Meet the Expectations of the Millennial Workforce

In our Breakthrough Coach Foundations School Leadership Course, the conversation often turns to what members of the current and up-and-coming workforce expect from their careers. Regardless of the field, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that millennials have a view of their jobs that’s very different from that of previous generations.

According to a report from the Governance Studies at Brookings cited in an article entitled “Workforce 2020: What You Need to Know Now” published on, millennials will comprise 75 percent of the working population around the world by 2025. That means it’s important for all types of leaders, including school leaders, to better understand what attracts most millennials to certain workplaces and why they choose to stay or go.

While no generation can be accurately characterized across the board as a group—and there’s a wide age range in a single generation—there are always commonalities among them. Here are just a few things to keep in mind regarding the preferences and expectations that many millennials share, and why they see the world of work as they do.

No group in the workforce is more connected: Having been born between the early 1980s and late 1990s by most definitions of the “millennial” generation, millennials were either online at a young age or practically born with a connected device in their hands. Their networks are vast, and it takes just minutes for them to turn to those networks if they’ve become dissatisfied with work and want to explore other opportunities. Millennials may be less concerned than older employees about having fast access to new options.

Career development is more important than money: This is clearly described in an article in Forbes entitled “Why Millennials Would Take a $7,600 Pay Cut For a New Job.” The “quality of work life” is so important to 25- to 35-year-old workers that they would take a large pay cut in order to do more purposeful work, have a better work-life balance, work in a better company culture, or have improved career development.

More than any generation before them, millennials see a good work-life balance as a measure of success. Rather than seeking the corner office and important job title, millennials value having control over when and how they work and having varied life experiences more than amassing possessions and prestige.

If you’re a school leader, the Breakthrough Coach Foundations School Leadership Course can put you on a path to have that balance and culture in your school, and create new, purposeful work for your staff by giving them the right challenges and opportunities.

Millennials are team players: Millennials came up through their school years in a time of greater diversity, open-mindedness, and collaboration. This experience can translate into a greater desire to contribute to and share in the overall success of an organization. Younger millennials need the same supervision and direction that any young or new employee needs, but they may have a greater willingness than most to accept that direction if they understand clearly defined organizational goals and recognize that good coaching is a means to helping the organization succeed while also meeting their need for improved career development.

Millennials can be valuable mentors: Painted with a wide brush, millennials may be taking an unfair hit for their constant attention to the screens in their hands. In reality, these “digital natives” are often the perfect candidates for helping others improve their technology-related skills, as well as being adept at managing and organizing data. As a school leader, you can look for opportunities to pair these tech-savvy employees with more senior colleagues for two-way mentoring that can increase job satisfaction for both groups. In addition, as Gen Z enters the workforce, millennials will understand their younger colleagues’ needs and expectations better than anyone before them.

Each generation has its strengths and challenges. Taking the time to learn more about the diverse needs and viewpoints of your staff can help you be a leader who better understands how to attract and retain your most valuable employees. The Breakthrough Coach can give you new tools to providing the coaching, culture and opportunities that the millennial generation seeks in the workplace.