What Millennials Want

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Mentor well, promote often, and let people work from home once in a while. That's the message of new research into the workplace aspirations of the 18- to 32-year-old set.

So-called millennials also crave a sense that they're working for a higher purpose.

"Corporate social responsibility and good citizenship are key to the millennial generation," says Valerie Grillo, chief diversity officer at American Express, who spoke on a panel this fall at an event in New York hosted by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) to present its survey findings.

But catering to this group isn't always easy for older people, who say millennials are, on the whole, more selfish, out of touch and lazy than other generations. (For example, more than two-thirds of respondents in the EY survey, which polled 1,215 adults from around the country and across industry sectors, describe millennials as entitled and concerned primarily with their own promotion; only half say this about Generation Xers and only 27 percent say this about boomers.)

The survey results highlight the difficulty of managing multigenerational groups of employees, with their differing workplace expectations. Nearly 40 percent of millennials say they would leave a job if it didn't offer flexibility, for example. Only a third of Gen Xers and a quarter of boomers say the same.

Panelist Kathryn Minshew, the founder and CEO of a career website called The Muse, says many companies think they can win over young people by making their offices seem fun and trendy. But Minshew, a millennial herself, says a rec room in the office won't cut it. "A ping-pong table is not a culture," she says.

Millennials switch jobs, on average, every two years, versus every seven years for boomers, she says. Minshew blames the turnover on employers, saying many fail to help millennials improve their skills and get promoted. "The onus is on companies to train us," she says.

 

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