Fun drives high levels of well-being at the Best Workplaces for Millennials

Photo of two women smiling in a workplace
Employees who experience fun at work are 190% to 220% more likely to have high well-being levels, Great Place to Work found in its analysis of employee survey feedback used to generate the 2023 Best Workplaces for Millennials list.
Courtesy of Great Place to Work

The state of employee well-being hasn’t been particularly rosy the past few years, and it continues to worsen, particularly among young professionals who report high levels of workplace stress and burn out.

Fortunately, the power of great cultures overrides that trend.

Organizations on this year’s Fortune Best Workplaces for Millennials™ List are bucking the norm across all measures of mental health and well-being, according to research from Great Place To Work®, who produced this year’s list based on nearly 500,000 millennial responses from eligible companies.

With loneliness reaching epidemic proportions in the U.S.—and higher among young people—care and camaraderie are a premium.

But younger generations at Best Workplaces™ don’t feel lonelier at work compared with their older co-workers. More than nine out of 10 (94%) workers across all generations say people care about each other.

“If you care for one generation, all generations benefit because you’re caring for people, not numbers on an Excel spreadsheet,” says Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place To Work. “Young people want what we all want—for their work to matter, to feel excited to start their day, to feel cared for and supported. When that happens for all people of all ages and backgrounds, gaps in the employee experience shrink. That’s the power of a great workplace for all.” 

Across Great Place To Work’s broader measures of well-being, nearly nine out of 10 millennials and Gen Zers report high well-being levels—on par with their Gen X and baby boomer colleagues.

Across one measure of well-being, psychological health and safety, nearly nine out of 10 millennials (86%) at winning companies say their company is healthy compared with 52% of their peers at a typical workplace, according to Great Place To Work research.

What drives well-being for millennials is the same for all ages. The No. 1 driver: fun.

Employees who experience fun at work are 190% to 220% more likely to have high well-being levels. Other well-being drivers across all generations are pride in one’s accomplishments, receiving a fair share of the profits, and the ability to take time off.

As with all culture work, it’s good for business. These winning workplaces outperform average companies across productivity, retention, and recruitment. Employees at winning companies are almost twice as likely to give extra to get the job done and recommend their company to others.

The top 5 things millennials experience at the Best Workplaces  

Nine out of 10 millennials at winning companies say their workplace is great compared to their peers at average companies, where just six out of 10 say the same.

Here’s a closer look at how these workplaces are creating positive experiences for their millennial workforce—and how that affects business success.

1. Feeling welcomed. Millennials who report feeling welcomed when joining their company are 40% more likely to feel people care about each other.

Tanium, No. 61 among large companies, creates several programs to help new staffers feel welcomed, included, and supported. New hires are paired with an onboarding buddy and mentor, and are encouraged to participate in employee engagement activities, including employee-wide virtual chats to meet co-workers across the company and twice-monthly “Meet the Founder” Q&A sessions.

2. Meaningful work. Making sure millennials feel a sense of purpose in their work – that what they do is “more than just a job” – is 52% better at winning workplaces than at average workplaces. And the more they feel their work matters, the more likely they’ll stay at their company. In this case, nearly three times more likely.

3. Feeling cared about. When millennials experience care, they’re 67% more likely to give extra at work. High levels of discretionary effort are always welcome, but are particularly important during lean economic times. At winning companies, 91% of millennials say they work in a culture of extra effort compared with 51% at a typical company. Discretionary effort is also what sets the Fortune 100 Best Companies apart from the rest this year. 

4. Fair pay and promotions. Ensuring that people are paid and promoted fairly drives millennials to give extra at their jobs. Millennials report Best Workplaces are 68% better at promoting people than at typical companies, and when that’s true, millennials are 15% more likely to give extra. And when workplaces ensure people are paid fairly, millennials are 35% more likely to give extra. 

5. Treated as a full team member regardless of position. Ninety three percent of millennial workers at winning companies experience this type of workplace equity, and when they do, these workers are 67% more likely to stay.

Roula Amire is the Content Director at Great Place To Work®.

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.