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Tuesday, December 29, 2015


5 stars out of 5

So-called Millennials (a.k.a. Gen Yers) - those born between 1980 and 2000  - generally have been characterized as demanding as employees; if what they're doing isn't interesting, they aren't interested in doing it. A work-life balance isn't a right that's earned through years of employment - it should be theirs from the get-go. And since much work can be done anywhere, anytime, who cares about nine to five? 

But there's much more to their behavior than that; and this book lays it out in detail, based on research on Millennials from 22 countries including the United States. Knowing the subtleties of their behavior gives organization leaders an in-depth understanding of what's really going on - and thus become better at improving their places of work by knowing how to more effectively engage Millennials with their work, as players on company teams and as individuals more committed to the organization overall. 

Basically, what Millennials want isn't all that different from the older folks in the working world: An interesting, well-paying job among workers they like and trust, the opportunity to advance and have their work acknowledged. But consider these points:

63% of Millennials agree the demands of work interfere with their home and personal lives, in part because today's technology means they're reachable pretty much 24/7. And, only one in 20 believes that the number of hours employees spend at work is an indication of how productive they are.

Millennials believe in commitment to work, but that doesn't mean they won't leave if they believe the grass is greener elsewhere - meaning a better chance for promotions, advancement and appreciation, among other things. 

Of course, factoids like these don't tell the whole story - not by a long shot (hence the need for this book to be read by any employer who wants to get the best from this generation of workers). Each explanation of what Millennials want is followed by "The Point," a brief discussion of what organizations can do to get more bang for the buck. An example: Millennials want to know how they're doing. Managers should take heed, then, and provide Millennials with some sort of frequent feedback - even if it's just an acknowledgement that they've done the work. Chapters also include "Points to Remember" such as, "Millennials want to control their lives and work as much as possible," "Millennials don't want to be told precisely how to do everything" and "Millennials' technology knowledge can help keep the organization current."

Chapter 6, titled "How to Give Millennials What They Want...Without Going Bankrupt or Angering Older Workers," gets right down to the nitty gritty; it is, IMHO, worth the price of the book in and of itself. Laid out here are the specifics of how to attract, retain and engage Millennials through the three dimensions of people, work and opportunities (the latter includes feedback and communication, development and pay) complete with action plans for each. Follow this with numerous pages of references and suggested reading, and the result is gestalt (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts). I thank the publisher, via NetGalley), for providing me with an advance copy for review. Good stuff!

What Millennials Want from Work by Jennifer J. Deal and Alec Levenson (McGraw-Hill Education, January 2016); 272 pp.

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