Top 10 Millennial Traits

Top 10 Millennial Traits

Top 10 Millennial Traits

Updated 20 May 2021

Written by Amy Dawson
Amy Dawson

Whilst we may think of millennials as the youth of today, the truth is that this is a generation born between 1981 and 1996 and who range in age from 24 to 39.

Therefore, a significant number of millennials are now starting to move into mid-to-senior managerial positions and within just four short years, they will occupy 75% of the workforce.

You may have come across a variety of memes that seemingly poke fun at millennial characteristics; this is because this generation can be quite different from previous generations.

The growth of popular culture, the changing technologies, and the different political and economic landscapes mean that millennials have grown up with a vastly different upbringing than the older generations.

For example, millennials have generally grown up with computers and the internet, and may naturally have greater technical capabilities than others because it’s what they have always known.

Millennials also differ because they have had the opportunity to relocate for new jobs. This is a generation not tied down to the same location. They have been encouraged to aim high and do whatever it takes to reach their ambitions.

But, similarly, this is also a generation who wants to be more than just an employee.

Unlike the Wall Street banker-types from the 1980s, where material possessions meant everything, this is a generation who have shunned materialistic principles and are instead driven by their morals and ethics.

Millennials want to feel that they can genuinely advocate for their employer. Therefore, they will actively seek out job opportunities that they feel match their expectations and personal values.

Understanding the Traits of the Millennial Workforce

Historically, workers took a job for life. It was not uncommon for individuals to start and finish their careers with the same company. They took advantage of the hierarchal management structure to work their way up to the top and shape the company in the way that they had always known.

But today’s workforce is vastly different.

The millennial generation understands that experience can be translated, skills can be taken into new companies, and businesses thrive on workforces who can bring something new to the table.

As such, it is estimated that a millennial is only likely to stay in their current job role for an average of three years, at which point the individual is likely to want to spread their wings.

They may want to try working in a more senior role or a similar role in a different profession. They may even seek a career change to help them achieve their dreams.

They are not afraid to go for what they want and they see each job role as a stepping-stone to further their ambition.

It is no surprise that millennial workforces are known as the generation of job hoppers.

Millenial Misconceptions

There are also many misconceptions about the characteristics of a millennial workforce.

As mentioned above, this is a generation who has shunned the excesses of the 1980s and 1990s. They are not necessarily looking to earn their fortune. Instead, this is a generation who puts others first. They want to work for firms that offer positive work-life balances.

They want to be employed by businesses that operate ethically and morally and are making a valuable contribution to the world.

They are less impressed by the way that things ‘have always been done’ and are more concerned with the ‘ways things should be done’.

They have an emphasis on innovation and creativity.

For older employees, this attitude shift has been difficult to adapt to.

Its potentially why older workers have labeled some millennial workers as ‘lazy’, ‘entitled’ and even negatively ‘disruptive’.

They feel that these younger workers may not be honoring traditions or paying their dues. They have worries that this is a workforce who are not prepared to spend the time working their way up the career ladder; instead, they are too busy leapfrogging from job to job to listen to their elders.

But this is not necessarily true.

The older generations have grown up with the intrinsic belief that a job is for life. They may not have the same desire for innovation or an understanding of how to help a business adapt and move with the times. Their reluctance to embrace change can be a contributory factor to businesses struggling.

With this in mind, millennial employees bring a greater variety of skills to the factory floor than ever before.

10 Millennial Traits You Need to Know Before You Hire

If you are looking to expand your business and invest in new teams, you must understand the characteristics of millennial workers.

The likelihood is that your next recruit will be of this generation.

Understanding how they work, what they are motivated by and how to use their prior experience can be the best way for you to ensure that their appointment is a success.

Here is a list of 10 positive millennial characteristics that you should be aware of before you embark on a recruitment drive.

1. They Want to Experience Financial Stability

It may sound surprising to learn that millennial workers are not actually striving to make their first million dollars.

This is not because they lack ambition. Instead, it is because this generation is acutely aware that the economy could change at any moment.

The first cohort of millennial workers have lived through two serious global recessions (the 1990s and 2008) and they witnessed first-hand how student loan repayments, rising house prices and fewer job opportunities could directly lead to poverty.

The economy is now truly global, and economic decisions that take place overseas can have enormous impacts elsewhere. Therefore, millennials are more concerned about ensuring that they have the financial stability or a package of essential employee benefits to live within their means.

They may live at home longer so that they can save money to buy a home rather than rent, or they may eschew luxury items that may have seemed commonplace in the 1980s or 1990s.

2. They Are Tech-Savvy

Over the last 20 years, there has been a digital revolution. Those born from 1980 onwards have grown up with rapidly developing technology. They understand the benefits of automation and artificial intelligence and they know how to take advantage of online opportunities.

The technical knowhow of the millennial generation is not limited to opening a PDF or seamlessly setting up wireless networks. It is also about having an intrinsic understanding of how to use changing technologies to assist and enhance your business.

Millennials are distinct in their love of innovation and their ability to work creatively, and they are actively seeking to work for brands that showcase the same desire.

For example, a millennial worker with a love of cars is far more likely to want to work for an innovative brand such as Tesla compared to an iconic but traditional firm such as Ford.

Millennials will likely struggle to work in firms that have not embraced technology. They could get frustrated with a seeming lack of progress and may choose to move elsewhere into a job that is more suited to the 21st century.

Top 10 Millennial Traits

3. They Have a Collaborative Mindset and Are Team Orientated

Older workers may view millennials as ‘narcissistic’ or ‘idealists’ who have no idea how the real world works.

The truth is that this is a generation who are unlikely to want to take individual credit for successes. Instead, they are more focused on working collaboratively with others and working as part of a team.

Many millennial workers will have a strong understanding of where their skills lie and will not shy away from asking for help from other experts. They are more concerned about making sure that a project is completed and achieves its full potential rather than holding up a project because they want the singular glory.

From a business perspective, this is a huge positive. It means that your workforce can learn from each other and collaborate far more effectively than those working in silos.

Not only can this improve productivity, but it can transform a business from one that is merely surviving to one that is thriving.

4. They Have a Passion for Learning

Perhaps it is because millennials have grown up with the internet and the ability to easily increase their knowledge. Or maybe it is because changing technologies have made learning more accessible, affordable and necessary than ever before.

Whatever the reason, millennial workers are constantly striving to learn something new. Their innovation and curiosity mean that they do not just want to focus on what has already been done. They want to see what could be done and find new ways to achieve it.

Senior managers from this generation understand that they have got to their position based on what they have learned. But they also know that they will only stay in their position if they continue to learn.

That is why there is a proliferation of workers who are turning to postgraduate study in a bid to continue upskilling themselves.

They understand that new technologies are emerging which can be implemented to improve and streamline new processes and will do what they can to innovate and evolve in a bid to remain competitive.

The millennial love of learning is often cited as a reason for their job-hopping. They actively seek to work for companies that will invest in their ongoing learning and help them upskill to learn new things and challenge themselves.

As a result, businesses who want to make the most of millennial workforces should consider implementing individual training budgets to ensure that their staff is always working to the best of their ability.

5. They Are Motivated by Achievement

Detractors may suggest that the growth of ‘participation certificates’ is a reason why millennials want to constantly feel that they are achieving something.

This is a scathing viewpoint and neglects to understand that a key motivation behind many millennial workers is that they want to feel that they are making a difference in the world.

In a business context, millennial workers want to feel that they are working towards something. It may be a promotion, or it may be the success of a project or the launch of a new product.

They want to have something tangible to say that their skills and their learning are getting them somewhere and helping them to achieve their ambitions.

As an employer, it may be beneficial to keep your millennial workforce on track by explaining your business goals or aims/objectives. If your staff know what they are working towards then they will be able to enjoy its success and understand the role that they played within that success.

6. They Challenge Hierarchical Structures

Millennials are not afraid to challenge something that they do not feel is good for business.

They will use their knowledge to discover new, more productive ways of working and they will not think twice about whether they should make their opinion heard.

For older generations this can be frustrating – a junior employee may go directly above their line manager to approach the senior management team with a suggestion because they are used to open-door policies.

It may feel that they are disrespecting the hierarchal management structure. But this is because this is a generation that has been brought up with open and honest dialogue.

As mentioned in traits #2 and #3, the millennial approach is to use technology and to work with others in a collaborative process. They genuinely want their businesses to succeed and will do what it takes to make success a team process.

7. They Are Open to Change

A positive trait for millennials is that they are open to change. They take a dynamic and flexible approach to their work and they are not afraid to change direction if they feel that something is not effective or in line with the company’s stated core values.

By embracing change, they can more easily see opportunities to invest in new technologies that may streamline processes or identify areas for business growth.

This is something that should be valued highly by employers because it means all employees, regardless of their level of seniority, are open to doing what it takes to improve business practices.

8. They Value Relationships in the Workplace

An intrinsic part of the workplace for millennial workers is the relationships that they have with their colleagues and peers.

Many millennials are attracted to the working environment as much as they are the salary and job responsibilities.

They want to build lasting connections with staff members, and they want to feel that people are part of a ‘family’ or group they can trust. They also want to be inspired by other colleagues and will often ask more senior staff members to act as a mentor so that they can enhance their career development.

If you want to position your business as an attractive proposition for millennial employees, you may want to consider implementing a positive social atmosphere where staff can enjoy working together and learning from one another.

9. Millennials Appreciate Constructive Feedback

The desire for feedback may seem needy to some but can be extremely beneficial to businesses because workers are continually striving to improve.

Millennial employees do not want to sit on their laurels, they want to be able to continually progress their skills and make the most of their role. And to do this, they need to have regular feedback from managers about their performance.

Millennial audiences have grown up with two-way dialogue. They have constantly been given praise and criticism from parents, teachers and lecturers throughout their lives. And thanks to new technologies, they are used to receiving this feedback almost instantaneously.

Many businesses have taken this on board and replaced annual performance reviews with monthly evaluations or regular communication about an individual’s performance.

From a business perspective, this is hugely beneficial because it means that an employee can continuously learn how to improve their performance. They know what they need to do and can put into place strategies to help them overcome any issues (such as additional learning as mentioned in trait #4).

Not only does this create a more effective workforce but it creates a positive and motivating working environment that allows staff to flourish.

10. They Want to Work in a Diverse Workforce

Younger employees want to work in a diverse workforce. They want to learn from other cultures and heritages, and they commit to supporting companies that have similar values.

2020 saw landmark changes in issues relating to diversity, whether it was helping women to break the glass ceiling, ensuring that more Black and Latin employees are given equal opportunities, or helping members of the LBGTQ community to feel that they can be themselves in the workplace.

Millennial audiences want to see more genuine engagement from businesses on social issues and they will be actively looking to see if words are followed up with genuine action.

For businesses to engage with millennial workers, they need to take active steps to show a commitment to the issues.

This could be through publishing transparent audit reports outlining steps taken, changing the wording used on job descriptions to remove implicit biases, or placing job adverts in more inclusive and a wider variety of areas.

Final Thoughts

Now that you are aware of some of the key millennial characteristics that drive employees, it is possible to implement effective changes to your business.

This list should hopefully have dispelled some of the common myths about millennials and help you to understand that, far from being ‘lazy’ and ‘entitled’, this is a generation who is prepared to work hard for everyone’s benefit, not just their own.

These traits that employees look for within an organization should be viewed as wholly positive. After all, requiring additional training and asking for regular feedback to improve their performance for the good of your company should be seen as a sign of passion and commitment.

Additionally, you should welcome their ideas about innovation and creativity. Far from being about turning their backs on your corporate history or the ‘way that things have always been done’, it is about developing cost-effective processes that will allow you to boost productivity or sales and finding new ways of work to help ensure your continual success.

Ultimately, the millennial workforce is possibly more attuned to helping you get the most out of your business. They want to work as well as they can, and they want to be surrounded by like-minded people who are the best at what they do.

What’s not to like about that?


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