| What Millennials value at their Workplace
By Victoria Riquelme Beaufort
A growing trend among millennials is that, instead of being bound by conventionality and expectations of generations before, they generally tend to seek purpose-driven career opportunities. The obvious path to pursue is to work at a social enterprise, or join the ranks of doctors, lawyers, teachers, politicians, etc. What if, though, your company lacks a straightforward socially-conscious mission, yet you still want to attract inspired, values-guided employees?
Even as a social start-up working to provide educational opportunities to refugees, we at Kiron Open Higher Education don’t have all the answers. But after surveying and speaking with various colleagues with a range of experiences and backgrounds, a few important considerations stood out as highly sought-after aspects of joining any company or organization.
Work Environment outweighs Compensation
By far the most common comment from Kiron employees (or Kironistas) is a desire to work with and be surrounded by like-minded colleagues. While many Kironistas mention that a belief in the importance of education and helping those who need it most is prominent, having a strong community also resonates across the board. Kironistas are not alone — according to a study by Fidelity Investments, millennials, when asked which aspect is more important when considering a job offer – compensation or increased quality of work life – 58 percent chose the second. For Kiron employees, a cohesive, collaborative working environment, in which there is a clear alignment of goals, with lots of social interaction — with co-workers, and with our target group, students, and external partners — seems to be the ideal.
Clear Opportunities for Growth are Key
Millennials are driven to make a tangible contribution to a company or organization’s performance, whatever its mission may be. Kiron, as a start-up, undoubtedly provided its earliest employees with many trials and tribulations typical of new and growing organizations. For those willing and able to withstand the uncertainties of a startup, Kiron proved to be a challenging and valuable experience. The work was exhilarating and the learning curves steep.
The highs and lows of such a job eventually level out to provide more stability, but that doesn’t mean that the challenges should as well. Employee development is key to growth. Young professionals want interesting work that provokes them and encourages solving critical and complex problems. In a more traditional corporate setting, millennials want to see that there is ample opportunity to “move up”, or take on additional responsibilities and gain new skills.
When decision-making is convoluted, and processes and communication are not clear, no one is happy. Kiron has done its best to avoid these problems by implementing many principles of Holacracy, an organizational operating system that attempts make companies more responsive and less hierarchical. Kironistas find more satisfaction in knowing how Kiron is focusing its resources, how their work aligns with that of other teams, and how they can impact the course of the organization. Transparency is highly valued by millennials and is one way of fostering trust and loyalty with prospective and present employees.
No one ever said working at a non-profit or social enterprise was easy. Kironistas repeatedly emphasize the involved nature of this work — the livelihoods and futures of refugee students are at stake, and it is a huge responsibility. This emotional investment can make work-life balance difficult to achieve, which is why Kironistas seem to generally value the flexibility of their work arrangements, regarding location, start/end times, and more.
Burnout is a real risk for young, purpose-driven professionals as well as for more seasoned ones. To prevent employee burnout, we have found that flexibility is another way to attract and retain employees who are committed to your organization and to balancing personal responsibilities. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial Survey, flexible working is salient to most young professionals’ professional lives and can be tied to performance, loyalty, and personal advantages. In addition to flexible location and working hours, the ability to choose types of contract and work responsibilities are also appealing to millennials.
Kiron Open Higher Education is social start-up working to enable access to higher education and successful learning for refugees through digital solutions. To find out more about how Kiron is making its way from a volunteer-based start-up to an international organization, please contact Sophie Marquitan at [email protected]