Millennials in the Workplace: What They Want

Millennials are different.

Or, at least that’s what we’ve been taught. It’s more that this generational group thinks differently about a lot of things, particularly work. Why are they so criticized and disparaged?

Recently, I read a Forbes magazine article about what millennials say they want in the workplace. Here are the statistics, along with my interpretations:

64% want to make the world a better place

Millennials aren’t like the idealists from the 1960’s, the kind of hippie-dippie, hand-holding, Woodstock Kumbaya image that some of you might have. Millennials know the world is changing at warp-speed. Traditional structures are breaking down and millennials know they can help shape what the future looks like, whether you’re talking cars, space exploration, the world of work, government or whatever.

They don’t want to waste their time trying to fit in – fit into a job box or a traditional view of what’s expected of them. They want to stand out, be different, contribute, make a difference. They want to find a way to use their talents to change the world. They think work can be fun. They want to be engaged. They don’t see the benefit of putting in their time in a job or linear career path, particularly when the pay-off for doing so isn’t guaranteed. They prefer to create their own path. And, it’s usually not linear or traditional.

72% would like to be their own boss

People tend to see this and think that Millennials are entrepreneurial and want to have their own business. I don’t agree. I think that Millennials just want to be the boss of themselves. They don’t want someone else telling them what to do, how to do it and when to do it. They would like to have more control over their work and the way it is done.

88% want a collaborative work environment

Millennials like to work together with like-minded individuals who share a common vision and are just as motivated to achieve the outcome as they are. They are not into competition. They refuse to “play the game.” They are not political. A lot of Millennials are used to working on teams, either on the sports field or in school.

74% want flexible work schedules

This is not a surprise. Growing up in the world of technology where you can work from anywhere, they just don’t see the point of having to be in a centralized location, working from 9 – 5. If they can get the work done from 9 pm – 3 am, why not? It’s all about the results and the quality of the work.

88% want “work-life integration”

According to the article, “work-life integration” isn’t the same as work-life balance, since “work and life now blend together inextricably.” Millennials do not compartmentalize. They do not have a sense of a separation between their work and personal life. To them, it is all their life, with work being one sphere or component part of the whole. They want the ability to flow into different spheres of their lives, and not live in separate worlds. They don’t show up differently in separate areas of their lives. It’s all one to them.

Why do we tend to disparage Millennials as “self-absorbed,” “self-centered” and unproductive? They are actually the “new workers” who are going to help us usher in the New World of Work. We can learn a lot from them.

And, if you are a Millennial who is struggling in today’s workplace, reach out to me at

Everything You Wanted to Know About Today’s Job Market (but were afraid to ask) – Part 1

The first step towards creating work you love is – understanding the context.
What is happening in the job market, and how does it affect you? And your choices?

The Job Market

We tend to measure the health of the job market by looking at the monthly “Jobs Report” issued by the Labor Department. It comes out the first Friday of every month. You can read about last month’s numbers here.

Right now, the unemployment number is low, at 5.0%. The job creation number is up. That would seem to indicate that the job market is healthy.

And, yet why does it seem so hard to find a job? Why is it that our friends, family, neighbors, and sons and daughters seem to be struggling to find great work?

The jobs that are being created are not the same quality of the jobs that are being shed.

292,000 new jobs were created last month. (Good news? Bad news?) Sounds good to me.

Of those, 73,000 were in a category called “Business and Professional.”  Good news…except that half of them were in a subcategory called “temporary help.” Hmmmm…bad news.

That’s the biggest challenge with today’s job market. On the surface, everything looks great. But, when you dig below the surface, you’ll see that a lot is going on. Some good. Some bad. Some unusual.

You can pick a statistic and argue either side – good news or bad news. For example, watch what the two political parties are doing.

Leading Democrats say: Unemployment is 5.0%, half of what it was when we had the financial downturn in 2008-2009. Good news!

Leading Republicans say: The labor participation rate is at 62.5%, a rate we haven’t seen since the 1970’s. People who want to work, can’t. Bad news.

Both groups are correct. So, it’s difficult to get an overall picture of what’s really happening in the labor market.

Here’s what you need to know…traditional structures of the labor market are breaking down, and a new paradigm is emerging. We’ve got the “Gig Economy,” “the Interim Market,” and more fluid and flexible work arrangements. We have less stability and predictability than we had in the past, with full-time jobs, salaries, benefits and careers with a single company. On the other hand, there is more flexibility to create work you love, around who you are and what you can contribute, than any other time in history.

Good news? Bad news? You get to decide. The first step starts with understanding what’s going on…I’ll be writing more of these posts in the future so that you can piece together your own interpretation.