Millennials In The Workplace: They Don't Need Trophies But They Want Reinforcement

Jeff Fromm, CONTRIBUTOR, Nov 2015  Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials will be the largest generation in the workforce by then end of 2015 (which is rapidly approaching). This should not be shocking considering Millennials are quickly becoming the most influential population in our market today as they are graduating from college and reaching their peak employment years.

These Millennials are entering the workforce and they are bringing with them a new perception of what office life should be like and how relationships between employers and employees should be structured. In order to create the most Millennial friendly workplace, there are a few things you should know about the generation that will represent nearly 75 percent of the work force by 2030.

1. They want to grow, even if that means growing out of your company.

Can you guess the average tenure of Millennial employees? Two years. In the span of a professional career, two years seems to hardly make dent. In comparison, the average tenure for Gen X employees is five years and seven years for Baby Boomers. One of the primary reasons Millennials are more likely to change jobs is because they are not willing to stick around if they do not believe they are receiving any personal benefit or growth.

Millennials embrace a strong entrepreneurial mindset and they are often on the lookout for opportunities that can continue to move them up the ladder, even if that means up and out of their current position. As digital natives, Millennials have grown up in an era where the number of resources they have is almost infinite making them more efficient problem solvers and critical thinkers.

In order to keep up with this fast moving generation, don’t slow them down. If you notice your Millennial employees looking for more advanced opportunities give them more challenging work or encourage them to keep moving. Sound crazy? It’s not. If a Millennial employee feels like their bosses are invested in their personal growth they will be more likely to develop a stronger relationship not just with the company but with the people in it.

2. They want a coach, not a boss.

Piggy backing off of the previous insight, Millennial employees expect greater accessibility to the leadership in their offices and are looking for more mentorship rather than just direction. Research shows that the number one reason Millennials are likely to leave their current job is because of their boss. Creating an environment where Millennial employees feel supported and valued by the leadership will lead to increased productivity and valuable relationships.

That means that employee/employer relationships must extend beyond just the formal annual work review. According to a recent survey conducted by TriNet, a company dedicated to providing HR solutions, 69 percent of Millennials see their company’s review process as flawed. A major reason for this is because of the lack of feedback throughout the year. The survey also found that three out four Millennials feel in dark about their performance and nearly 90 percent would feel more confident if they had ongoing check-ins with their bosses.

“The more frequent the check-ins are, the better,” said Rob Hernandez, Perform Product Manager at Trinet. “The biggest issue with the annual review process is the formality. There is often more emphasis on reflection rather than opportunities for improvement in the future.”

3. They don’t want to waste time on the little things.

According to another survey from TriNet, business expense reporting procedures by some companies have caused negative impact on Millennials. This includes their personal finances and ability to take advantage of professional opportunities – leading some Millennials to look for other jobs. Three out of five respondents to the survey reported that they have had problems paying a personal bill because they were waiting for an expense reimbursement from their employer and Millennials are 21 percent more likely than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers to have difficulty paying a personal bill because they were waiting to be reimbursed for business expenses.

More than half of employees who responded to the survey also said they have given up the opportunity to attend a conference, training or other professional opportunities because their employer’s reimbursement policy made it too difficult. We already know that professional development is vital to Millennial employment satisfaction. While many employers are willing to invest in expensive growth opportunities, their outdated reimbursement processes could be turning this important benefit from tempting to tedious.

It is surprising that any employer should lose Millennial employees due to archaic expense reporting policies when there are inexpensive, reliable and efficient expense reporting tools readily available. The most successful brands with high Millennial retention are adopting a cloud-based app, with a mobile component, that allows them to fully automate the expense-reporting process…from anywhere. Expense-reporting technology cuts down tremendously on administrative time, reimbursement time, human errors and potentially the loss of valuable Millennial employees.

4. They want balance and democracy.

It is no secret that Millennials have inspired a new wave of consumer democracy in our market today. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at some of the fastest growing brands. Uber, GoPro, Airbnb, and more have all built their companies on the idea of consumer equality in regards to accessibility and shared consciousness. For Millennials, there is no reason why these same principles cannot be transitioned into the workplace.

Millennials have very much re-imagined the 40-hour work week with many employers working to provide more benefits and waste less time commuting –a win for both the enlightened company, as well as the employee. An estimated three million Americans work from home and that number is expected to increase 63 percent over the next five years. According to Pew Research Center, “if they were able to make their current job more flexible, 64 percent of Millennials want to occasionally work from home and 66 percent would like to shift their hours.”

This is not a result of Millennial laziness. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Millennials base their performance on output rather than time spent on a project. By focusing on number of hours rather than quality of work, employers are setting a standard that can neither be beaten nor lost. Millennial employees are happy to work long hours on the projects that require additional time however, they do not want to sit around the office until 5pm if their work was completed two hours earlier.

While keeping these four things is mind is imperative as you start to increase the number of Millennials in your office, the most important thing to remember is that Millennials no longer work for you; they work with you.

As the most collaborative and inclusive generation to date, these young adults expect their place of work to embrace the same idealism and values they hold so dear. Creating an environment that aligns with the participation economy will be your biggest opportunity to create a company where Millennials not only want to work, but seek out as a top professional career.

January 29, 2014

The first month of the new year is almost in the rear view mirror and most of us feel like we have our "feet under us" from the holiday and start of the new year hustle and bustle.  We now have a little more breathing room to get clear on their intentions professionally and personally for the coming year.  
I wanted to post an excellent article on by Vivian Giang that re-iterates the coaching foundations that are "true" for great leaders...accountability, intention, values, powerful listening and conversations, importance of work/life balance, vision and creating a core support system of trusted 

March 15, 2013

We are all feeling more signs of the economy continuing to recover from the initial hit back in 2007. This is good news for thousands of people who have been "biding time" with their current employer until the workplace environment was more susceptible to good opportunities.

I was surfing the web doing research for a program I'm creating and I stumbled across some eye opening statistics about employees in the workplace. Randstad, the world's second-largest staffing company, just released survey results showing that 40% of workers are planning to look for a new job in the next six months.

The Right Management Group conducted a survey that showed 84% of employees say they're going to be looking for a new job in 2012. And Jobvite, a recruiting platform for the social web, released results of their 2012 survey and found 69% of employed workers are actively seeking new job opportunities through social media. "Inside every employed worker is a job seeker," says Dan Finnigan, president and chief executive of Jobvite. "Because of pent-up demand now that the economy is growing, those workers are looking for the next step in their career."

The tides are starting to turn back in favor of the employees; employers take note that retention is going to become paramount in the coming years. Even though employers are spending more dollars on employee engagement, leadership development and other professional development programs- are they really hitting the mark? Many companies implement these new programs and policies, so why are the majority of employees still seeking other opportunities?

Maybe it’s the new normal in the 21st century? The Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010 released a report that looked at the number of times people changed jobs, the average was 11 times. That was only a small segment surveyed in the young baby boomer age (those born between 1957 and 1964), so imagine how generation X, Y & Z feel?

How do you really keep employees engaged at work? Bonus and salary increases, leadership development and creativity encouraged by each employee are helpful but what really builds loyalty and excitement to come to work every day?

Successful leaders know that engagement is built one team at a time, one person at a time. And each person has different needs and expectations. Leaders must interact with their team members to assess the team's situation and needs. They respond directly to team members' need to belong and make a difference as well as reinforce their sense of self-worth. Strategic planning can jump start a conversation with employees about engagement and work, to build their engagement over time.

These three strategies can help you understand engagement process:
  1. Breakdowns- find out where breakdowns exist.
  2. Breakthroughs- communicate and coach with team members one on one about engagement strategies.
  3. Integrate- empower team members to communicate, exhibit leadership and better collaboration. Keep in mind that engagement is an ongoing process that builds over time. Its critical to find ways to excite employees, not just have them engaged. This up leveling of engagement makes a dramatic difference to the bottom line!

Feb 20, 2013

Engagement: noun, 1. the act of engaging or the state of being engaged. How engaged do you feel in life?  Engagement is an important concept to pay attention to and understand how to find a balance.

This brings up an interesting question: What are you engaging in?  We live multi-faceted lives in the 21st century, so we are actively engaged in multi-areas at the same time.  As much as it may be tempting to only engage in the areas that are going well, we need to stay engaged in the uncomfortable areas in our lives. And be aware there is a price to pay when we are too engaged in certain aspects of our lives- "fixing others" or external DRAMA that shows up in all of our lives. Striving for a healthy balance is best and here are some questions to help you decide how to find that balance.

There are no right or wrong answers, and the answers change from time to time so be willing to honestly listen and notice how you feel when you answer these questions:
  1. Are you engaging in people and circumstances that bring you happiness, make you feel good about yourself and bring positive energy?
  2. Is anyone draining the energy out of you? Who?  Why?
  3. Do you feel energized and inspired with the people you are spending the most time with these days?
  4. Are you feeling low energy or down lately?   Is it related to work or your private life?
  5. Are you using social media as a replacement for more traditional relationships?
Disengagement: noun, 1. the act or process of disengaging or the state of being disengaged.

The next question is... Have you disengaged with the people closest to you?  Are you pulling away and keeping your thoughts to yourself lately?  At times disengagement is unhealthy and can put you in a downward spiral, but other times it is very healthy to protect our own energy and enthusiasm.  We all have highs and lows and just because a family member or friend is in a low spot, doesn't mean that you have to circle the drain with them.  In fact, the most loving thing you can do for yourself and the other person is to disengage in their anxiety or drama.  As flight attendants say before take off..."put your oxygen mask on first before assisting those around you".
This can be hard to do if you are a giver.  There is a difference between disengaging to escape or not being supportive, from disengaging to not feed drama or negative attitudes. Some key questions to ask before disengaging:
  1. Is this a situation that is just a disappointment and I need to find a way to move on?
  2. Do I need to just distant myself from a particular person b/c they do not bring out the best in me or make me feel good?
  3. Is this person constantly stirring the pot, making accusations, blaming and making life complicated?
  4. Is this a situation that requires some outside support to help navigate through emotionally or mentally?  (We all have them and successful people know when to get help).
The choice to engage or disengage comes up daily.  Take some time to honestly look at the people and circumstances in your life and decide if you need to create a better balance.  I have found that these choices of engagement have a dramatic impact on how happy we are in life and at work!

Jan 3, 2013

Best wishes for a happy New Year! Full speed ahead in 2013 since the world didn't end on Dec 21st. Are you ready for the many ways that will change in the next 365 days? Some will be within our control and some will be completely out of our control- like Super Storm Sandy, Fiscal Cliff issues, New Town shooting, corporate mergers and relationships beginning and ending.

We have come to accept in the 21st century, that we are constantly re-aligning and finding a new normal personally and professionally. January is a perfect time to reflect and do a "year in review" look at your life in 2012. What successes and wins do you want to celebrate and what disappointments and setbacks can you "let go" and leave in the past?

Sometimes we are in the zone and on the right path, but often we come to forks in the road or we continue down paths that are bringing us more setbacks and disappointments. How do we make the right decision or how do we change directions? These are the big challenges in life; the thoughts that keep us up at night, the questions that create overwhelm and can keep us stuck!

As the late Joseph Campbell said, "We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."  How do we accept the life that is waiting for us in the future? How do we know the answers and see it when it appears? The easiest sign for opportunity is when you feel fear internally. Great, right? Positive and negative changes have the same feeling- fear, anxiousness, tingling in your tummy.  That feeling that something really bad or really good may be happening.

When we have had a year of more setbacks than successes, we tend to think that all change will be negative, so we try to avoid any change. Rationally we know this doesn't make sense, but mentally and emotionally it becomes the devil we know. We know change is going to happen regardless, so why not look for a positive? If we had a 10-Step program for people that don't like change...the first step would be acceptance. It is going to happen, so why not have some say in it?

For those of you left-brain thinkers - I'm talking about Neuroscience and Positive Psychology. Change creates the instinctual feeling of "flight or fight"- so our natural response is not to embrace change. We either want to resist it, ignore it or escape from it- how many of these are healthy since we no longer need to run from lions and tigers? Now you know why organizational change is so hard in corporations, organizations and governments and why changing habits in our personal lives can be so hard!

Tips for Change

  1. What are your values that you make work and life decisions? (Knowing this is the number one way to stay grounded and find your path when there is change or chaos.) You are thinking...I know my values. Really- what are they? Top 5- write them down and post them by your computer to start off your day reading them.
  2. Get curious and find the silver lining. What does this change mean in the short term... and in the long term? The irony of change is that if you like the benefits in the short term, then you probably wont like the long term and vice-versa. (Ex: Going on a skiing vacation out West is awesome, but coming back and paying the bills can be painful or being let go from a company can hurt the ego and wallet but it gives you an opportunity to get a better job in a new environment).
  3. What is your attitude? When things change- do you complain or look for the positives? When change is not something you are initially happy about- do you become a "victim" or do you become resilient? The research from neuroscience and positive psychology strongly support that a positive, optimistic and resilient attitude are the keys to being happy! Life is short...who doesn't want to be happy?
  4. Who is your support system to get you through the change/chaos? No successful person gets there by herself/himself!
  5. Acknowledge that some work is required for change! It may be mental, emotional and/or physical. There is always work required for change, and often we have to work harder to create positive change than negative.

December 29, 2012


I just launched a brand new program in 2013 for professional business women.  As women, we are masters at giving to others but how well do we give to ourselves?  The New Year is right around the corner and I have created an amazing new program to address that very question- "What's next for me in 2013?"    This program is for discerning, professional women who are looking to take their careers and personal lives to the next level in 2013!

I have spent the past 3 months creating this program with an amazing Branding Expert, Jennifer Ransaw Smith, who owns a full service branding agency in Howard County.  She and I met in a Woman's Mastermind group last year and we wanted to create a similar experience for local, professional women to support and transform their careers and personal lives this coming year.

Are you ready to radically transform your life in 2013?
Are you looking for a career transition?
Is it time to get your financial house in order?
How is the passion working in your life? 

Can you visualize where you will be this time in 2014? Join this exclusive Woman's only Club and transform your life in 2013!
Website Builder