How Do Millennials Want to Work?
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

In the U.S., there are nearly 73 million millennials.  Gallup’s report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, finds that millennials struggle to find good jobs that engage them. Millennials have the highest rates of unemployment and underemployment in the U.S. Only 29% of employed millennials say they are engaged at work and, less than 40% are what Gallup defines as “thriving” in any one aspect of well-being

Millennials are a diverse group and it is a mistake to generalize them. However, millennials do have common characteristics that can help leaders understand their behaviors and attitudes. Gallup has found that four key themes describe millennials: unattached, connected, unconstrained, and idealistic. Here is a summary of what Gallup determined:

Unattached: More so than the generations before them, millennials are a group without attachments. Generally, they do not feel close ties to their jobs or the brands they buy. Only 29% of millennial workers are engaged in their jobs and 25% of millennials are fully engaged customers.  Millennials’ engagement trails that of other generations.

Connected: Millennials are highly connected with the world around them.  According to Gallup, 91% of millennials own a smartphone, and 71% of millennials say the Internet is their main source for news and information. Millennials are hyper-connected which gives them a global perspective and transforms the way they interact, consume, browse, buy, and work.

Unconstrained: Millennials want change in the world — including in the marketplace and the workplace. Millennials want businesses to approach them differently and adjust the customer experience to meet their needs. Their ideal customer experience involves more channels – especially more digital channels. Millennials apply the same mindset around change in the workplace. They desire a change in the old workplace policies and performance management standards.  They want leaders and managers to adapt accordingly. In many ways, they see work and life closely intertwined. Millennials want to have a different relationship with their leaders. They want their leader to care about them as both an employee and a person. Gallup discovered that 62% of millennials who feel they can talk with their manager or leader about non-work-related issues plan to be with their current organization one year from now.  There is significant upside for leaders to holistically engage with millennials.

Idealistic: Millennials are an optimistic group and they believe that work should be worthwhile and have meaning. And, they want to learn and grow. A full 87% of millennials say development and career growth are very important to them in a job. Millennials also want to know that they fit in with their jobs, teams and companies. They look for work with a sense of purpose and work that makes them feel important. Seventy-one percent of millennials who strongly agree that they know what their organization stands for and what makes it different from its competitors say they plan to be with their company for at least one year.

In many ways, millennials reflect the needs of all employed generations.  I see this in so many member workplaces today.  As leaders, if we seek to connect, remove constraints and appeal to the sense of mission of all our team – to include our millennials – we will likely see much greater success.  By paying attention to millennial trends and desire, leaders can thrive in an increasingly competitive environment to serve the consumer of tomorrow and the workforce of today – and tomorrow.  Are you ready to lead millennials?  Now is a good time to take up the challenge!

For a more information go to: can also download a summary of How Millennials Want to Work and Live.  It offers an in-depth look at what defines the millennial generation as employees, people and consumers.