What Employees Want in a Workplace

5 min. read

Employees are vocal about what they want from an employer, and are willing to walk away if they don't get it.

A recent study has revealed that employees today, especially those in the younger demographics (Millennials, etc.) are pretty steadfast in terms of what they’re looking for from an employer.

Over 300,000 millennial employees in the U.S. were surveyed and the results are interesting, to say the least. millennials, more than any other generation, are seeking equity, transparency, flexibility, and purpose. And they’re not shy to move on if an employer doesn’t live up to their needs and wants.

Here is a breakdown of the major things employees want from a workplace.

Equitable pay

Fair pay for the work that you do is common sense. Everyone wants to be rewarded, remunerated, and exchanged with fairly for the productivity that they provide on behalf of a company or a workplace.

Millennials especially are experiencing a gap in pay and meaning, however. The percentage of millennials surveyed who feel they are paid fairly and that their work has a purpose beyond “just a job” are 7 to 10 points lower than boomers and Gen Xers.

This generation is in a unique position that involves many stressors and dynamics that other generations don’t have to deal with, though. Millennials are a generation struggling with the financial stress of starting families while still trying to pay off student loans.

Within companies recognized as Amazing Workplaces, 85 percent of millennials say they feel they are paid fairly for the work they do, versus at companies who don’t meet the requirements, where only 67 percent said they have fair and equitable income. That’s a pretty telling statistic, illuminating the level of employee satisfaction at an amazing workplace — and the connection between the two.

If pay and purpose don’t align, if there isn’t a sense of meaning for the job that is being done, and if the money isn’t commensurate with that work and meaning, then millennials aren’t afraid to walk out the door and quit. In fact, according to the survey, millennials are nearly 4 times more likely to leave their job than boomers, and 11 times more than Gen X.

Call that fickle, call it what you will. But the fact is that if you aren’t taking good care of your employees, especially the younger demographics, your employee turnover rate will be high, and costly.

Inclusive policies

Millennials with children or eldercare responsibilities are far more likely to stay at their job for longer. This makes sense since having obligations is more likely to engender a sense of responsibility and create a need for ongoing stability.

Paternity leave and other benefits are given by companies that tend to acknowledge the caregiving role and reward employees for having outside responsibilities in their private lives. However, at the greatest risk of turnover, with only 79 percent saying they plan to stay at their job for a long time, compared to 85 percent for millennials with caregiving duties, are those without said obligations.

Some companies are now offering benefits that include employees who don't have child caregiving responsibilities. “Pawternity" leave is becoming more and more popular among amazing workplaces.

These employers are cleverly acknowledging the growing role pets play in employees' lives by giving them time off specifically to care for their “furry kids”.

Gender equality

The terms “gender equity” and “male counterpart” were mentioned by millennials more than by other generations and more than in any previous year’s survey. This is a key signal that gender roles and gender equality has risen to the forefront of many employees’ mindsets in a post-MeToo workplace.

There are some standout examples, however. Real estate marketplace Zillow is actively working to elevate women and bring transparent pay across their organizations. Zillow runs twice-annual checks on pay, and for the past 12 months has maintained pay parity between genders doing the same work.

Equitable standards for work not based on the person’s gender or anything else about them is the yardstick here. It’s the output, not who the person is. In other words, are you a highly contributive and productive employee? Great. Then you’ll be paid accordingly.

Several other factors are valued by employees, chief among them being Post-Pandemic Flexibility and Communication. Millennials value a welcoming atmosphere, where they can ask questions and be heard and have a sense of shared ownership and contribution with and to the business.

It's also fair to say that following a year of being locked down and working from home, many people aren’t ready to return to a 9-to-5 schedule. The new “hybrid workplace” offering the flexibility of combining in-office work and at-home schedules is high on the consciousness of millennials.

So the bottom line is this: If you want to avoid costly employee turnover and keep your workplace humming with positivity and productivity, then pay attention to what employees are saying they want and need from an employer.