Winning Over Millennials in the Workplace
Jennifer Williamson
Jennifer Williamson
Senior Vice President,
Corporate Communications
Sodexo North America

In our continually growing and evolving global environment, Millennials have a unique perspective as a result of being raised during an era of incredible social and technological change. According to a May 2015 TIME report, the 53.5 million millennials (aged 18-34) now constitute the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. In fact, Pew Research, estimates Millennials represent one in three American workers. While there are many opinions, positive and negative, on the Millennial generation’s dependence on technology, we cannot ignore the fact that these digitally-oriented, social networking savvy future leaders are rapidly changing what work looks like and how it gets done.

Equipped with mastery over the digital landscape as well as a comfort with it, Millennials are able to use their social networking presence and prowess to shift expectations and influence genuine change. Harnessing the power and reach of social media, Millennials represent a generation whose voices cannot be silenced or ignored. This group has been raised with the ability to have their opinions heard—and shared with the world.

For Millennials, the importance and value of giving back is ingrained from an early age, which has contributed to them being labeled the “do-gooder” generation. As they enter and advance in the workforce, organizations need to be prepared to make the necessary adjustments in order to align with the philanthropic, lifestyle and progressive values of their highly optimistic and equally driven young employees. Millennials recognize and believe in the importance of finding balance and they place a high value on quality of life.

A 2015 survey of university students by the Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life explored how the next generation of leaders view quality of life and the role it will play in tomorrow’s workplace. The study indicated that the vast majority of respondents made a clear connection between quality of life and overall performance. In fact, 69 percent “totally agree” that improving quality of life would have an important impact on the performance of their organization. In addition, these young leaders ranked quality of life as the number one driver of performance – higher than the quality of products and services, innovation and technology and even higher than business and financial strategy.

While millennials come into the workforce with a predisposed desire to give back as an important factor in their Quality of Life, it is still up to employers to engage them in meaningful ways. According to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, Millennial employees are most inspired and influenced by their relationships with colleagues and peers. In this way, it does not come as a surprise that 65% of millennials surveyed were more likely to volunteer if their coworkers participated, whereas only 44% were more likely to participate if their supervisor volunteered. In a similar way, millennials place high importance in knowing that their participation made a genuine and appreciable difference. In this study, 79% of millennial employees who participated in a company-sponsored initiative felt they made a positive difference.


Jennifer Williamson is Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Sodexo North America and a strong advocate for the new performance frontier: Quality of Life.  Ms. Williamson believes that multigenerational workforce communication is a key to driving better individual and organizational performance.

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