Friends and purpose. That’s what young people want from their jobs.
For the majority of millennial workers (those born after 1979), the boundaries that used to exist between home, office, passion-projects, co-workers and friends aren’t relevant anymore. And in workplaces where those formal barriers do exist, many younger employees will be turned off and discouraged.
These findings come from the fifth annual Millennial Impact Report, released today by the Case Foundation in partnership with market-research agency Achieve.
Of the more than 1,500 millennials surveyed, about 9 out of 10 said they were contributing to a company that is making a positive impact on the world. “The millennials have a work-life blend -- blending of work, blending of life-interest, blending of value, blending of passion and interest,” says Derrick Feldmann, president and lead researcher of Achieve and the Millennial Impact Project.
When asked to describe the qualities they seek in an employer, millennials look first and foremost at what a company does, makes or sells. Second on the list was work culture, and third was a company’s participation in supporting particular causes. What that means is that millennials look for meaning in the core function of what a company does, not in subsidiary charity chapters, says Feldmann.
Having a company’s social benefit embedded in its main mission allows a millennial employee to give of his or her talents, skills and assets on a daily basis, beyond donating money. Millennials consider their time, talent and skills assets which they can give to a cause they believe in. “They are looking at these service opportunities and ways to volunteer and ways to get socially involved sort of synonymous with various personal skills and professional skills,” said Emily Yu, vice president of partnerships at the Case Foundation.
To attract and retain millennials, business owners should be looking for ways to give employees aged 20 to 33 opportunities to put their skills and talents towards cause work, or those projects and initiatives that help people and communities, the findings suggests. For companies whose business model is directly benefitting a meaningful cause, like educating underprivileged youth, for example, then employees will feel their skills are going directly toward a meaningful cause. If, however, a company’s business model doesn’t clearly benefit a cause, then employers will impress millennials by organizing company-wide cause-work, through volunteer days or giving campaigns. If a millennial employee feels that his or her skills and talents are being fully utilized, then he or she is more likely to stay working for the same company.
“We continue to discover, over the years, that millennials view all of their assets of equal: The asset of time, the asset of skill, the asset of talent and the asset of money,” said Feldmann. Entrepreneurial business owners looking to keep young workers motivated and happy should look to give employees the opportunity to exercise and experiment with each one of those assets, says Feldmann.
As millennials desire to blur the boundaries between their personal passions and professional work, they also want to blur the lines between friends and co-workers. Young workers are looking to feel "at home" within their work groups and departments. When given the option to work on volunteer projects with either individuals in their office they don’t see on a regular basis or people in their department that they work with on a daily basis, more than 6 in 10 survey respondents said they would rather work on a project with the colleagues in their department. And they also like group work in general: nearly 8 in 10 reported they prefer working in groups to working independently.
Because team dynamics are so important, the findings suggest employers should bring new potential hires to meet the department they could be working with, the survey finds. Those co-workers and friends are also guiding forces in pulling each other towards caring about causes.
“The biggest leverage or influencer for millennials to get involved with causes was a peer, a person -- a peer, an equal -- within a small group, 4 to 6 people overall, that introduced them to or enabled them to participate in some sort of cause issue or cause organization. And what we are seeing this year, in the research, there is a correlation. And there is a peer group, and it is at work, and it is your department,” said Feldmann.
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