Things Millennials Like to Hear in the Workplace

By now, everyone works with a millennial in some capacity. Check out these things you should say to them in order to foster strong relationships.

Thank You
Like their baby boomer parents, millennials gravitate toward words of affirmation as their language of appreciation. They are enhanced by this kind of recognition particularly if it is timely and immediate.

Thought leader, Keven Sheridan in his book “Best Seller” claims that saying “thank you” is the number one driver of employee engagement; something to keep in mind when dealing with millennials.

This trend is consistent with the research done on public sector engagement by motivation experts Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick. They found that the need for recognition is more intense for younger workers as they enter the workplace and tends to subside for older employees.

Where Do You Want to Go In Your Career and How Can I Help You Get There
This statement hits the sweet spot for millennials in a couple of ways. Number 1, it intensifies their desire for quick, continuous improvement since they enter our public work spaces aiming for the top. Secondly, it reinforces their need for an older adult presence in their lives since they come into our workplaces mentored, taught, coached, supervised, counseled and tutored by a bevy of adult role models from helicopter parents to after school consultants.

Here is What I Think We Need to Accomplish
This kind of language sets expectations for millennials. We must remember that many millennials were raised in structured environments from the moment they came out of their mother’s womb to the day they graduated college.

I have heard many millennials recount their formative years of non-stop learning activities that extended into the summer months. Many of them carried their local library card with them right next to their community center pass. Some of them had visited their first museum before they saw the interior of their first mall.

I Want to Utilize Your Strengths
This is music to the ears of millennials. They have been conditioned to deliberately practice their crafts such as travel soccer, spelling bee competitions or piano lessons. They know what they are good at and play to the ceiling of their strengths. They have been fine tuned in the practice of deliberately repeating things they excel at. They want to transfer this personal development mindset into the workplace.

I Want You to Know I Have Your Back
As one of the most social generations, it is important for millennials to have tight connections both digital and personal. millennials have risen to the top with the realization that an adult parent, coach, religious leader or teacher was always right behind them to pick them up if they ever failed. millennials need everlasting arms in the workplace.

I Want Your Opinion
Most millennials were parented in a style that said I am your guardian as well as your friend and partner. They enjoy being around people older than them and relish moments when more senior people asked them for their input.

What Are Your Interests Outside of Work
The research is clear that millennials are out to change the world. Many of them use this value to decide where to work as they determine if the employer’s core principles match their aspirations. It is important to make connections with millennial interests outside the workplace since they bring these notions with them to work. They do not see a distinction between making a difference in the world and having an impact in the workplace.

Some may say, “Don’t all generations want these same things.” Yes but they want them delivered in methods that custom fit their generational values. Millennials are no different. Not in a “me generation” way but in a “we generation way.” The faster we understand that and help them get on of their way, the quicker they will be able to change the world for the betterment of not just themselves but us all.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply


I think this is good however I think it’s outdated. You seem to only address one part of the Millennial Generation: those coming into the workforce. what about those that are already in management/supervisory positions? More and more Millennials are taking higher level positions and the conservation needs to change a little bit here. How are we enabling those Millennials?

richard regan

I think the post applies to Millennials wherever they happen to be in the workplace. Millennial managers are managed by other managers as well. I don’t know what work sector who belong to but in the federal arena, Millennials are underrepresented when compared to the private sector. Their numbers have been dwindling in the federal space since FY 2010. I would make the argument that feds not saying the right things to Millennials is leading them to leave the federal government. Matter of fact, Millennials are the only underrepresented generation in the federal government when compared to the private sector. Boomers and Gen X’ers and Traditionalist are overrepresented as fed govies when compared to the private sector.


I think its a lot more than saying the right things. Actions speak louder than words. As a Millennial, I have heard most of the things you mentioned here, but if they aren’t followed by actions, it really means nothing. This implies that we will be ok as long as they say nice things to us in the workplace.