So what the hell do millennials want at work?

By Philippe Riboton, Managing Partner at HR Partners International Executive Search

It’s widely recognized that Central Europe’s job market is a very competitive one. While it is undoubtedly good news that unemployment across the region is at its lowest the less comfortable flipside of this is that the volatility of personnel in some Central European cities such as Prague or Warsaw is reaching madness. I hear almost daily company managers and CEO’s tell me with despair how they end up renewing about 30% of their staff every year in their Czech retail operations or their Polish shared service centers for example.

Those employees they recruit, train and then lose can be considered as typical millennials. No surprise then that millennials are often pointed at as a job hopping generation, moving from company to company, showing low engagement in the work place, not putting too much energy into their jobs. But do companies really wonder why millennials leave? What is it they want at work other than free food and bean bag chairs? According to Jarmila Brixova, former HR Director at Zatisi Catering in Prague, “millennials believe that life and work should make sense. They want to learn and grow.” Karin Laukova, General Manager at Sephora in the Czech Republic, agrees: “millennials look for leaders they can be inspired by and they can learn from, as they thrive to do work with meaning: they want to see their contribution and they want to see it fast”.

Millennial job-hopping doesn’t only provide considerable extra expense to a firm’s HR activity. It is also highly disruptive to the running of your business and can result in critical projects stalling – or even failing. Here are ten things I learned millennials want at work and which I think are worth keeping in mind in order to not only successfully hire them but, crucially, to retain them (at least a little while):

  • millennials are looking for a work place with meaning and purpose,
  • they value companies who have a social conscience and responsibility,
  • they give preference to companies who offer participative management,
  • they admire companies who have an environmental responsibility,
  • they strive for companies who have authentic corporate ethical values,
  • they tend to prefer companies who have an entrepreneurial spirit,
  • they want to make an impact through their work,
  • they care for flexible work arrangements,
  • they are looking for creative environments,
  • and last but not least millennials are looking for companies where there are positive relationships.

May be it’s time company managers and especially hiring managers do their homework and revisit their pitch line when recruiting millennials.