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How to lose a millennial in 10 steps

Us millennials are not the same as our parents at work. We already make up a significant part of the workforce and we demand different things from work than the previous generations. We are creative, efficient, and tech-native, but we are also easy to be displeased by our employer I listed the key pitfalls on where you can go wrong in dealing with a millennial at work.

millennial [noun]: a person who’s born somewhere between early 80’s and late 90’s and never settles”

Millennials are often described as the young generation just now joining the workforce. Newsflash: we are already here, even in managerial positions – the generation reaches up to the ones born in the early 1980s. We have grown up in a world that is constantly changing and that is what we expect from our work too.

It’s easy to keep us but also to lose us, so here is my recipe on how to lose a millennial in just 10 easy steps:

1. Neglect the importance of the meaning of work

76 % of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company. We don’t only want to hear about responsibility, we want to be a part of that. Work takes up most of our days and we want to make a difference. We need to feel that our work is actually valuable and the time we spend on it was a time well spent. We want purpose. We are surrounded by bad news all day every day and want to change the world for the better. Enter meaningfulness of work.

2. Don’t offer us career advancement opportunities

The key reason we leave is that we don’t see the next steps in our careers. And if you don’t offer us possibilities to develop and progress in our career, someone else will – that’s not a threat, that’s a fact. Internal promotions play a key role in showing people that internal talent is recognised. We want to know we have a future in the organisation and that the company supports our personal development.

3. Make us waste our time in repetitive work

We know about automation. So why would we want to waste our time on repetitive, ineffective tasks that can easily be automated? We want to share ideas with others and use our creativity. And we want to learn from our colleagues. So allow us to use our time in something productive and create change.

4. Don’t listen to us

Give us a platform to voice our opinions: we want to be heard and we want to voice our opinions. We have grown up in the middle of the abundance of data and information, and we’ve learned to effectively process it and come up with out-of-the-box concepts. We want to know that our ideas and opinions are valued and taken seriously.

5. Bad leadership

The 1950s called, they want their micromanagement back. We have been taught to be independent and we shy away from a manager who doesn’t trust us. But we do need support and the possibility to be heard. Involve us in plans, be open about them and communicate. We value transparency and a two-way dialogue with management. We want to know that you as a leader are there for us if we need it, but also give us the freedom to thrive. We know what we are doing.

6. Make work our only priority

The fact that we highly value our free time does not mean that we don’t highly value our work. Offer us the balance between work and free time. If we want to be offline outside of working hours, respect that. Be flexible with us and we’ll do the same for you. Don’t treat us like an investment, treat us like an asset.

7. Offer us poor technology

We were the first generation to grow up with computers and cell phones. We know how technology can support us – and when the technology doesn’t answer our needs. You’re not a modern digital company if you have Teams in use, you need modern tools and a seamless flow of data. Old legacy systems that might have been rolled out before our birth are not enough. We need modern cloud technologies that change at the pace that the world does. Tools that meet the IT department’s requirements, as well as millennials’ demands. We know that companies like Google and Amazon aren’t frontrunners for nothing.

8. Force us to stay in place

If covid taught us something, it’s that work isn’t tied to a place or time. You can trust us to do our work whether we want to do it at the office, from our summerhouse, or from a beach in Bali. We praise freedom to choose where we work. Allow that for us.

9. Disregard equality and inclusiveness

Needless to say, equality and inclusiveness are core values for us. The company culture should reflect these and embrace diversity. We want to be valued regardless of who we are.

10. Last but not least: treat us as a mass rather than individuals

I want you to understand that all I stated above is not the single truth. Everyone wants to be recognised as individuals, not least millennials. There’s no unambiguous guide on how millennials should be led. Instead, you should listen to us as individuals and recognise our individual needs.

With that being said, all of the above are good guidelines to start with. Give us meaningful work, credit when due, autonomy, and development opportunities and you have a good start. And coming back to the definition in the beginning: it was an ironic statement on the most basic excuse on how you can’t make millennials stay in your company. If you blame the entire generation’s behavior, you need to look in the mirror.

The key is not why you should invest in us when we might leave your company. The key is where you should invest in order for us to want to stay. We are not ready to settle, but we are loyal to the ones that show us our value.


Paula Kauppinen is a millennial expert by experience, who’s spent most of her professional career happily at Sofigate. She’s enthusiastic about people and digital marketing. Her key to succeeding in her career in tech marketing is spending time to learn something new every day.