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Following the shock triumph of Donald Trump people are still asking themselves, how did he win? One group of the electorate that Trump failed to win over and certainly did not help him to become President were the Millennial’s - those born in the period of 1982-2000. A survey conducted before the election showed that if only Millennial’s voted Clinton would have a 504 – 23 vote crushing victory, gaining 41 out of 50 states. In contrast the same survey found that if only those 65+ voted Trump would have 298 – 214 vote victory. This phenomenon of difference between generations has not only been seen over the pond but also in Britain. In the 2016 Brexit referendum 73% of Millennial’s voted to remain whereas 60% of those over 65 voted to leave.

The vast differences between older generations and the Millennial generation may hold potential difficulties in the workplace. While much of the current knowledge about Millennial’s is anecdotal what follows is an examination of the limited empirical research on this topic.

Millennial’s have been shown to engage in different forms of communication to the generations before them. Research has discovered a constant need for continual feedback, compared to Generation X and Baby Boomers – possibly down to a “trophies for all” upbringing and overprotective parents. When negative feedback is provided Millennial’s have been shown to respond best to assertion, but also sensitivity, and are most receptive when positive feedback accompanies.

An interesting point is that Millennial’s do not like the top down method of communication currently employed by many employers. They are far less intimidated by their leaders than previous generations and work best when they feel they are ‘in the loop’.

This new generation places far more value on their home life, compared to their work life than any generation before them. Research has shown that increased media coverage of key events during their development, such as terrorist attacks, has caused an increased mortality salience (reminders that we will eventually die) and in turn a revaluation of priorities.

In line with this emphasis on home life research has indicated a preference for flexible working. PwC found that the companies with strong flexible structures such as Apple and Google, who do not have historical restraints of “how it used to be done”, have the best Millennial retention.

Expectations and Aspirations
There seems to be a general conception that Millennial’s have high expectations of the workplace, relating back to their sheltered upbringing in a time of relative prosperity. Research by Ng (2010) has shown that in terms of salary expectations new graduates do not have high expectations of their initial wage, but expect a 68% increase in 5 years, which is unrealistic.

Millennial’s want leaders who are forward thinking, looking for continual innovation and aren’t afraid to take risks. They also expect their leaders to offer them development opportunities, with research showing higher retention of Millennial’s when they perceive they are being invested in with learning and professional opportunities.

How to be an Employer of Choice for the Millennial Generation?

● Encourage open-communication. Create ‘bottom-up’ channels of communication which allow individuals to give feedback regardless of their position in the organisation.

● Introduce flexi-working. Allow individuals to work from home and give them more control over and trust in their roles. Oseland (2012) found that flexi-working actually increases productivity and staff satisfaction.

● Create realistic career development opportunities. Be clear on development opportunities from the start of employment and keep staff informed when these change to help create more realistic expectations.

● Increase staff engagement. Provide job autonomy, performance feedback, task variety and responsibility.

To read more of Laura William's blogs on business psychology topics, click here.

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