Board Shorts in the Board Room - What Millennials Want

by Felicity Dudley on Thursday 19 October 2017

There are so many stereotypes and clichés written about millennial workers, from demanding flexible working hours to expecting a multitude of benefits and perks. This may be the case, but millennials are a source of untapped potential, which is why companies across the world are looking to them to bring about a ‘fresh change’ in the way work gets done. But what can companies do to attract and retain Generation Y employees? And who is doing it well?


It's time to embrace flexible working. This is arguably the most commonly acknowledged millennial trait, a healthy work-life balance, is something that according to a recent study, millennials more than any other generation wish for. Flexibility in terms of where and how they work is something that employees are willing to take a pay cut, pass up a promotion, or even relocate in order to gain a greater work-life balance. Taking mental health days, going on sabbaticals and being offered the opportunity to work remotely are benefits that are increasingly becoming the norm.

Earlier generations were probably too afraid to ask for flexibility. The mindset was that work comes first
— Rose Ernst, National Director of G10 Associates Programme.

Vodafone UK is so keen to show its commitment to flexible working that not even the chief executive has a personal office. In addition to appealing to millennials, hot-desking and allowing people to work when and where they want has reduced office space at Vodafone by 3% since 2009, increased productivity by 20%, and led to energy and travel savings.

Each member of staff at Forward3D is armed with a laptop, meaning that they can choose to work at their desk, in our large social area or a private booth, depending on which environment best fits the work at hand.


Mindfulness in the workplace

Mindfulness is a fairly new area of research in psychology, and it has started being applied to the workplace. Being mindful is significantly related to wellbeing, something that 64% of millennials say they practice in dedicated daily activities, such as yoga, meditation, journaling, or using apps. This can help with retaining information, keeping focused on the task at hand, and making the familiar new again. 

American company HBO may produce shows that turn viewers into couch potatoes, but it doesn’t promote the same attitude in its employees. Instead, it offers a wealth of resources to help them stay healthy both mentally and physically, with gyms, free yoga classes, and meditation classes offered in the workplace.

Along with free yoga classes and Hard Yard workouts, Forward3D also have fortnightly coaching sessions with Sanctus, who work with businesses to help them create an open environment where mental health is accepted within their workplace.


Making an Impact

Whether it is environmentalism, humanitarianism or any other form of altruism, millennials want to feel like they are doing the right thing. They don’t have to necessarily be involved in altruistic practices themselves, but they do have a need to work and thrive in a company that supports all the right causes. According to a recent study, 64% of employees won’t take a job if a potential employer doesn’t have strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices.


One company that are getting it right is Facebook. Six years ago they began to focus on energy efficiency as an area where it could make a big difference. Due to their sustainability accomplishments, the social media giant placed second on Greenpeace’s 2015 ClickingClean Report and was featured in Forbes.

Transform3D (Forward3D’s philanthropic arm) aims to unite the talent and innovation of our employees with the knowledge and passion of the non-profit world to support third sector organisations.

Open Dialogue

Yearly evaluations, hierarchical communication, and blind obedience without a chance to be heard are all things of the past in the modern workplace. TriNet and Wakefield Research published the results of a survey that examined how workers between the ages of 18 and 34 view annual performance reviews. They found that 69% of that demographic think the process is flawed. Instead, today's employees want frequent feedback, open communication, and collaboration with their peers.

With a high value set on feedback, IBM created a program that allows people within the company to give feedback to other employees, no matter their organisational rank. Having the ability to give open, honest feedback (that cannot be anonymous) to anyone else in the company has opened up conversations across all levels of the organisation.



The business world is slowly but surely shifting its focus to modern millennials in search of talent, dedication, perseverance and creativity only a young, thriving mind is able to offer. It’s not easy being a millennial in the modern work environment, nor is it easy being a company that tries to please its employees. Fortunately, with these valuable insights, you can acquire a better understanding of the modern workforce and introduce new solutions that will nurture a thriving collective determined to lead your business to success.