You Can't Manage Milennials


Mike Maughan

Mike Maughan specializes in helping organizations understand the value of employee development and engagement strategies. He currently oversees product marketing for Employee Insight products at Qualtrics.

Prior to his role with Qualtrics, Mike earned an MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and an MPA at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where he also taught public speaking and communications across Harvard at the graduate level.

He received his BA from Brigham Young University in American Studies where he graduated magna cum laude.

Mike is the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Evergreen Development Foundation and worked as a law clerk on the 2012 Romney for President campaign. He has also held numerous positions focusing on third-world development and healthcare access across the world where he gained valuable insight into what motivates and engages people.

Webinar Transcript

Woman: Mike Maughan is the head of Global Insights at Qualtrics. His focus is on introducing data to important conversations, thereby elevating the level of discourse from opinion to informed data driven discussion. He specializes in helping organizations develop global demand for their brand by leveraging various tools from partnerships, social media, and corporate visibility to thought leadership and public and analyst relations. Previously, Mike helped establish the employee insight business at Qualtrics including specialties in 360 degree feedback and employee engagement and poll surveys.

He has spoken at many industry events and is consulted with chief human resource officers at several Fortune 500 companies. Mike is widely viewed as an expert on Millennials in the workplace. Mike is the former chairman of the board of directors of Evergreen Development Foundation and worked as a law clerk on the 2012 Romney For President campaign. He also served in a variety of positions focusing on third-world development and healthcare access in the developing world. Please welcome to Elevate 2015, Mike Maughan.

Mike: Hi, everybody. I'm thrilled to be here with you today. I'm excited to talk to you about Millennials in the workplace. As you can see from the title, I would tell you that you can't manage Millennials but we'll talk about recruiting, engaging, and retaining Millennials in today's workplace. I'm always surprised at all of the research that talks about managing Millennials using old constructs applied to a new group of people. But Millennials are inherently different. They look at the world a bit differently and it's important to go through that.

So I know you just heard a little bit about my bio but my name is Mike Maughan. I'm head of Global Insights over at Qualtrics and worked for a long time on our employee insight business and have had the opportunity to speak about Millennials all over the world. And I'm a millennial myself and so it's always fun to be a millennial talking about Millennials and the research that we've had the opportunity to do.

Let me start by just sharing a quick agenda. We'll look at millennial disruption, the old school and the new school ways of doing business, and then we'll end with the Qualtrics millennial survey that we've done that dives a little more into the data. We've heard a lot of talking head. We have a lot of assumptions that we make. It's important for us to dive into the data and show what we know and what we've discovered by doing our research. So let me start by just saying that Millennials are those who are born between 1982 and 2000, which means that Millennials today are between 33 and 15 years old. And Millennials have...ever since they started getting into the world of purchasing, been disrupting a lot of different industries.

We look particularly first set at the music industry. We had Millennials who refused to pay for full CDs or entire albums and some people would say, "No, I mean that was Apple who recognized the need to introduce an iPod who allowed people to buy individual songs." I would say that that was the Apple responding to the Millennials who were changing their purchasing habits in the way they went about it. You saw it in the food industry. There's been this massive move away from fast food toward fast casual. You saw it in politics where Millennials came out in unprecedented numbers to support Barack Obama and his campaign against Hillary Clinton in the primary nearly eight years ago. You saw it again in the race between Obama and Mitt Romney where Millennials again came out in largely unexpected and larger numbers than people had anticipated in order to boost Obama over Romney.

We've seen it in transportation. We've seen it in social interaction. We've seen it in dating. People used to actually ask each other out on dates. Now they just swipe left and swipe right. So we've seen this millennial disruption and everything from your love life to the food you eat, to the leaders we elect, to the music, the way we purchase our music and it's important to recognize in all of this that the world has fundamentally changed. There are those who will say that, "Well, every generation kind of has its thing," and that's true. And every generation has always wanted certain things but the Millennials are the first that always connected generation.

They share everything in their personal life. It's spread all over the internet. And you can see that Millennials are constantly looking for feedback in a way that no generation before has done. Some would say that this is a narcissistic, self-centered generation. Others recognize it as this wonderfully refreshing thing where Millennials constantly just want to know what's working, what isn't. How can I get feedback on what I'm doing whether that's what Instagram post are going to get the most likes or in the workplace? How can I iterate? How can I do better? How can I be better prepared for ownership, for opportunity, for the ability to contribute and make a meaningful difference?

And so that's where we look at how Millennials interact with the world in different ways. Now, I love this side because it shares with us a little bit about what's coming. We know that by 2025, Millennials are anticipated to make up 75% of the workplace. That gives us just 10 years to figure out what's different about this generation and how best to channel their energy, not manage them. There are a few lies or myths that we perpetuate within ourselves when we talk about Millennials as well. For example, you'll note here we've seen research out there that says that 52% of Millennials in developed markets anticipate working for themselves one day. I recently had an article or a piece in Inc. Magazine where we talked about how this is one of the most misunderstood things for Millennials. We all think that they want to be entrepreneurs when really most Millennials just want to be entrepreneurial.

And there's a difference between those two. And so it's not that every millennial actually wants to go out and start his or her own business and wants to run their own company. Millennials want the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and that often means that they want that within the confines of an organization that provides some level of stability but still gives them the opportunity to be creative, to have ownership, to do things their own and in innovative ways. Now, the biggest fallacies out there that we see is kind of in this last stat again that we see a lot out there where it was said that 64% of Millennials said they'd rather make $40,000 at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring.

Again, Millennials, the oldest Millennials out there are 33 which means that a lot of them haven't yet gotten to the stage of supporting their families and having kids and et cetera, et cetera. So maybe this is true for now, maybe it's true for some. I would postulate that we're going to see that change. And that a lot of the data that we have out there shows that Millennials actually aren't as altruistic as we think they are when all things are equal. So we'll jump into that data in just a minute when we get into the survey. In terms of asking Millennials what will generate innovative solutions that are needed to address the challenges confronting society, confronting the world, it's interesting to note that 44% of Millennials still say that business and entrepreneurship is the primary way in which we'll address and innovate for solutions for the world.

So, there's been this idea that Millennials are all about purpose over profits, that they want government and non-profit, that is true and there's a role for all of these. But it's not true to say that Millennials are turning away from traditional business as some have previously sort of postulated. So, one last slide on this. Millennials have said they want to work for organizations, that foster innovative thinking, that develop them as employees, and make a positive contribution to society. This is a well-known kind of trifecta that people will refer to. We'll dive into that and look at what it means specifically. Now, in terms of Qualtrics generally where we work, we work with a lot of these and many other organizations to help with their employee engagement, to help with their leadership development and 360s, employee satisfaction surveys, employee feedback.

I bring that up just to say that we see a very broad group of organizations from small startups to well-established companies, all of whom are working on these same issues to try to understand Millennials so that they can recruit, develop, and retain them. And the broad view and broad look that we get here at Qualtrics helps us to see things not just what we're dealing within our own organization but what organizations across the world are doing. And that helps to inform the perspective that we're talking about today.

So let me dive in quickly to some of these old school versus new school versions of thinking, and again, none of this has to do necessarily with age but some of these will relate to how Millennials better respond but it's also just how the new school way of doing stuff.

So the old school way that we used to think about was that employees wanted a job description with a clearly defined role. What we would say now is that people, especially the Millennials, want to be self-directed without a ton of guidance. I always call that the objective versus prescriptive style of leadership. Give them an objective and get out of their way and let them figure it out. Prescriptive is do this and give them every step to go to get there along the way.

The next one that we'd look at is people used to have overseers, bosses, managers, very hierarchical in structure. The new school way of business is all about having mentors, coaches, leads. That doesn't mean that people aren't in charge and it doesn't mean that Millennials have to be in charge today. What it does mean is being a player coach. It means that leading from the trenches. It means they want someone who's going to be fighting right alongside them and who can be a mentor to them rather than someone who just barks orders from the top.

Old school is that employees wanted a job. Today we talk about how employees want an experience. Back in the day, there was this idea that we all wanted an accumulation of things. Millennials more than any generation wants to accumulate experiences. That's why we all love to share it on social media, it's this accumulation of experiences. When I talk to all of my friends and when I go all over the world and talk to Millennials and talk about Millennials, there are all of these ideas that everyone wants a story to share.

They want something either rewarding or exciting to be part of that they can talk about. And some might refer to that as this self-centered culture. We can embrace it for what it is and find ways to channel that need for cool experiences to help them see that what they're doing, what they're working on is something that's really...something that they'll want to share with others as well. Again, old school way of doing business, annual performance reviews. That has to be dead today and most organizations are beginning to recognize that what Millennials need is continual feedback because they want to iterate on a pretty constant basis. Old school way of doing business, again, top down implementation.

New school is this grassroots adoption. And what we would talk about there is again there's no more hierarchy, no more "Do this because I said to." Well, no generation has ever liked that. Millennials are actually not willing to accept it at all. They'll leave your organizations in droves. When we talk about grassroots adoption, again, it's not the Millennials have to be in charge or have to be involved in every decision. They just want to understand the implications. They want to be part of the process, so that they can leverage that and join with you in the solutions.

There's this idea that back in the day ever wanted to just do well and now Millennials want to do well while doing good. That is true but we'll dive into the data in a minute and see what tradeoffs the Millennials are willing to make in terms of the mission or purpose of organizations with whom they're working.

This last piece on the old school is individually focused versus group focused. Millennials are very focused on having a collaborative work environment and a place where they can work with others on these things. So now that we've kind of gone through those and laid the framework for everything, let's talk for a minute about this Millennials survey that we did. Again, the survey that was born between 1982 and 2000 in the Millennial generation, all of the respondents that we are going to look at have some college experience. So we didn't go out there and survey all the 15-year-olds. So 55% of them are college graduates, another 30% of the respondents in this survey have a graduate degree and almost half has been in the workforce for over four years.

So with that let's start with recruiting. And again, we've talked a lot about how Millennials want to do well while doing good. And I think that that's true, Millennials will tell you that that's something that's very important to them. What's important for us is to distinguish what people say and what people do because observed behavior is often very different than stated behavior. If I had to sum it up in one slide it would be to say that Millennials want it all, right? They want to change the world. We say that they care more about purpose than profits and individual compensation. What's important to recognize though are the tradeoffs that they're actually willing to make. Because if businesses make decisions based solely on what is the stated preference rather than an in further observed preference, they'll be making the wrong decisions.

So we ask for example what the most important thing is to Millennials when looking for a job. And almost half of respondents said the most important thing for them was that they had opportunities for professional growth. Compensation came in as you can see second at 22%, and everything else sort of filled out this long tail. But that helps us understand when we're dealing with Millennials, they want opportunities for growth. They want something that's going to challenge them, something that's going to give them an opportunity to contribute really meaningfully.

So as we're out there recruiting Millennials, it's important for us to remember as organizations that this is something that we really need to focus on is how are we going to develop them so that they're in a position to develop the skills and attributes that will allow them to contribute meaningfully in the years ahead. Now the rest of this recruiting section we'll focus primarily on these three things, compensation, the company, and culture which is what Millennials and the research showed they care most about.

So starting with compensation. We ask them when considering a job offer, what's most important to them, title, compensation, mission, et cetera. Over 60% said that it was compensation. Another 30% said the organization's mission or purpose, and only 10% said that title is what mattered. I think that's part of what we're seeing in terms of this overall lack of hierarchical structure, this lack of organizational structure that doesn't appeal to Millennials in the same way. And flat organizations that have more opportunities for collaboration are more meaningful which is why title is not as important as people say it is.

Now, when we're looking here, you've seen now in two different sets of slides we've seen, that compensation comes out on top. Here organization or mission is the distant second. And that's where we get to the if all things are equal, Millennials do want to do well. But I always share the story of a friend of mine who finished her MBA. She was out there and said, "Now I want to find a job where I'm prepared now to have a huge impact in the world, to change people's lives in a meaningful way, to really help the poor, et cetera. And I just need an MBA salary to help me do it." And so for her, it was this thing where I'm totally dedicated to a purpose, to a mission, but she wasn't willing to sacrifice the pay in order to get there. And so, it's this balance where we have to say, "Okay. We hear what you're saying but we also see what you're doing.

We asked Millennials what are their salary expectations for their first full-time job out of college. So, anchoring everyone back to that. Fifty-two percent expect to make between 35,000 and 65,000 in their first job. When we ask them how important different things were to them in a job but what's interesting to see what they actually valued. As you can see here, getting paid well was the most important thing for them, and it have the smallest standard deviation by far. Meaning that there was a very strong focus on how important that was to people.

The second thing, the resource do their jobs, opportunities for professional growth as you can see stands very, very close there as well. So we're starting to see this continual trend in all of the data that shows this, what we're look at. In terms of company and culture, how are we going to help employees want to work at our organizations and get them to stay when they're there. Now this is fascinating because when we look at the Millennial Generation, there is so much hype about free food, about cool workplaces, about the open environments, about all these little perks. And so we want to know what do they really care about, what actually matters.

They always talk about the Facebook 15, how Google has all these food everywhere and all these restaurants. Business Insider does this interesting article when Marissa Mayer takes over as the CEO of Yahoo and how she introduces free food for them there. But when we asked Millennials what they really care about, the number one thing for them is having a collaborative work environment. It was ranked in the first or a second highest priority for almost three quarters of respondents. That goes back to the fact that work is an experience for them. They want stories to tell. They want people to work with.

Again, in this social media, Millennials in general, are they first always connected generation? They're social beasts overall. And so this collaborative work environment puts them in a position to work together with people. That doesn't mean that everything has to be a group project. That just means that there has to be this level of collaboration and opportunity to do that with one another. Transparency and meritocracy tied for second place. And interestingly what we hear the most about in the media, free food and dress code were ranked lowest by nearly everyone.

And so while that make it the hype? That's not actually what Millennials are focused on or looking for in a job, or in the culture of a company that they're going to go be part of. We also then just ask this because it was fun to see. Almost 60% would prefer a free cell phone plan over free meals. Not hard to do the math. The free cell phone plans can be much, much cheaper. So if organizations are looking for a way to differentiate from the competition or to provide something Millennials value a little bit more. That's an easy to do it and a quick one.

Going back to this idea of doing well and making sure that that's part of the experience, we asked how important it was for Millennials to be involved in an organization, work for an organization that's involved in charitable activities. Forty-four percent said it was very or extremely important, but 56% of Millennials said that it didn't factor into their decision-making regarding a job at all.

When it came to their work schedule, not surprisingly, Millennials like all of us I think have some idea that we'd all love to be able to just manage our own schedules and tell people to not worry about it. We'll just get our work done and then move forward. That is the idea, but it's not what's happening in most instances. Organizations will have to determine for them what works best. This is a hard one to say. This is what you should do simply based on the fact that different organizations, different industries, different geographies even have very different requirements or things that work with them. But important to at least recognize that Millennials value what they do in terms of this and the opportunity to set one's own schedule.

Now when we look at the company itself, I think that this is an incredibly important slide for us to recognize. When we ask what's more important, the company culture or the company strategy and trajectory, it came split right down the middle. Now why is that helpful you might say? Because for those organizations, they may not have the same strategy or trajectory. So if you look right now, Millennials are in droves, jumping over to Uber. They're really focused in tech because tech is such a fast growing industry where there's so much opportunity. And the trajectory of companies in the tech space is huge. That may not be the same trajectory for a lot of organizations that are in more traditional or longer term environment.

And so if they can't compete necessarily on the same trajectory, it's important to recognize that there's an even split with company culture, and there are ways for organizations to still attract the Millennial talent they want by focusing just as much on culture if they're not able to compete in the same way on strategy and trajectory and vice versa. When we looked at what Millennials most want in a boss, or excuse me, what they prefer out of the company or the boss, 54% said that the company's reputation and trajectory were more important to them than the person for whom they'd actually be working.

Now, I caveat that to say that we know that most people quit their boss, not their jobs. So while this may get them in the door, it's incredibly important that we're giving the right learning and leadership development learning opportunities and management instruction to our managers to make sure that we continue to keep Millennials even if that's not what gets them to the company in the first place. Now when it comes to engaging Millennials, let's just talk really briefly about employee engagement. Gallup does this state of the American workplace where they found that only 30% of employees are actually engaged in their work.

Now if I compare that to a 10-person crew team, that means that just three of the employees are rowing with all their hearts. We've got another 5 or 50% of the American workforce who's just sort of in the boat, enjoying the ride, looking at the scenery, not really engaged. Those represent your workers who show up at 8:00, they leave at 5:00. They're not really passionate about what they do. They're not putting in a lot of extra effort or emotion. They're not willing to go the extra mile for a customer. But the most damaging are the two people on the back of the boat. The 20% who are actually trying to sink the boat.

So you've got 3 or 30% of the workforce rowing with all their hearts, 5 or 50% who are just kind of along for the ride, and 2 people who are actively seeking to kind of destroy your organization. You know what those are called. Those are what we call the actively disengaged. It's estimated that they cost the U.S. economy roughly half a trillion dollars per year. They're more likely to steal from employers. They drive customers away. We often say that actively disengaged employees are actually firing your customers. They negatively influence their coworkers. They take a disproportion on the amount of management time.

So what we need to do is figure out how to either get them out of the boat, or move them up where they're not actively disengaged anymore. It's not all negative though. When it comes to employee engagement, the reason we focus so much on it is because all of the data shows that employee engagement is the proven driver of quality, revenue, customer service, retention, productivity. That all make sense. The more engaged my employees are, the better the quality of the services and products they're going to provide. We get it but sometimes we don't necessarily apply those lessons as effectively as ought to.

So looking at the data from our survey, we say that in terms of engagement, what's the most important and exciting part about coming to work. And far and away, 37% said that having challenging but rewarding projects is what really gets me out of bed in the morning, 18% came in and said how much money I make, 17% talked about coworkers they enjoy, 15% opportunities to make a difference. But again, by a substantial margin, challenging, rewarding projects which fits with our earlier data that showed that they want opportunities for professional growth, that's what keeps people engaged. What that means is Millennials, I mean we call them impatient, we say they're not willing to wait their turn, that they act or they feel entitled, and I'm not going to dispute that that maybe true of many.

But again it's not that they have to be in charge per se, it's that they're not content to sit on the sidelines. They want to be part of the solution and they want to be part of it now. So going back to this idea of old school versus new school, again, it's not a cog in a machine, it's someone who's self-directed with not a ton of guidance but who can just go out there and tackle problems. In other words, we always say provide them the right playing field and then just let them play. Get out of their way, help them remove obstacles from their path, and give them the opportunity to show what they can actually do.

Now when we look at the biggest challenge to motivation, we find that it's not being compensated fairly. Now interestingly, unchallenging projects and compensation flipped when we looked at challenges to motivation. What's interesting here is that there's a certain level that we would call fairness where people need to be paid at that level where pay isn't a distraction. It's not the thing that's holding them back anymore. And if that is in the way then the other thing seemed to not get the attention that they need because Millennials are just worried about this because they feel that you're treating them unfairly, that you're not looking at them in the context that they feel they've earned.

And so, importance just kind of take money off the table. That's not to say that we have to pay them an obscene amount of money, it's that they need to view that pay as fair and commence it with the work that they're doing and what the industry is providing as a whole. On a daily basis, what we asked them is what are they looking? What's most important for you to receive? Again, we go back to challenging opportunities and meaning from their work.

Interestingly, looking at social media we found that 5% of Millennials admit to spending over two hours a day on non-work related social media. Most are looking at it a little bit but not a ton. But important to recognize that they're going to be on it, so let's find ways to channel their energy and maybe use more work-related social media to help them communicate and grow our brand.

And so, when we look at how to retain employees, it comes mostly down to two things and that's work-life integration and to one's boss. So, starting with this, and this is I think the most interesting statistic that we have. We asked Millennials, how long did they anticipate or whether they like to stay in a full-time job and nearly 45% said that they would stay for over eight years. Now Millennials have this reputation for jumping ship all of the time. I'm going to do a quick tour of duty here and then there and somewhere else. What we're finding is that if all things are equal, if given the opportunity and they feel like they're fairly compensated, they're getting the opportunities for growth and development they want, et cetera, they would actually stay for a long time.

So that's up to us to figure out the best way to get them to do that rather than for us to tell them that they have to stay. Now, looking at work-life integration, we used to always talk about work-life balance. I think that with the advent of the smartphone, work-life balance is dead. So let's work and look at the integration and what that looks like. Millennials are very connected not just to their friends but their counting coworkers among their closest friends because they spend so much time with them. They follow each other's families on social media. They pin to each other's boards, et cetera. And people are likely to involve their boss in their lives or at least they allow their boss into their lives if their boss sends them a social media request.

Not surprisingly, family was ranked first or second by nearly three quarters of Millennials when asking what's most important to them. So family and then professional success coming in at second. So again, showing that interrelation between the two. Personal life of the office, 60% said they're comfortable talking with their boss about their personal life but when we dug into that a little bit further, they're very comfortable on personal goals and you can see it moves pretty sharply down this ledge. Personal goals is fine, health is fine, personal challenge is okay, family situation maybe, dating life not really, politics and religion let's stay away from. But interesting to see what they're willing to talk about.

When we said what do they most want in a boss, they're looking mostly for again a willingness to be a mentor. They don't want this overseer, this boss, this manager of days gone by. They want a mentor who's trustworthy and expert and kind. I've showed here a picture of the splits obviously. This is to show that what they most want to avoid in a boss is basically everything. None of these really stuck out. Micromanager came in on top but Millennials just don't want any of these things which is not shocking because nobody really wants an incompetent, unreasonable, narcissistic micromanager who's mean.

Looking at perception of one's boss, most Millennials are saying that they're continually learning from their boss. There are 14% of them who claimed that they know more than their boss which may well be true but interesting in terms of their attitudes for sure. In terms of oversight and feedback, Millennials most want to get feedback, 60% said they'd like feedback at least weekly or more frequently than that. And again, that's why there's annual performance review is dead. Millennials want to be able to get feedback and get it regularly.

So let me just conclude by saying again how do you manage Indiana Jones, he being the symbol of the Millennial. I know he's not. And the answer to that is you can't. So what do you do? I would say what you do is to manage Indiana Jones. You channel his energy and talents. You give him big problems to solve and remove obstacles from his path. You pay him fairly. You make his work and experience worth sharing, not just a job that has to get done. We mentor and not micromanage. And then this most important piece, you let him run fast and give him the room to fail.

In other words, going back to this, provide the playing field and let them play because the biggest challenge coming in any of our organizations isn't what's going on in our market, it's not our customers, it's what's happening inside our own building. And so to find the right people we've got to provide this playing field and let them play.

Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here with all of you, and I appreciate always the opportunity to chat about Millennials. So, feel free to reach out. Mike Maughan, I work at Qualtrics. You can look me up on LinkedIn. Thanks.