There are truths and fictions when it comes to Millennials entering the workplace. If you believe even half of what you read, you may think your team is on its way to ruin: Millennials lack worth ethic, company loyalty, or ambition in the office. As with every generation that enters the workforce, there are expectations; then there’s the reality Millennial workers experience. Let’s take a minute to dispel rumors and talk about how we can create workplaces that meet expectations halfway with reality.

Millennial Expectation: Constant feedback and mentoring from bosses and managers.

Given the on-demand nature of our day to day, it’s not surprising that millennials look for immediate approval or feedback on the work they do. This can be misconceived as a looking for an ego stroke or praise, but understand it’s a desire to improve their work as quickly as possible.


Workplace Reality: Setup constructive feedback loops.

While you can’t provide constant feedback, set an expectation of how you will provide feedback and how often. Realistically, you can’t provide constructive feedback on every task, but make it a goal to set up a system for feedback that’s on a more regular basis than employee performance reviews.

Millennial Expectation: Ownership and responsibility for projects, right off the bat.

Whether it’s that sense of entitlement we’ve all been made to fear or a cultural popularity of a personal brand and development, millennials are used to owning their work. A recent Gallup poll found that “millennials are more likely than both Gen Xers and baby boomers to say a job that accelerates their professional or career development is “very important” to them.” Owning your work is a way to see a career in the big picture, and it’s a higher priority for millennials.

Workplace Reality: Allow them ownership, with strings attached.

You don’t want an employee to feel like a drop in the bucket, but it’s also unrealistic to give an entry-level employee complete ownership on a project or team. Instead, allow for ownership of small aspects of projects or certain tasks. Granting ownership, however small, can also lead to a larger conversation around employee development. While it can seem like a risky decision, if you have constructive feedback established, the employee will have a chance to take a little responsibility and have feedback regarding his or her performance.

Millennial Expectation: Learning on the job.

Millennials get a bad reputation for being interested in the next big new and shiny thing, but in many respects, this is mirroring a desire to learn, grow, and continually improve. If a Millennial doesn’t see opportunities for growth or education in the company, they might start looking for new opportunities outside of their current role.

Workplace Reality: Make learning a priority on the job.

This is an example of when expectations and reality need to align. Employee development should be prioritized in the workplace, no matter the experience level of the employee. Whether it’s working with a coach on communication skills or goal setting through learning new software, Millennials are right in thinking they should grow on the job.

Millennials may be the new kids on the block when it comes to the growing workforce, but they will make up the majority of offices before we know it. Understanding what Millennials expect in a workplace, and being able to meet some of those needs can be the difference between retaining or losing a team member. Keep their expectations in mind as you shape their day to day workplace reality.

Looking for a better way to develop the Millennial talent at your organization? Check out the Ace-up Business Extension program for affordable, flexible, and personalized 1:1 employee coaching.

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