Millennials want a friendly workplace and work-life balance

What Millennials Want in the Workplace

If you employ Millennials, you may be scratching your head trying to figure out what they want out of life and their careers. Their needs are different from previous generations, who were grateful to have a job when times were tough and happy working in a traditional workspace even when jobs were plentiful.

But that’s not the expectation of Millennials – those born between 1986 and 1991. Their values and expectations are quite different from those of the generations before them. They are among the country’s most innovative and tech-savvy workers and know what they want.

Prizing Work-Life Balance

They prize work-life balance and are willing to switch jobs if they don’t find their work fulfilling. For many, income is not as important as a sense of purpose and enjoying what they do. They generally favor collaboration over competition and want the office spaces where they spend their time to be bright, comfortable, and open.

Even if you’re offering a generous salary, you may have a hard time attracting talented younger workers if your office still has fluorescent tube lights and high-walled cubicles.

Could the design of your office be putting your business at a competitive disadvantage?

What Millennials Want

More than anything, today’s young adults have a desire for work-life balance. Giving employees flexible work hours and allowing them the option to work from home will make your company more attractive to younger prospective employees.

Here are what Millennials value in a workplace.

  1. Dress code: Over the years, the need for men to wear a suit and tie and for women to wear a dress and heels has diminished and many employees expect to have a more relaxed dress code.
  2. Pets at work: The option to bring pets to work can also improve office morale. Pets can help reduce the stress not only of their owners but other employees as well. Having a pet-friendly office environment will result in happier, more productive employees.
  3. Shorter commutes: Younger workers place a high value on living in close proximity to where they work. A shorter commute to work saves time, which can then be applied to doing other things. It also saves money that would otherwise be spent on gas or car fare. Many people like to have the option to bike or walk to work in mild weather. If you’re planning to expand, consider opening offices in parts of town that will lessen their commute.
  4. Workplace design: When Millennials think about their ideal workplace, they picture an office with a lot of natural lighting. Working in natural light makes them happier, they are more productive, and sleep better at night. Having collaborative spaces where employees can spend time together brain storming or working on an important project is also a big draw, as well as quiet spaces for taking breaks to recharge.
  5. Digital communication: Digital communication comes as second nature to Millennials. Provide the necessary tools so that employees who are working remotely can easily communicate with their peers.
  6. Office perks: Find little things you can add to your employees’ normal day at the office to make their time there more fun. Keep healthy food available on site to fuel employees and keep them feeling their best during work hours. Play games during breaks, have holiday gift exchanges, and offer yoga or themed costume days.
  7. Professional development: Millennials need to feel they are advancing professionally. It’s just common sense to provide training to enhance their skills and to signal that they have a clearly defined career path in the company. Training is a recognized tool for employee retention and benefits the company as well as the employee.

Millennials aren’t afraid to change jobs if they feel they’ll have a better future elsewhere. Research shows that Baby Boomers in their 20s changed jobs just as often. Maybe the difference is that Millennials are putting off starting families to jump-start their careers.

But they want some stability in their lives, too, as they build their careers. They won’t hop to the next job so quickly if you provide the right work environment, value their need for work-life balance, and provide opportunities within your company for continual improvement and stretch assignments that keep them engaged.

After all, isn’t that what we all want?


Laura Gayle is a full-time blogger who is passionate about e-commerce and the ways technology can help women find work-life balance. She created  to be a trusted resource for women trying to start or grow businesses on their own terms.

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  1. That’s a good list of what I found Millennials wanted when I was in HR. I was always struck by the notion that we Boomers want many of those things as well, but never thought there was an option but the status quo. Change is good. Although, I’m anti casual-dress code. It drops to the category of people not caring what they look like to clients, etc.

    • RoseMary — I think another characteristic of Millennials is that they “expect.” They’re not afraid to ask for what they want — I was always hesitant to speak up. I agree that the dress code at work and at social events is at a new low. It distresses me to see people wearing jeans to the opera. But maybe I’m old-fashioned.

  2. Millennials in many ways bring a freshness and newness to organisations. I find they are optimistic and eager to learn in comparison to the lets say, more mature. I agree that milennials want to progress and will not hesitate to move on if they can see no room for growth in their current role. They are an asset to an organisation and clearly aware of the skills they carry.

    • Phoenicia — Agree that Millennials do bring a new perspective to their companies. I do disagree, though, that more mature workers aren’t eager to learn new ways of doing things. I think the majority do and only a minority aren’t open to new ideas.