What Do Newly-hired Millennials Want at Work? Freedom from Uncertainty


For Millennials just out of college, their first professional job does not come with a syllabus. And this presents a dilemma.

It’s not that they don’t want freedom and flexibility at work. After all, by senior year of college, many students have figured out how to avoid both early morning and Friday classes. They enjoy the freedom of a flexible schedule, and they can study anywhere from the quad to the library to their couch.

But the transition from school to work is challenging, and can contribute to what is known as the “Quarter-Life Crisis”. Successful employers strike a balance between providing an appropriate amount of detail on day-to-day expectations, and the empowerment and flexibility these new hires have come to expect at school.

There are several ways employers can help these new employees avoid this tough transition, and much of it has to do with setting up expectations in the first three months. One in five new hires will leave their first job within 45-days, and that gets expensive.

The Top Three Things

The top things Millennials are looking for in their workplace are trust, flexibility and work-life integration.

They want their managers to trust them to provide flexibility in where and when they work, and to be professionally valued.  As long as expectations are crystal clear (aka “the syllabus”) they want the freedom to manage their own schedules-- whether it is at their desk or from home. By providing this flexibility, along with crystal-clear job expectations, managers are instilling a solid dose of confidence in them, and we know this is super important for Millennials.

When it comes to work-life integration, be aware that their “life” takes priorities. I like to say that older generations put work at the center of their life, but Millennials put life at the center of their life. That said, Millennials will give you 110% if you engage them in purposeful work, make it interesting, and leverage their strengths.

The 90-day Plan

In the first three months, we recommend the following for young Millennial employees:

· Offer a structured onboarding program that provides not just paperwork and a tour of the lunchroom, but also professional development in key areas from written communication to public speaking, team development and how to juggle deadlines.

· Provide attainable goals, guidelines on how to meet them and plenty of support, feedback and communication along the way. This can help build their confidence and help them understand the company’s internal systems and procedures.

· Offer a series of one-on-one lunches and coffees with critical players across the company and team members can help new employees understand the “bigger picture” of the company and how they fit into helping the company achieve its mission.

These three simple things will help bring certainty to their job while building mutual trust and understanding in order to create a non job-hopping new employee. That’s the freedom they want.


Warren Wright