With millennials, employee satisfaction is as much — or more — important than money. As these 25-35 year olds are now the largest demographic in the job market, employers can’t just rely on good salaries to bring in top talent. Employers take note: that millennials were willing to take (on average) a pay cut of $7,600 USD in exchange for a better “quality of work life.”
If you’re looking to compete, it’ll pay to invest in being a great employer.
Employee engagement vs employee satisfaction
First of all, you might be wondering if employee satisfaction is simply the same thing as employee employee engagement. Not quite.
Employee satisfaction is a measure of how happy an employee is with his or her current job and conditions. But an employee can be perfectly happy in a role without being willing — or inspired — to expend any effort.
Employee engagement, on the other hand, measures how committed an employee is to an organization. How much do they believe in the organization’s mission? How far above and beyond are they willing to go to do a great job? Of course, an employee that’s wholly engaged in a company’s mission and her own work can still be dissatisfied with the workplace.
Lacking one element or the other can be a. That’s why you need to focus on creating the conditions that both satisfy and engage your employees.
Measuring employee satisfaction among millennials
Creating a satisfying workplace for your employees starts by listening to them. There are two tried-and-true methods for measuring employee satisfaction: anonymously, and face-to-face.
Many companies use anonymous surveys to gauge how happy employees are, either sending them out occasionally or using them monthly or quarterly to establish a baseline of employee satisfaction. This method has the advantage of allowing employees to answer honestly without fear of repercussions.
Try asking simple questions with a 1-10 scale rating, like:
- I am happy in my current role
- I am currently in my ideal workplace
- I feel supported at work
- I feel as though my skills are valued
To get more a more detailed idea of employee satisfaction, use one-on-one conversations. Make a habit of checking in, either through regularly scheduled meetings or during performance reviews. It’s a great way to learn what people need on an individual level. The downside, of course, is that people may be intimidated about sharing their true feelings with leadership.
Some questions to consider:
- How happy are you with your current position?
- If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
- What would you like to do more of? Less of?
- How is it working with your team?
- What would make your team more successful?
- Do you see yourself here in five years? Why or why not?
Boosting employee satisfaction among millennials
The things that satisfy millennials in the workplace aren’t that different than any other demographic. Nearly every worker wants to be respected, work with people they like, and do good work that gets recognized.
The major differences come in millennials’ desire for mobility and perceived lack of loyalty. Technology has made it easier than ever to find opportunities across the globe, and even work remotely. This causes many millennials to view the traditional 9-to-5 cubicle job as a grind. In fact, according to, 63 percent of millennials would choose a company that allows telecommuting over another option.
At the same time, growing up during the recent recession and mass layoffs makes millennials naturally less trusting of the “work one job until you retire” idea. Still, it’s worth noting that even back in 2014, 48 percent of millennialssaid they’d been at their current job for over five years. And that more millennial leaders intended to stay at the same company for more than 15 years (44 percent) than non-millennial leaders (29 percent).
If you want to create a workplace that attracts millennials, keep the following principles in mind.
- Embrace flexibility: You don’t have to toss out your desks and install bean bag chairs, but having and hours will help you keep millennials happier. Reward responsible workers by showing that you trust them with options to work from home or work non-standard hours to avoid the commute.
- Develop leadership and talents: Millennials are just starting out in their careers, and are considering the path ahead. As such, they’re looking for employers to help them develop next-level skills and create opportunities.
- Create a great experience from the beginning: Boost employee satisfaction scores from day one with a seamless onboarding experience. When you early, they’ll be faster to feel confident in their jobs — and in their employers.
- Communicate your values: Millennials are especially looking for ways to make a difference in what they do. Communicate your company’s values early and often, both through internal messaging, and by walking the talk with opportunities for volunteering, gift-matching programs, and community partnerships.
While it’s impossible to paint all millennial workers with broad brush strokes, by and large they are eager for opportunities to do good work, develop their skills, and be recognized for their efforts. Which, if you think about it, could apply to any of us.
The moral of the story? Create a great workplace for millennials and you’ll see employee satisfaction rise all around!