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What are millennial marketing managers looking for in their next role?

By 2020 millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, will form more than half of the global workforce. This digitally savvy group brings with it a new set of expectations that employers will have to meet if they are to attract and retain the best talent.

Smart employers are taking the opportunity to review the relationship they have with employees, consider their expectations, and create a workplace that engages and excites them. And in doing so they can create a working environment that can continually evolve to meet the expectations of future generations.

So what are millennials looking for in their employers?
PwC’s report, Millennials at Work – Reshaping the Workplace, is a good starting point for anyone wanting to understand millennials. But it is only a starting point and there is some conflicting information out there. 

Combining our experience of working with young applicants for marketing and events jobs with the research of others such as PwC, here are seven things employers need to get right to attract and keep the best of this generation.

1 - Lower the barriers

Millennials have grown up in a less formal world where traditional hierarchies have been eroded and information is freely available from all over the world. So it’s hardly surprising when they struggle in rigid structures where information is kept in siloes.

This applies equally to the physical environment. The Dilbert-style cubicles of old have no role in the new workplace. Millennials want the freedom to intermingle and share ideas. Indeed, do they even have to be in the office at all? This generation embraces the notions of hot desking and working in the ‘third space’ – coffee shops, hotel lounges and business hubs.

Clever employers have spotted opportunities to save real estate costs in a world where it is no longer necessary to have one desk per person. And I would suggest some of these savings are invested in creating more open community spaces. 

2 - A sense of community

The PwC report tells us 41% of millennials say they prefer to communicate electronically. Which means the majority still prefer face-to-face communications, although, of course, it doesn’t have to be just one or the other. This group want to feel interconnected and communicate socially with like-minded people.

Create areas where informal working groups can congregate and share ideas. Encourage and facilitate social events (though beware of imposing them). And look at establishing electronic communities too, whether via some of the established apps or your own in-house systems. And speaking of internal IT systems…

3 - Fast, reliable technology with intuitive interfaces

The user manual is a thing of the past. Training courses are the exception. Millennials, who have grown up as digital citizens, expect technology to be easy to use. They want internal systems to work as intuitively as the apps and social media platforms they use outside of work. And they expect these internal systems to be as reliable, fast and well designed as any you provide to our customers and clients.

Consider how much development time or investment goes into internal technology compared with external facing technology.    

4 - Frequent feedback

This generation is used to getting instant feedback through online likes, votes and shares. They are not being needy when they expect a rapid response to their questions or your opinion of their work – it’s the pace at which many thrive. This makes traditional structures, such as the annual performance review, seem outdated and redundant.

Think about how you can provide regular and timely feedback and how colleagues can share feedback on each other. Could your feedback system work like TripAdvisor?

5 - Rapid progression

According to the PwC report, the opportunity to progress quickly through an organisation is even more important than salary, so it pays to have clear career pathways in place. Although a ‘one size fits all’ approach is best avoided, it’s helpful to have a clear idea of the experiences an individual needs to have to progress to the next level.

Millennials recognise the power of lifelong learning and development and will take personal responsibility for enhancing their skills, but they expect employers to play their part.  If your organisation can’t enable, fund or add to their efforts, they will look for those opportunities elsewhere. 

6 - Agile working

Work/life balance is moving to a new level. Firms are becoming much more adaptable in how employees work with them, from more flexible hours or working patterns to part-time working and working from home. This reflects new lifestyles where work has to take its place alongside personal projects and social life. For many, the lines between work and life have become significantly blurred.

Yet more than a quarter of millennials have said their work/life balance was worse than they expected when they joined their employer.

We recommend making reasonable commitments to agile working that can be easily achieved for the benefit of both employer and employee. Communicate what’s available in interviews to manage expectations.

The benefits can be great. One telecommunications firm, for example, recently refitted its UK HQ and was able to minimise disruption because so many employees were used to working from home or staggering their working hours throughout the day.

7 - Travel

Nearly three quarters (71%) of millennials expect to work overseas at some point in their careers, according to the PwC survey, while in another report (Next Generation Diversity) 63% of women said working overseas was important for advancing their careers.

Travel is an opportunity many embrace, though unsurprisingly some countries are far more appealing than others. And it’s important not to jump to conclusions. With many couples postponing having a family until later in life – or choosing not to have children – it is safe to assume that both men and women millennials are very willing and able to work overseas and will grab the opportunity if offered.

You have some breathing space – but not for long.
Millennials will be loyal to your organisation for as long as they feel they are being treated fairly and are getting what they need from the relationship. It’s worth mentioning, however, that 72% of millennials say they compromised in accepting their current position because of the economic environment. Once the economy gets significantly better, employers that are unable to offer the relationship millennials crave could see an exodus of their best young talent.

So employers have a bit of breathing space to audit the relationship they currently offer this generation and consider whether it’s attractive enough. But there is no time to waste. 

It’s time to act!