Let's get one thing straight.

Like ever generation before them, millennials are made up of unique individuals, each with their own personalities and preferences. (Not to mention the fact that they're constantly changing.) But that doesn't mean that data can't reveal certain trends of this generation. And these trends can help you make informed decisions, regardless of whether you're employer or employee.

Gallup recently released a report entitled, How Millennials Want to Work and Live. (Although the report doesn't specify a sample size, other recent analyses by Gallup claim to draw on data collected from roughly 175,000 persons per year.)

So, what did the data reveal about millennials and their habits?

When it comes to work, millennials are the least engaged generation. Gallup cites that only 29% of millennials are engaged in their work, defined as "emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job and company."

You may not find that so alarming, especially since the numbers for other generations aren't so far off. Gen Xers clocked in at 32% engagement, Baby Boomers at 33%.

But things get interesting when we consider what millennials are willing to do about it. Gallup's report goes on to highlight that:

  • 21% of millennials report changing jobs within the last year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same.
  • 50% of millennials--compared with 60% of non-millennials--strongly agree that they plan to be working at their company one year from now.
  • 60% of millennials say they are open to a different job opportunity (15 percentage points higher than the percentage of non-millennial workers who say the same)
  • 36% of millennials report that they will look for a job with a different organization in the next 12 months if the job market improves (compared with 21% of non-millennials who say the same)

What does all of this mean?

Here are the takeaways.

1. For employers: Millennial workers simply aren't satisfied with their current situation at work.

This comes as no surprise. I've personally consulted for dozens of companies who work hard to attract new talent with compensation and benefits, but then drop the ball when it comes to the simple things needed to keep that talent around.

So what exactly are millennials looking for?

The exact same things as the rest of us, namely:

How can you satisfy these basic desires of millennial employees--and everyone else?

2. For millennials: There's great opportunity to stand out among your peers.

If you happen to be one more disengaged millennial in a sea of indifferent employees, consider how taking a renewed interest in your work could lead to bigger and better opportunities.

For example, your manager or team lead may be frustrated with his or her efforts to motivate the rest of your team. Putting forth extra effort to make your manager's job easier may lead to more of the seven basic desires most of us crave (noted above). Not to mention it inspires goodwill and gives you added leverage when it's time to negotiate higher pay or more benefits.

And what if there are things you'd love to change about your job?

Instead of just living with it, brainstorm your own solution that would make your work life better. As long as it doesn't require moving mountains to implement, your manager may be impressed enough with your initiative that he or she will let you try it out.

This could lead to all kinds of good things: increased excitement about your work, a new element of trust to the relationship between you and your team lead, and potential for a great learning experience, just to mention a few.

(For more tips on how to communicate effectively with your manager about something like this, here are some added suggestions.)

Parting Thoughts

There's no denying it, every millennial is a unique individual, just like every generation before them.

But by identifying the trends this generation is following as a whole, you gain valuable insights that give you a unique advantage--and can be used to inform your personal strategy.

Published on: Sep 22, 2016
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