What Millennials in the Workplace Really Want

millennials in the workplace

This month I celebrate my fourth year at Bright Horizons. While half of that was spent as an intern working part-time during graduate school, I still see myself as dispelling that pesky job-hopping stereotype given to Millennials in the workplace. Sure I could have jumped ship for a job opportunity in NYC once my internship ended or started looking elsewhere after a move to Texas, but I didn't and I have a strong feeling, plus some data, as to why that was.

Mentoring to Engage Millennials in the Workplace

I could write pages and pages about the definitions of leadership and mentorship and how they're different or the same, but for me it's simple. A mentor is an experienced (but not necessarily older) colleague who is there for you, always ready to talk through an issue, answer a question, or just chat. A leader is someone who inspires you to do your best work every day in order to make the team and company successful. For some people, their mentor and leader are the same person, for others, they may be in completely different parts of the organization. Regardless, both roles are important in order to retain employees.

While all employees will benefit from a mentor, 79% of Millennials in the workplace see mentoring as crucial to their career success. I can personally attest to the fact that having a close mentor has made me more confident and successful in my endeavors. Mentors can also offer a form of sponsorship to newer employees, making recommendations for career development and endorsing their capabilities to leadership.

Why Mentoring Programs are Growing in Popularity

A mentor can also provide an intangible amount of training that can't be found in a classroom or webinar. It's been said that nearly 80% of all learning happens informally, through on-the-job experience and help from other employees. As questions or frustrations arise, having a mentor can ensure that employees get answers and issues resolved quickly. A mentor is a great resource in situations where a question is important, but perhaps too simple or time sensitive ("What PowerPoint template to use?" or "Where is the color printer?") for a manager's ear. Additionally, employees with mentors are more likely to both acclimate quickly to the culture and workflow of the organization, and to develop meaningful relationships that will add another layer of connection to the company.

This feeds into research showing what Millennials are really looking for in a job -- and it's more than just the job description. PGi research found that 71% of Millennials are looking for a second family at work and almost 90% would like their workplace to be social. Peer mentors (fellow coworkers who have been at the company longer) can be the first step in making new hires feel at home and welcome.

Mentoring has become so important, formal programs are becoming a standard in many workplaces, with a Chronus Corporation showing that more than 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer them.

So how do you get started? How do you ensure a new employee has a mentor in order to reap the benefits described above? Mentoring seems to work best when the relationship forms naturally; but you can perhaps give it a nudge after a few days on the job by asking the new employee to request one to three potential people they would like to be her mentor. Approach those people and encourage them to get to know the new employee better in hopes that a mentorship will grow. There are also lots of resources out there to additionally help you along.

And don't forget about the leadership aspect of the equation. While a mentor has played a large role in my commitment and development at Bright Horizons, it's been an inspiring leader who's kept me motivated and engaged.    

Written by: Rachel Hill

About the Author

Rachel Hill at Bright Horizons

As a Research Analyst for Horizons Workforce Consulting, Shannon works with Bright Horizons Education & College Advising corporate clients to deliver college financing workshops and provide personalized counseling to employees. She has over 10 years of experience in student financial assistance, at Boston University and Tufts University, and has also served as an active member of MASFAA’s Early Awareness and Outreach Committee, as a trainer for DOE’s National Training for Counselors and Mentors, and as a volunteer for FAFSA Day Massachusetts.