed said they would leave their traditional jobs for a more creative self-employed track if they believed they could pay their bills by working for themselves.

Written by: Jacqueline DeMarco is a freelance writer with experience in editorial and news writing. 

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