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The Values Millennials Hold Most Dear

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

A common complaint in human resource and hiring teams today is the difficulty of hiring and retaining millennials. Baby boomers are retiring and generation x-ers have fewer technology skillsets than millennials, not to mention there are many more millennials than any other generation in the workforce. This age group brings a significant and important set of abilities to the workplace. In fact, they have been called “native technologists,” meaning they use and create technology naturally and easily. In a marketplace that is becoming increasingly more digital, you can’t afford to ignore millennials. Any company who hopes to thrive must adapt and understand the values of millennials.


According to the Kauffman Foundation, 54% of millennials either want to start a business or already have started one. Many millennials grew up idolizing innovative entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. They saw these types of CEO’s change the way we do things, the way we see the world. It’s would be impossible not to be inspired by the advent of the iPhone, the internet, Facebook and iTunes. But for kids who grew up in this innovative atmosphere, it can be an obsession. Many millennials can’t sit still for long; they live in a world of believing they can change everything with a little ingenuity.

So, millennials want to work for companies that are up-to-date with technology. If you website is five years old, you might want to consider giving it a facelift. Workers in this age group can spot antiquated technology from a mile away. In your company culture, stress the value of moving forward, always re-inventing and re-imagining. Millennials respect this kind of environment and thrive in it.


We all remember the last recession and the toll it took on the American people. Millennials were mostly in high school and college at that time and they saw the older generation struggle with the pains of an economy that had bottomed out. Because the recession was caused by Wall Street, millennials are wary of big business and of being taken advantage of. Many look to buy smaller houses, own simpler cars or no car at all. They value travelling and experience over things, partly because they saw their parents’ things nearly drown them.

Companies need to show that they are transparent about their company culture and environment, they follow through with their promises, and there won’t be secrets unveiled once the candidate starts a job there. Backroom deals and golden parachutes won’t fly with this age group.

Giving Back

Millennials appreciate an environment where they have to opportunity to serve their community and the world at large. This can mean volunteering, corporate giving, sustainability efforts, nature conservation and more. When a company shows a strong effort on this front they can attract more millennial workers. This works both on the employee and consumer facing side of a company.

Jeff Fromm, from Forbes Magazine said, “Millennials have stronger connections with brands that promote sustainability in addition to corporate responsibility. The combination of these two values encourages companies to implement viable business practices throughout the entire ecosystem. That includes suppliers, consumers, employees and more. Consumers are at a point where it takes an incredible amount of effort to live a more sustainable life, so winning brands will show them how their products can help them in their efforts.”


43% of millennials value authenticity more than content in almost any context. They enjoy the human side of the company, the people and the culture, more than big offices and big paychecks. This is why more modern companies have open concept offices with long tables instead of offices or even cubicles. Millennials want to engage, to interact and have open conversations with coworkers on all levels.

This translates to the dress code of an office too. If the boss shows up wearing a suit and tie, most workers in this age group will be significantly less comfortable. Flannel shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes are the work uniforms of choice. This seems more authentic to them because the idea that you can do better work when you are dressed up doesn’t ring true. So, it translates that wearing business attire really is just about image and a false sense of importance.

Peer Affirmation

Social media has made millennials a lot more dependent on peer approval than ever before. They may choose a place to work based on how others perceive that place. For instance, a millennial may choose to work for a new modern company with an innovative product over a more established, older company which their friends perceive as stuffy, less changeable, less “cool.” They may make this choice even for less pay, that’s how important image is to them.

Also, the events your company hosts that are “grammable,” or post-worthy on social media, bring your employer brand up a notch. Millennials love the chance to brag to their peers about the trip their company sponsored to Park City or Lake Powell. Try to fit fun and youthful activities into your budget every year.

Relaxed Culture

Millennials reject their parents’ perceptions of traditional office culture. They like open concepts, flexible work schedules and, as we mentioned before, casual dress. The idea that people are more productive when they are given trust and freedom to work during the times when they feel the most productive is a popular one amongst this age group. 66% of millennials look for flexible work times and 56% prefer a flexible working place. They look for control over the work they do, for control over their own destiny.

Some companies are adopting different structures for PTO, and some are even offering unlimited PTO. As long as employees are getting their work done and the work is exemplary, the time they spend at their desk is less relevant. This model is gaining popularity and is likely to soon be the norm.

Use Them or Lose Them

While it’s a common reaction for the older generations to demand that millennials conform to the way it’s always been done, it’s not that simple anymore. In fact, 79% of millennials say they would quit their job and freelance in order to gain control over their time and lives. Unless companies adjust from the more traditional, rigid mindset of the 80’s and 90’s workplace, millennials will opt to work for themselves and this talented segment of the workforce will be even harder to hire.


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