Attract and Retain Millennials in the Workforce

Later this week, I'll be attending the Work and Family Research Network conference in Washington, D.C. where I'll be presenting on Bright Horizons' approach to well-being, and the findings of our Dream Company study.

The Dream Company research has identified specific attributes that make up a Dream Company, and just as importantly, the organizational payoffs of becoming one. But how do those results differ when we cut the data by generation? And can we gain insights into how to attract and retain Millennials?

The answer is a definitive: Yes!

What Today's Millennial Employees Dream About

It may come as a surprise to some, but the very things that attract Millennials to dream companies are the same elements that appeal to older generations. A third of the more than 4,000 people who participated in the study were Millennials, and their responses matched those from other generations.

All generations shared the belief that a Dream Company has three key elements, specifically they:

  • Care about employee well-being
  • Provide learning and development opportunities
  • Promote work-life balance

What Tomorrow's Employees are Looking For

These findings match data from the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS), a 2015 study of more than 18,000 high school and college students in which respondents were asked what factors were important to them in choosing an employer.


  • Almost three-quarters of students (72%) in the NSHSS study said they valued an organization that treated employees fairly.
  • Employees in the Dream Company study said employers showed that respect through productive meetings, effective communication, and supervisors who gave fair appraisals of work and stood behind employees when needed.
Opportunities to Learn and Grow

  • Millennials from the NSHSS study valued the ability to gain skills to advance their career (90%) far more than international experience, working on a team, or travel.
  • The majority of Dream Company respondents, including Millennials, said their employer's investment in their career development (75%) was critical on its own, but also made them confident they'd be able to achieve long-term career goals with the company (74%). 
Work/Life Balance

  • Young people in the NSHSS study rated flexible work hours/schedule and benefits as more important than base salary. More than half of young people in the NSHSS study said they wanted an employer that provides work/life balance (68%).
  • Millennials currently in Dream Companies said their organizations care about work-life balance and provide them the ability to achieve it through the freedom to attend personal or family events. They specifically called out supportive benefits including flexible work arrangements, child care, and elder care as elements that created conditions for success.

The sum total should provide a blueprint for employers, showing what important Millennials are wishing for, and how Dream Companies deliver. The better news is that the very same elements appeal to Gen X and Boomer employees as well.

That means that by following the template, employers end up with a workplace everybody dreams about.  
Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands

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