Are millennials really that different? Like most generations, they’re looking for stability, opportunities for career development and a chance to make a positive difference.

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Recently, I overheard part of a conversation about the differences with millennials in the workplace. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I was waiting in line for coffee and couldn’t help listening in because the conversation was so intriguing.

Don’t worry, the conversation wasn’t negative. It was more about how the world and workplaces of today are different for the millennials than they were for baby boomers. The global economics and the increased technological innovation were what the two men thought were the reasons why millennials were so different from the baby boomer generation at work.

That conversation got me thinking — are millennials really all that different from other generations, such as baby boomers and Gen Xers (like me)? So I turned to the latest 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey to better understand what millennials are seeking in the workplace.

The findings of the report are based on the views of almost 8,000 millennials questioned across 30 countries who have a college degree and are employed full-time. Here are four key trends of what millennials want:

Businesses committed to social improvement. Almost nine in 10 (86 percent) millennials surveyed believe the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance. Most millennials (76 percent) believe business should be a force for positive social impact, and that large businesses are not fulfilling their potential to alleviate society’s challenges.

Tip for employers: To engage millennials, address the societal challenges closest to their hearts, such as income inequality/distribution of wealth, corruption within business and politics, climate change and the environment. Providing opportunities for millennials to support not-for-profit charities and to engage in causes they care about will result in a greater level of loyalty and employee retention.

A sense of empowerment and a feeling that their job has meaning. Millennials want to be active participants, not bystanders. They want to feel they can make a positive difference in the world, with 77 percent of millennials participating in a charity or other good causes.

Tip for employers: Involve millennials in corporate social responsibility activities and provide them with opportunities to drive positive changes within and outside the organization. According to the Deloitte report, “Employees who feel their jobs have meaning, or that they are able to make a difference, exhibit greater levels of loyalty.”

Business leaders who are direct and passionate, not radical. Sixty-six percent of millennials are more comfortable with plain, straight-talking language from business leaders. They prefer leaders who aim for gradual change versus those who take controversial or divisive positions or aim for radical transformation.

Tip for employers: Express opinions with passion, but be conscious about appealing to those who might feel left out or isolated, because millennials are focused on inclusiveness.

Job stability, flexibility and automation. In 19 of the 30 countries covered by the survey, millennials ranked war, terrorism and political tension as a bigger concern than unemployment. In a time of political and economic instability, millennials are apprehensive and seeking stability and opportunities in an uncertain world. They’re also seeking lots of work flexibility, with technology rapidly facilitating mobile working.

Tip for employers: Providing flexible work arrangements will appeal to mobile-minded millennials, especially when it comes to allowing them to choose their start/finish work time and permitting flexible work locations. Millennials also prefer providing input into what they do as part of their jobs, so check in often and encourage activities that will keep them challenged, engaged and able to use their technological skills.

Bottom line: Are millennials all that different from previous generations or what Generation Z will want? I don’t think so. They, like most of us, are looking for stability, opportunities for career development and the chance to make a positive difference in the world. All are worthy goals, and I hope they succeed — because if they do, they will help us make the world a better place.

Lisa Quast is a certified executive coach, and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at