The Millennial Question: WIIFM?

The chatter after lunch was about Millennials in the workplace. A boomer colleague told us about a new employee – first week on the job — who asked what he should expect to get out of his job. He might have asked, “What’s in it for me?”

Or colloquially, “WIIFM?”

We indulged in some faux shock and chuckling about the younger and now most numerous generation in the workforce. If you’re a boomer or an X-er, the answer would have been “a paycheck”.

On reflection, however, it sounds like a great question. Indeed, the fact that we never would have asked it doesn’t mean we weren’t thinking it.

Then, job-hopping was a telltale sign on a resume. Now, with fewer levels of management into which one might get promoted and with salary increases harder to come by, young workers – particularly the more curious, talented or ambitious – will jump ship at the drop of a hat.

Among CEO’s and business owners, one of the biggest challenges is finding, keeping and developing good employees. Businesses hire consultants to help improve employee engagement and implement professional development programs. Motivational speakers talk about empowerment, corporate culture and leadership.

The question asked by the young professional who prompted our post-repast chat was not asked too soon. It was asked too late. Wouldn’t it make sense for employers to know what prospective employees want to learn during the interview? Wouldn’t it make sense for the prospective employee to ask the question then?

At the end of the day, we all want to know:

WIIFM?