What exactly do millennials want?

It's a question that vexes human resource managers across the country.

Millennials panel
"Sense of belonging." Panelists Maribel La Luz, Stephanie Fluker, Adwoa Dadzie, and Ojala Naeem on the When Women Lead stage.

A generation-specific panel, moderated by Maribel La Luz, director of communications for Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, addressed that question and more at CBIA's annual When Women Lead conference June 1.

"A lot of millennials just want to feel like they belong," said Stephanie Fluker, a supplier quality engineer at Pratt & Whitney.

Adwoa Dadzie, Comcast's Western New England Region vice president of Human Resources drew laughter from the 250-plus audience with her definition.

"I like to think of it as anybody who knows a hashtag is not called a pound sign is generally somebody who's a millennial," she said.

Generational Differences

Dadzie said she works with a multi-generational team at Comcast that includes baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials, and doesn't often see many differences among them.

She said that while baby boomers and Gen X workers have expectations for technology that facilitate their work and productivity, millennials expect and want those things.

"What millennials are looking for in their workspace, what they're looking for in terms of quality of life in a work environment, is different than previous generations," said Ojala Naeem, managing director at reSET.

How do they get to feel a sense of community? How do they feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves?
— Comcast's Adwoa Dadzie
Dadzie also advised her generation to "manage their brand" by being cautious about what they post on social media.

"If we stumble across something when we Google your name that we find interesting, yeah, we might click the link," she said.

Great Expectations

Naeem said that while previous generations view work as a place you go to, do the job, and leave, millennials expect something more.

"Millennials have this crazy mix of a work-life balance, or imbalance. What they're doing at work affects so many aspects of their life," she said.

"They're much more bought into it and their job means so much more."

Panelists agreed millennials want to feel their work matters, as does their employer's mission.

Diversity is also important to the millennial generation, the panelists said.

"Millennials aren't just asking about the numbers of people sitting in the room, they're asking about how those folks have a sense of belonging when they're there," Dadzie said.

"How do they get to feel a sense of community? How do they feel like they're a part of something bigger than themselves?

"So those are the real questions millennials are asking."