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workplace culture

They're here and they will continue to arrive en masse in the workplace. Some are newly graduated from university or college, while others have a few years of work experience under their belts. These are the millennials – a group born between 1980 and 1995.

According to PricewaterhouseCooper's NextGen study, a two-year global generational study of PwC employees and partners, two out of three PwC staff are in their 20s and early 30s and by 2016, nearly 80 per cent of the labour force across the PwC network of member firms will be millennials.

Millennials are a talented and dynamic group, and the best of them are hard to keep. Employers looking to shop for top talent need to acknowledge their particular needs and expectations if they're looking to hire and retain millennials. It's time to move away from and not be restrained by "how things used to be done." Companies need to reflect on their work culture, rethink management style , and implement approaches to recruitment and retention that would naturally appeal to the millennial generation.

Millennials 101

Flexibility or bust – Organizations should think about adopting policies that promote better work-life balance – such as providing people with greater flexibility in their work location or schedule without having to execute a more formal work arrangement. Millennials want the opportunity to shift hours – to start their work days later, for example, or put in time at night, if necessary. This need is also echoed among non-millennials – in fact, a great number of employees from all generations feel so strongly about wanting a flexible work schedule that they would be willing to give up pay and delay promotions in order to get it.

Frequent rewards – Nearly half of millennials (41 per cent) prefer to be rewarded or recognized for their work at least monthly, if not more frequently, whereas only 30 per cent of non-millennials would like that level of frequency. Employers should increase transparency around compensation, rewards and career decisions. They should create a meaningful rewards structure that regularly acknowledges both large and small contributions made by employees.

Community support – Millennials place a high priority on workplace culture and want an environment that emphasizes teamwork, the ability to provide input on assignments, and want and need the support of their supervisors. Emphasis should be on appreciation and support from supervisors and providing employees with honest, real-time feedback that is face to face.

Technology is tops – Accelerating the integration of technology into the workplace is essential if workers are to use technology in ways that give them more flexibility and increase efficiency. To millennials, this is an absolute must – they expect to have access to the best tools for collaboration and execution.

Globetrotting ambitions – The study found that more millennials (37 per cent) see the opportunity to work abroad as part of their career path than their non-millennial counterparts (28 per cent). Consider introducing a global mobility program, with short or long-term assignments offered outside of Canada. Providing these opportunities not only offers personal development, but helps to create a group of future leaders with a global mentality.

Personal takes precedence – More than ever, this generation values their personal lives. While organizations are doing more with less, it's easy to lose sight of this and flexibility becomes even more important as people try to juggle their work and personal demands. How much you invest in your employees and listen to them will make a difference in their overall loyalty to the company. So, devote time, resources and energy to listen and stay connected with your people.

At the core of each concept is the need to dedicate time and energy to listening to employees, getting their feedback and showing that what they think makes a difference. Consider executing your own company-wide survey looking into employees' emotional connection with the organization. Doing so will allow you and your team to tailor talent strategies to address their needs – whether it's environment, learning and development, or technology related – and best position your organization and its people for future success.

To learn more about PwC's NextGen: A global generational study and what organizations can learn from it, please click here.

Debbie Amery is vice-president of human capital at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In 2013, PwC, the University of Southern California and the London Business School announced the results of a unique and unprecedented two-year global generational study. A wide range of data was gathered from PwC employees and partners of PwC firms around the globe involving people from different generations, career stages and cultural backgrounds. More than 40,000 responses were collected.