When I present a workshop about different generations, I always start by sharing a handful of sand. I talk about how what I am about to discuss is “the beach” and I am aware that it is made up of millions of grains of sand (individuals). I acknowledge that not everything I will say applies to everyone, but sometimes it is helpful to look at the big picture and to learn from some generalities.

Such is the case in today’s dot about Millennials. There is disagreement on when this generation precisely begins – 1980, ’81 or ’82 are most common – but there is no denying that the members of the Millennials (Generation Y) are influential. Millennials were born from 1981-ish through 1995-ish and are now the largest generation. Those in their late twenties and thirties are rising into leadership positions in companies and organizations and having a significant impact on cultures.

Millennials are driven by the need to make a difference – so your organization’s mission and purpose matter. A lot. You will be most successful in attracting and retaining Millennial talent if you can inspire them and provide work that has meaning to them. Following Simon Sinek’s advice to “start with why” is a good mantra to appeal to this generation.

Millennials are also motivated by learning – wanting continual opportunities to develop and grow. Organizations who invest in professional development and allow employees to perform community service will be seen as most desirable. Give your Millennial staff new assignments and engage them on diverse committees – both to gain their contribution and to maintain their interest in the work.

Of course, Millennials grew up in a technologically robust environment with computers, texting, gaming, and social media prevalent. This technological connection carries over to their desire for frequent, instant feedback. Those supervising the generation should expect to dedicate more time to communicating and more funds to technology if they seek to satisfy this generation.

Finally, organizations who provide flexibility will be the most successful. Millennials see their work and personal life as blended – and they want flexible work arrangements, collaborative workspaces and the opportunity to use their technology to be productive in ways more amenable to them.

Work that makes a difference, with on-going professional development, frequent feedback, collaboration and flexibility – it sounds like organizations would be wise to provide this kind of culture for all their employees, not just the Millennials. The difference is that Millennials who don’t find this will switch jobs and leave, unlike previous generations that stuck it out – Boomers for life, and Generation X for longer.

If you work to make your Millennials happy, all of your organization should be happy too!

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