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The Top 5 Things Millennials Want in the Workplace in 2022

The Top 5 Things Millennials Want in the Workplace in 2022

How to increase the odds Gen Y will stay—and thrive—at your organization.

Purpose is on the minds of many.

It can bring great satisfaction to your work or drive you to look for a new job.

Organizations on this year’s Best Workplaces for Millennials™ list understand the critical role meaning plays for Gen Y—the largest generation currently in the workforce.

These winning workplaces, in both the large company and small- and medium-sized company categories, make an effort to give their younger workforce a sense of purpose and, in return, experience higher retention, pride, and endorsement.

Why purpose in particular?

It’s the biggest gap in the employee experience among millennials compared with their older colleagues, according to research from Great Place to Work®, whose analysis of anonymous surveys and data from more than 1 million U.S. employees at great workplaces determined this year’s list.

Only 79% of millennials say their work has special meaning, compared with 90% of baby boomers. For millennials (and their younger Gen Z brethren), purpose affects how they see their future. They’re willing to walk away from jobs that lack meaning.

“There’s a lot millennials can teach companies about work,” says Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. “How they spend their time and who they spend it with matters to them, as it should to all of us. Help them find meaning in their work. Give them a reason, many reasons, to be proud to work for you—and they’ll stay working for you.”

When millennials believe their work has meaning—that it’s more than “just a job”—they are three times more likely to stay. And they’re nearly two times more likely to stay if they feel their voice is valued, regardless of their position. (Yet another reason to create Employee Resource Groups to facilitate a sense of belonging for this generation, as winners Baird and PeopleTec offer.)

"Help them find meaning in their work. Give them a reason, many reasons, to be proud to work for you—and they’ll stay working for you.”

Millennials aren’t unique in wanting meaning in their work. Purpose is a key driver of what keeps people of all generations at work, which only underscores the importance of closing the gap between generations.

A bar graph comparing millennial experience to other generations on fairness and work-life balance.

What millennials want

There’s a lot on employers’ plates, with all four generations currently in the workforce (Gen Z, millennials, Gen X and baby boomers). Companies that recognize this will ensure one generation doesn’t get lost in the mix.

Part of leadership training at David Weekly Homes (the fourth best large workplace for millennials) includes training on how to communicate with different generations. Similarly, a popular course at fifth-ranked Slalom Consulting’s crowd-sourced learning system is “Navigating our Multi-Generational Workforce.”

That said, out of all the generations, millennials and Gen Z are least likely to stay at their jobs. Even at great workplaces, only 81% of millennials and 77% of Gen Z say they intend to work at their jobs for a long time, compared with 90% of baby boomers. At an average U.S. workplace, regardless of generation, only 52% plan to stay.

While purpose might be the biggest gap in employee experience for younger workers, it’s not the only area that needs work. Giving workers a sense of purpose is good, but what’s great is to close all the gaps and create a great workplace for all. There will be quite the payoff for companies who do.

Millennials who say they work at a great workplace are five times more likely to endorse their company and two times more likely to stay with their organization. They are four times more likely to endorse their company when they are proud to tell others they work there, and nearly four times more likely to recommend their employer if they intend to work at their company a long time.

In addition to purpose, here are the other four areas to focus on:

1. Distribute a fair share of profits.

One of the biggest gaps in millennials’ experience at work is around fairness. More than any other generation, millennials are experiencing a gap when it comes to feeling that they receive a fair share of profits, ranking 8 percentage points lower than baby boomers and 7 points lower than Gen X.

Profit sharing is also the lowest of all measures of the overall workplace experience for millennials.

2. Pay them what they’re worth.

Another measure of fairness at work—fair pay—was 8 percentage points lower for millennials than baby boomers, and the second lowest of all measures of millennials’ workplace experience. Millennials and Gen Z are tied, with 71% saying they receive fair pay.

GPTW Milllennials Article InArticle Graphics 800 4

3. Set clear expectations.

More than any other generation, millennials lack clarity around expectations. Clarity isn’t a “nice to have.” It’s a “must have” if you want to outperform your competitors and experience strong business outcomes.

Harvard Business School (HBS) researchers, using Great Place to Work’s extensive database, found that companies whose employees experienced purpose at work and believed their leaders set clear direction and expectations, outperformed the stock market by 6.9%.

4. Offer work-life balance.

Looking across generations, millennials are falling behind baby boomers by 6 percentage points at 79% when it comes to work-life balance, and 5 percentage points, also at 79%, when it comes to feeling their workplace is psychologically and emotionally healthy. Taking their needs for work-life balance seriously will help millennials experience a healthy workplace.

Great starts here

To find out how your company can become Great Place to Work-Certified™ and apply to this or other Best Workplaces lists, contact us.


Roula Amire