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Study: Pleasing Millennials not about game rooms and free pizza

By Jonathan Sweet

If you read many articles about management -- especially managing Millennials -- you've probably stumbled upon the common tip that you need to ply them with free pizza, Red Bull and table tennis to keep them happy at work.

That seems to be a misconception, though, according to a new study from Gallup reported in the Washington Post:

What that rising generation seeks is actually pretty simple: Millennials — those Americans born between 1980 and 1996 — just want to know where they stand and where they're going.

"They want a workplace that helps them progress, but they also want to see their own value," said Jim Harter, chief scientist for workplace management and well-being for Gallup’s workplace management practice

Whereas, in general, my generation (Generation X) and the Baby Boomers that preceded us were more motivated by a paycheck

The key takeaway here is that as more and more employers expect the job to come first and "work/life balance" becomes nothing more than a nice-sounding recruiting tool for many companies, Millennial employees want to have a job that matters.

According to the study, they want to do something that is important, that has a purpose. They want to know there is an opportunity for advancement. They expect constant feedback and the supervisor has to fill more the role of coach than boss now.

Although those qualities are important to members of every generation, millennials are particularly concerned with some of them. For example, 59 percent of millennials rate opportunities to learn and grow as "extremely important" when applying for a new job. Just 44 percent of Gen Xers and 41 percent of baby boomers say the same. Exactly half of millennials rate advancement opportunities as extremely important in a job search, compared to 42 percent of Gen Xers and 40 percent of boomers.

So what are you offering your employees? Do your best associates have somewhere to advance or has your company become stagnant? Is there room for growth or are you going to continue to lose your best to other companies?

Whether you like it or not, these are your largest group of employees for the foreseeable future, so these are the types of questions you've got to be thinking about.

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