Millennials already are the largest segment in the workplace. Within the next two years, 50 percent of the U.S. workforce is expected to be made up of Millennials. It will be 75 percent by 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Millennials are enjoying their unified might, all the mightier in today’s current tight labor market. They ARE your work-force, this is your new business reality.  They will force the workplace to adapt to their desires as much or more than they will adapt to it. How do you attract the best of the available talent pool?


What Do Millennials Want?

John Lennon may have come from an earlier generation, but with this quote he is definitely singing the millennials tune…. “When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

Millennials Flip the Work Hierarchy

Online media website covering food, drink, travel and entertainment Thrillist founder Ben Lerer, gets it, “The people who work for you aren’t building a company for you, they are building it for themselves – they are the center of their own universe. Just because you are the CEO, doesn’t mean they are coming to work every day to make you happy. They want to be happy and it’s your job to keep them that way.”

Ideal Millennial Era Employers

These are the magic minimum five requirements employers must meet for a happy millennial workforce.

  1. Get the Basics Right: Competitive Pay Plus Performance Rewards

    Every last one of the millennials we interviewed told us they know what they’re worth (easy to find out online) and expect it. To wit….

    • I don’t need to make a million dollars; but know what my work is worth and what I bring to the table. I have financial obligations to fulfill. If that can happen, then I’m happy. – Ryan Still Maintenance Manager, Portland Bottling Company
    • When it comes to compensation it’s important that my salary is competitive for the industry and location standards and also adequately reflects my work value and contribution to the company. — Food Scientist
    • Performance-based pay.  Career path or career growth. – Engineering Manager at premier Northwest Food Processing Brand
  1. Flexible Work Hours

The lack of time off and work flexibility can be a deal-breaker for many millennials. From their perspective, it’s more about getting the job done than working rigid hours – or way too many hours.

The millennial Director of Innovation at a large consumer packaged goods company shared her thoughts…. “I think our generation is more focused on being efficient with our time and being focused on just getting the work done rather than showing up to an office at a certain time.”

Ryan agrees. “With my generation, I see much more emulsion of professional and personal lives. We prefer more flexible hours so we can work as needed and always maintain a certain level of connectivity to work.”

As a millennial manager of millennials who runs a family business with her father, Sarah Gregory supports flexibility as a practical business approach. “Catering to the employee to keep them happy is going to keep them around longer than pissing them off. Give the extra two days off so they can go on a quick getaway. A happy employee who knows the work is much easier and profitable than an unhappy employee that will leave, and you will have to retrain someone new all over again.”

Even in the food production industry, where jobs don’t lend themselves well to flexible hours, where a body needs to be at a particular site at a particular time for the work to be done, employers are being challenged to come up with solutions for a generation that’s less willing to punch the clock for work. Savvy companies are having those problem-solving discussions now.

Twelve-hour days do not equal a better worker, just a less efficient one. I want to work at a company that wants to take care of their people as much as they want to take care of their customer.” – Northwest Foods Engineering Manager

  1. Purposeful Employment: Making a Difference

Millennials do not believe just any job will do. They want to make their mark in ways that matter not just to the company, but to the world (or at least their little corner of it).

“It would be hard for me to thrive in an environment where I’m not passionate about the company mission, vision, product, or service,” declares Blake Wetzel, a Seattle tech Talent Acquisition Manager. She aligns with employers who offer “Support and collaboration, ability to make an impact, and work-life balance.”

I want to be proud of the product. Or working for a well-recognized company like my current company that makes best-in-class products.” – Northwest Foods Engineering Manager

I believe in being challenged/challenging others, loyalty, resiliency, and having fun. I don’t need a company to have the same values as I do – but there does need to be guiding principles that the team can rally around. By working for a company with values, I can then use my own to help drive me and my team towards the company’s.” — Ryan Still Maintenance Manager, Portland Bottling Company

  1. Work Culture: Respectful, Team-oriented — and Fun!

Before the Boomers, there was The Silent Generation. And then there’s their antithesis – the Millennials. They want to stand up for what they believe is right and be heard and they expect the same up and down the hierarchy.  What’s more, millennials believe work and fun should not be mutu