Currently, Millennials comprise 36% of the workforce. By 2020, Millennials will represent 50% of the workforce in the United States. That’s a mere six years away!

Just who are these Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000?  Much has been researched and written about the work habits and traits of this demographic. As this tongue-in-cheek video relates, many cite the group as being over-confident, entitled social media junkies who just want vacation time, a great title and a seat at the C-suite table their second day on the job. Oh, and don’t forget their need for constant praise and recognition. These are exaggerations, but contain kernels of truth, as 91% of Millennials expect to stay with their companies for less than three years because their jobs aren’t meeting their needs.

The challenge facing companies is how to retain these future leaders. We believe that organizations with flexible work rules and a commitment to sustainability will come out the winners.

What Do Millennials Want?

They expect upward movement quickly. 56% of Millennials won’t work at a company that bans social media. They expect to be connected; in fact, it’s reported that they would rather give up their sense of smell than technology.

We know that Millennials are extremely brand loyal. We also know that Millennials are the most environmentally conscious group in the U.S. Is your company’s sustainability mission infused with your employer brand? If not, it’s time for some alignment. Is your building LEED or ENERY STAR  certified?  If so, you need to be talking about that when explaining why someone should come to work for you. If not, you’re wasting your building assets as a powerful talent attraction tool.

Modifying Your Workspace

69% believe attendance at the office on a regular basis is unnecessary. They don’t need face time. They demand flexibility. Increased access to faster, cheaper and smaller IT technologies makes it possible for people to work from everywhere, so employees are finding the idea of cubicles and offices less and less compelling as more attractive working spaces (coffee shops, home offices) become viable.

Research shows that most people want to work for a company with a strong green reputation. Today’s knowledge worker is more connected and more flexible than any other generation on record. Cookie-cutter cubicles and crowded workstations are not only unappealing, they are now unnecessary when employees armed with a laptop and mobile phone can work almost anywhere.

Embracing sustainability and mobility to support employees’ basic IT and operational needs fosters engagement. It also drives down energy costs and responds to the desire of employees to work for a company aligned with their own values.

Understanding Millennials

These young workers are goal and success driven. They are optimistic, independent and overeducated.  They believe in transparency, free-flowing information and inclusive decision-making. Imagine what it would feel like to work for a company that set goals and then allowed for authentic collaboration in decision-making and rewarded those who made it happen. Employees who are asked for their best with challenging new assignments are more likely to stay.

Creating the right environment can create brand loyalty. Millennials need to feel a connection to the company’s mission beyond profit. They feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world.  They are motivated to work harder when they know their work adds value to the company and the planet.

A positive culture is essential to their “dream job.” Is your office environment set up to be social and collaborative? If not, it’s time to think of a different interior design that allows for movement around your space, access to leaders at all levels and shows obvious commitment to your sustainability mission. Millennials can spot inauthenticity pretty clearly. If you say you’re green and there aren’t, at the least, recycling bins in place, they know you’re bluffing.

Smart organizations don’t try to teach Millennials “how things really work.” Instead, they embrace what this unique generation offers and leverage it to their competitive advantage. A company’s sustainability mission, programs and initiatives are naturally aligned to those of Millennials when the company focuses on the shared values of people, planet and prosperity.

sustainable leadership, Employee motivation employee engagement





Julie Honeywell is Vice President, Talent Management, at Paladino and Company. 

Brad_Pease (2)





Brad Pease, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C is head of Paladino’s Austin office and the leader of Paladino’s Signature Buildings Practice, which guides owners to embed core organizational values around sustainability into their significant single building projects.

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