What do Millennials Want? Maybe the Same as You and Me!

board development and revitalization inquiry and transparency intentional practices mission. vision. values Dec 12, 2022
What do Millennials Want?


There has been considerable research, review and re-examination of the differences between millennials and other age groups (especially boomers), in what they are looking for in the workplace. But there has been little examination of their needs, interests, and motivation, for volunteering for your board. I suspect that there may be considerable overlap.


In follow-up to our recent free training webinars on board recruitment and revitalization, let’s examine how the motivation of millennials might be incorporated into your board recruitment efforts.


First off, millennials are not kids, except as compared to the typical not-for-profit board member!


Millennials are classified as people born between 1981 and 1996 (now aged 26-42), the first digitally native generation to enter the workplace. By 2025, it’s expected that 75% of the global workforce will be classed as millennials.


So, to help, here are a few research-backed truths about millennials and what they really want from their work, adjusted for not-for-profit board volunteer work.


A Culture Fit


What is your board culture?
How do you know?
Have you ever had the conversation?


Millennials want a culture fit, as well as a general sense of belonging – don’t we all? Is your culture creative and inclusive or authoritarian and rules-based?

What is your process for discussion and decision-making?


Aligned personal and organizational values


We have introduced a critical element to board recruitment, and that is the alignment of your vision, mission, and values with those of a prospective board member. Millennials want your organizational values to align with their own beliefs, but surely every board member should review your values to ensure that they resonate and reflect their own.


Do your vision and mission reflect the candidate’s values?


Of course, you also need to “walk the talk”, to live your values and have a laser focus on accomplishing your mission.


Timely and Regular Recognition


Millennials want recognition. No doubt we all need to be appreciated for our contributions, but we may not state it so specifically.


Their preferred form of recognition is peer-to-peer, whilst the least preferred way to be recognized is in private.


There is sufficient study to show that annual board reviews and self-assessments are not as common as they should be and self- and peer-assessments decidedly uncommon. You may need to review this reluctance. And what you do with the results.


Board members should be reviewed for their performance just as your staff should be – surely it is no less important -- and high performers recognized for their work.


Share this article with your friends and colleagues!



Ability to Learn and Rise Through the Ranks


Just as we rarely assign rigour to board recruitment (we too often come across as cloying and begging for volunteers) we don’t take our leadership positions as seriously as we should – and suffer for it. What is your role description for your board chair? What is the review process? How is the chair supported and recognized?


But millennials want opportunities for “career progression” so maybe we need to invest more in professional growth and development opportunities and encourage progressions from member to committee chair to board chair.


Work-Life Balance


Is that meeting really necessary?

‘Nuff said.

Read our free e-book on effective meetings.

Don’t waste time that could and should be spent with family and pursuing recreational passions.


Flexible Working


We may need to re-think our options and opportunities for meetings, whether virtually or remotely. And our committee meetings.

And our use of technology.

And our provision of training for those reluctant to embrace more technological approaches – which are better for productivity, time management and the environment.


Purpose Over Profit


Of course, you don’t make a profit…

But do you have an impact? How do you know?
How are you improving the quality of experience of people who live and work in your community?
Not simply anecdotes. And not simply transactional numbers.

What are your outcomes? What is your impact?
Where is your evidence?



Millennials may have specific preferences for workplace practices. And these have implications for how we recruit and conduct our board business.


But these also reflect best practices.


If we are serious about diversity around the board table, we need to be open to change. Diversity of age should be a pretty easy place to start.



What are your main “pain points” dealing with recruiting younger board members?

What advice would be most helpful to you?
And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!


Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.


Make an Impact!

Online Training Programs with Ken Haycock


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In this one-month course, you will move from feeling reticent and tentative to competent and confident, asking good questions and making great contributions. The course complements and reinforces your on-site orientation and opens new channels of communication and discussion. Four weeks. Two brief video lessons (watch at your convenience) per week plus downloadable handouts. 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Our spotlight course is designed for CEOs/Executive Directors, Board Chairs, and those who are interested in leadership positions on not-for-profit, for-impact boards. Six weeks. Three brief video lessons with handouts per week (watch at your convenience) plus additional downloadable resources. 30-day money-back guarantee.

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 P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email.



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