Instant Gratification: How Millennials Are Changing the Workplace

Millennials could be called the Instant Gratification generation, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They’ve led the charge for social media, revolutionizing the way in which people connect and communicate. Why send a message through courier, fax, or even email when you could send it through instant message? Why tune into your favorite show at 8 PM on Wednesday night when you could watch it anywhere, at any time, on any device, through your favorite streaming service? Why search for something in an encyclopedia, when you could Google the answer instantly?

That desire for instant gratification has made lasting changes on how companies operate. Considering that Millennials—born between 1981 and 1996—are now the largest generation in the American workforce, their impact will only continue to grow as they take on management positions over the next decade.

These changes aren’t a bad thing, but it’s important for organizations to understand exactly how their youngest employees are changing workplace culture. Let’s take a look.

More Real-Time Feedback

Nearly seven in 10 Millennial employees believe the annual performance review process is flawed. That’s likely because 74% of those employees feel “in the dark” about how well they’re performing.

Remember, this is the generation that grew up on instant responses. They don’t want to wait six or twelve months to hear from their managers and peers—they want immediate feedback so that they can make necessary changes and improvements. Partially due to Millennials’ influence, many organizations are shifting away from traditional performance reviews in favor of a more agile model. Researcher Josh Bersin estimates that 70% of multinational companies are moving towards a model that focuses on real-time feedback and regular performance conversations rather than annual reviews.

More Face-to-Face Time with Managers

Speaking of regular performance conversations, a number of Millennials are calling for more one-on-one meetings between managers and employees. Currently, only 21% of employees say their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. This percentage would likely be significantly higher if employees received more face-to-face time with their managers.

A survey found that 85% of Millennials believe they would feel more confident if they could have more frequent conversations with management. And Gallup research found that when employees strongly agree that they can approach their manager with any type of question, they are much more likely to be engaged in their work.

Greater Workplace Flexibility

A 2018 study found that 70% of professionals work remotely at least once per week. It’s easier than ever for employees to telecommute and this is a perk that many office professionals, of all ages, have come to expect. In fact, 37% of employees surveyed said they would switch to a job that allows them to work off-site sometimes.

Emphasis on Culture Fit

Millennials want to work for companies that match their personality and values. This not only affects recruiting, it impacts retention as well: In a survey of over 200 HR managers and recruiters, over half of respondents said that culture fit is the main indicator that Millennials will stay at a company.

Job descriptions, employee handbooks, and company social media accounts are all areas in which an organization can make a strong statement about its cultural values, set expectations for employees, and identify a guiding mission/purpose.

Willingness to Change Jobs

There is some truth to Millennials’ job-hopping reputation. While only 21% of Millennials have left their job within the last year, that percentage is still three times higher than the number of non-Millennials who have done the same. Six in 10 Millennial workers say they’re open to new job opportunities, and the same number believe it is “somewhat likely” or “very likely” that they would find another job as good as their current one.

The main difference from older generations is that Millennials are more willing to change jobs after a shorter tenure, especially if it means better compensation, opportunities for advancement, work-life balance, or a better reflection of their values. It’s possible that we’ll see fewer and fewer employees staying at companies for twenty-plus years.

Want to learn more about managing a multi-generational workforce? We’ve got you covered.