What Do People Want…at Work?


LeslieGrossmanLeadership2By Leslie Grossman, Chair, Vistage International

Ten to 20 years ago, the million dollar question was “what do women want?” There was even a film back in 2000 called “What Women Want” starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. Even in 2016 you will still find plenty of articles claiming to have the answer to the woman want question. However, the question today most are asking is “what do millennials want?”

Corporations, agencies and professional service firms seem to be searching for the millennial answer as they hire recent college grads and find most quit within 12 – 18 months. The truth is that companies are beginning to get a clearer picture of what the M-generation wants and they don’t like it one bit.

Most companies are stubbornly refusing to change the policies of the past. They insist that millennials will have to get used to the old ways. They should stop wanting things their way and buckle down and act like employees of two decades ago.

The babble is that millennials want flexibility; they want to be stimulated by their work; they want to be promoted fast; they want to know their career path as an employee; they want to change the world and have their employer support their causes; and they want to understand the purpose their employer serves. They even want their employer to trust them to work at home when they want and take vacations at will. They must be crazy.

The crazier thing is that 2016 is not 2000. The world has changed as much as the new generation of workers. Even the tried and true workers of today who started a decade or two ago want many of the same things that millennials want. Change is hard. Change can be painful. Creating a corporate culture that fulfills people’s lives while delivering an A+ at work in the new world requires employer flexibility, trust, a willingness to adapt to changing times and a new view of the world. The queries “what do women want?” or “what do millennials want?” may no longer be relevant in today’s world.

The present workplace question that companies need to ask is “what do people want?” The answer lies in asking employees of all ages what they want and looking for innovative ways to meet their needs and make them happy. Happy people do good work. They are loyal and high-performing. It is no longer the big paycheck and long hours that get the best from the best. It’s time for companies to act a little ‘crazy’ and deliver to employees what they want.

About the Author:  Leslie Grossman, author of “LINK OUT: How to Turn Your Network into a Chain of Lasting Connections” (Wiley), is a Vistage International Chair in New York City.  She was CEO of Communications/Marketing Action and Women’s Leadership Exchange and is a leadership and business development strategist, speaker and coach at Leslie Grossman Leadership.   Leslie can be reached at leslie@lesliegrossmanleadership.com. 

1 Comment

  1. Ford Kanzler on at 10:05 AM

    Superb advice. There have been and are many examples of high-achieving companies who understood this and have discovered the answer to your question. There’s no big secret here. Its just that too many companies are strictly focused on shareholder return and enriching top execs when, if management was tuned into their employees (of any generation), customers would be taken care pf, resulting in the desired financial results. “The flogging will continue until morale improves” approach isn’t working. Navies have long acknowledged the value of “a happy ship.” What can we learn from that?

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