Millennials have been unfairly portrayed as spoiled, lazy, and entitled, but the reality behind this stereotype is much different. Understanding Millennials and the unique qualities they bring with them to the workplace is essential for the long-term success of every business. As Scott Pitasky, Executive Vice President and Chief Partner Resource Officer of Starbucks says, "The workforce of today is more diverse, complex, and challenging than ever before. Over the next 10 years, organizations big and small may succeed or fail based on how they embrace the Millennial generation."

In their book, What Millennials Want from Work, authors Jennifer Deal and Alec Levenson distill the data from surveys of more than 25,000 Millennials in 22 countries to develop a comprehensive, scientifically accurate picture of what really motivates Millennials around the world. According to Deal and Levenson, Millennials want 5 things in particular at work, and if you can provide it, you'll gain their loyalty and engagement.

1. Provide workplace flexibility

Because they don't tend to separate life and work, Millennials are especially concerned about managing their work and personal lives so that neither suffers. It's no surprise then that 95 percent of Millennials want the option to occasionally work outside the office. Smart companies give their employees greater latitude to choose when and where work gets done.

2. Provide adequate support and feedback

Millennials love to learn new things, and grow in their jobs and responsibilities. Smart companies provide their employees with a steady stream of new assignments and learning opportunities--ensuring that people don't get stuck in work ruts with little hope of advancing their knowledge or responsibilities. And smart managers support their people and provide them with valuable and timely feedback on their performance.

3. Coach instead of micromanage

Millennials value autonomy--they want to be given an assignment and then be trusted to complete it correctly and on time. No one likes to be micromanaged--Millennials least of all--and doing so is a sure way to lose their loyalty and their engagement. Coach them to success in their jobs instead of micromanaging everything they do. Your people will be happier in their jobs, and your organization will prosper.

4. Offer competitive salaries

Many Millennials entered the workforce during the Great Recession, and they saw their parents, colleagues, and friends lose their jobs and their financial stability. As a result, 84% of Millennials are worried about ensuring their financial stability during retirement, and 56% feel stress about paying down their debt. Smart companies help their employees gain a greater sense of financial security by compensating their people well--not just those at the top of the organization, but starting from the bottom up.

5. Provide opportunities to contribute to society

One stereotype of Millennials is definitely true: they care about doing good and making the world a better place. As a result, they want to work for companies that can help them achieve these goals. Smart companies provide their employees with opportunities to contribute to society. When they do, they gain the loyalty and engagement of their Millennials, and from their other employees too.

Published on: Dec 30, 2015