Millennials are challenging the traditional notion of work. As they become the largest fraction of the U.S. workforce, more and more businesses are struggling with the demands and work ethics of Gen Y employees. If you are struggling to understand their needs and find ways to engage with them, here are eight reasons why you might be failing and think of the whole generation as lazy and non-work driven, while the reality is quite the opposite.

1. They no longer value the traditional workplace rules

Strict dress code? Fines for being late for 10 minutes? Meetings for the sake of meetings? Millennials no longer deem such things important and often fail to compile with out-dated rules. They will not work for a company where certain things are done because “it’s always been done that way.” This generation has often been called the generation of tinkerers and shortcut-takers. They don’t want to get things done “just because.” They want to get tasks done in the most efficient, least time-consuming way possible and squeeze out the max results.

Next time you think a 20-something employee is just being lazy, have a closer look at his productivity time. He might just have written a simple code to do copy-pasting for him and now enjoys longer lunches while the job is still being done by itself.

2. They believe in life, not work-life balance

Work is not everything millennials want in life. They would like to have time for their friends, family, hobbies, and other small pleasures and pastimes. They work to live, not live to work. That’s why the concept of lifestyle business gained so much popularity in the last decade among these folks. Millennials want to combine their passion with profit and work long hours on projects they feel passionate about, rather than helping someone else reach their profit benchmark.

In fact, think about this the next time you are nagging a millennial about why they don’t get a real job and how they should stop wasting their time shooting makeup videos or hunting for stuff around flea markets to sell it on Ebay or Etsy: These young and extremely successful entrepreneurs built their business around their lifestyle:

  • Michelle Phan started as a makeup blogger and YouTuber and now owns a company with an expected revenue of $120 million in 2015.
  • Tim Ferriss is a living legend, a highly successful author best known for “The 4 Hour Workweek,” and a serial entrepreneur, having launched a series of profitable businesses revolving around his hobbies.
  • James Khezrie launched his first menswear store Jimmy Jazz in Brooklyn that has now become a popular nationwide chain and an online store. He was fueled by his love for fashion and good music.
  • Marie Forleo is an extremely successful business coach running an award-winning show, “Marie TV,” and premium training program, B-School where she teaches how anyone can create the life and business they love, while earning a few thousand dollars per year.

3. They don’t want to be just another cog in the wheel

Yes, millennials have been bashed as “the entitled generation” too many times. Yet the reason for this is that millennials are not seeking a life-long career to pay the bills. They want a job with a purpose and to do something meaningful in life. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, six out of 10 respondents said a sense of purpose was the main reason why they chose to work for a certain company.

On the other hand, most companies don’t provide their young employees with the desired setting as 28 percent of respondents from the same survey admitted they feel that their current employer is making full use of their skills.

If you want to keep your millennial workforce content and productive, your company should focus on empowering workers and explaining to them why they should care, stressing how each team member contributes to the overall success, and praise more individual efforts rather than team accomplishments or managers only.

4. They value intangible work benefits more

A millennial job seeker is armed with technology and the Internet. They can get to know all the tiny details about your company, including reviews from former and current employers, before committing to the job. They no longer want just a desk, fixed-working hours, pension plan, and annual bonuses like other generations did.

They are more attracted by intangible benefits like a friendly work culture, a lack of micromanagement and bureaucracy, sabbaticals, and more, along with some more palpable perks like a cool office space, permission to bring pets to work, or wellness benefits. There are numerous low-cost perks a company can offer employees to keep them content, loyal, and motivated, other than lucrative salary.

5. They are used to being flexible and doing things on the go

Millennials are used to answering emails, making calls, and solving problems on the go. That’s why they don’t feel the need to be anchored to their desk during traditional work hours. Why should anyone spend eight hours in front of the desk when they are already done with their daily plan and can answer a few late emails from the nearby coffee shop? They just don’t get why people get paid for simply showing up unless the job requires their physical presence.

This generation does not want to repeat the mistakes of their parents who spent over 60 hours per week at work; instead they want it all — a successful career and the life outside the cubicle. Being tech savvy, they have the ability to set up their office anywhere and work at their own flexible hours, while accomplishing even more compared to their peers stuck in the office.

6. They are autonomous

Most of them learned to type and use Google earlier than they started writing properly. Millennials know how and where to find information they need and often take advantage of free online learning tools out there to gain lacking skills. Besides, they grew up hearing stories about 20-something tech entrepreneurs launching their multi-billion companies from a dorm. These stories help ambitious millennial workers feel like they have the ability to be successful too.

Young executives today don’t want to be micromanaged and preached to; they want to be actively involved in the decision-making process and don’t get why their voice doesn’t count. If your company seeks innovation and the urge to progress and develop further, let them speak and act. Allowing even the most junior person on the team to share an idea about the product can bring huge positive impact.

7. They want transparency

Millennial workers don’t merely nod and do as they are told by the manager, unless they see and understand the logics behind the decision. They don’t want to waste their time on things reasoned with “I’m the boss, I know better”. They want to know the “why” behind most important decisions made. .” They want to know why important are decisions made. They may not always agree with them, but they’ll appreciate the candidness.

8. They want to learn from experience

Most millennials are rather ambitious and won’t be satisfied with working as a middle manager for the rest of their days. They crave new knowledge and first-hand experience. They are focused on personal growth, and unlike older generations they don’t think their education is done the day they have graduated from college. In fact, they are often life-long learners. They opt for courses and training based on real-life experience, rather than pursuing another degree, certification, or diploma to hang in their office.

Allow your Gen Y workforce to spend time on mastering new skills, watching courses, or listening to podcasts. In fact, encourage them and set up a tuition-reimbursement fund, occasionally invite speakers to your office, and send your employees to training sessions and workshops.

Featured photo credit: Sara Cimino via flickr.com

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