Ever since millennials have crossed the threshold of childhood, they have constantly been under the radar. They are probably the most over-scrutinized, over analysed generations of all times. Marketers term them as the “hardest target audience to engage” and managers call them the “hardest bunch to manage”.
If you are an employer or a manager having a tough time managing and retaining the millennial employees, you’re in the right place!
In this blog, I’ll take you through the whys and hows of understanding millennials in the workforce.
Who are the Millennials?
Wikipedia says millennials are the individuals reaching early adulthood in the 21st Century. However, different studies, magazines, and websites place millennials in slightly different age ranges. According to Newsweek magazine, the Millennial generation was born between 1977 and 1994. The New York Times placed the Millennials at 1976-1990 and Time magazine placed them between 1980-2000.
Considering the endpoints, the range 1977 to 2000 can be taken as the broader age group of millennials.
Millennials or Gen Xers are no longer school and college-goers, they are not the future anymore. They are the present and they have already taken over the workforce.
As of 2017, 56 million millennials were either working or looking for work. This makes them the largest generation in the workforce.
It’s high time that companies acknowledge that Generation Gaps do exist. They must take steps to accommodate this distinct generation in the workforce.
Millennials, the first lot to be born and raised in the digital era naturally show traits that are different from the other generations.
They are termed as tech-savvy, lazy, innovative, extremely optimistic, open-minded and supportive individuals. Also, they are so accustomed to easy access to technology, that it takes a lot to impress them.
As a result, millennials have very high (and often unrealistic) expectations from their employee experience.
(Related article: The Top 7 HR Trends for 2019 )
But Corporations are largely failing to live up to these unique set of expectations. This is resulting in a higher level of disengagement among the millennials.
What do Millennials want? How to engage them?
The profound focus on work-life balance is probably one of the biggest changes brought in by millennial employees. Work-life balance is the buzzword among millennials and many of them are successfully balancing their work and life.
Most job functions today do not require employees to be physically present at work every day. The traditional 9 to 5 work hours is starting to become an outdated concept. The technological shift to mobile communication has completely redefined the work culture.
Technology, on one hand, has enabled millennials to work seamlessly from anywhere. On the other hand, it has also made millennial employees highly approachable. They are “always available” and do not mind working during off hours. Checking work emails on phone during holidays and vacation is a norm for millennials.
Work-life harmony has become a reality because of flexible working options like work-from-home, telecommunication and remote working.
Too early to say but they might just have perfected the dream of the work-life blend.
With millennials dominating the workforce, employee engagement must become the top priority.
Millennials are constantly choosing perks and culture over paychecks. While accepting a job offer, they look at the complete job profile and company culture. They have extremely high expectations from their employee experience. They want to feel connected to the work they do and also to the organization they work for.
Organizations must take the necessary actions to build an engaged workforce. They should constantly update and improve their policies and practices with the best trends around the globe
Career Growth Opportunities
Millennials are extremely career oriented and they are always looking at the bigger picture. With every job-experience, they want to learn, grow and evolve. They are terrified of the word stagnant and they want to have a progressive career trajectory. They are also “job-hoppier” than baby boomers.
Employers must be ready to facilitate career growth opportunities to retain millennial employees.
Companies should maintain a culture of transparency and fairness. Rewards and recognition efforts should be made more visible. Organizations should also invest more in learning and development programs.
Also, organizations must acknowledge that the personal growth of the employees is equally important. Companies now are offering attractive perks to employees such as sabbatical from work to pursue education, sponsoring enrollment special training and courses, e-learning platforms etc.
Cultivating leaders in the workforces:
According to Work Place Trends, 91% of respondents expressed a desire to lead. Nearly 50% of them also said that they believed leadership is important to them.
Millennials often equate leadership with empowerment. They have very strong opinions on most matters and they like to take charge of things. They also show a high inclination towards leadership skills such as communication, relationship building, problem-solving and decision making.
While engaging millennials in the workforce, employers must emphasise more on creating future leaders and not just productive employees. The best way to cultivate leaders among millennials is by modelling and mentoring leadership skills early on.
Pushing Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace
Millennials are the epitome of global citizens. They acknowledge, encourage, recognize and appreciate diversity because they are more socially aware. Social media has brought the whole world closer in ways that were unimaginable by previous generations. Thus, making millennials the most culturally and racially diverse generation of all time.
According to Glassdoor, 67% of the jobs seeker weigh diversity as a factor before evaluating companies and job offers.
Their outlook towards diversity is very different than any of the previous generations. They see diversity as the infusion of new ideas, different perspectives and varying experiences.
Millennials are not only welcoming but also enthusiastic about having diversity. They believe it is essential in the workforce to be it in terms of race, colour, demographics, equal representation and more.
Organizations are bound to see a huge increase in diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives in the workplace.
Challenging and engaging work
30% of employees said the lack of challenging work is there the prime reason for leaving a job. (Randstad)
To keep your millennial employees engaged and invested in their jobs, organizations must create interesting and challenging jobs. Millennials are exceptionally good with technology. Learning new computer languages or developing new skills doesn’t seem like an uphill task to them.
74% millennials are ready to learn new skills or re-train to remain employable in the future. (Workforce of the future)
Having some level of challenge is more preferable by millennials over boring and mundane jobs. As a result, certain job roles that have become common in the recent time didn’t even exist a decade ago.
Giving back to the society
Millennials are showing a higher sense of social responsibility. They are redefining the work environment and one of the ways is through reinventing philanthropy. Millennials look for perks and benefits that give them the opportunity to make the world a better place. They acknowledge their responsibility in bringing change and are optimistic about their abilities.
This again has a lot to do with digitization, millennials are now more aware of the problems. They understand the role of community participation in combating social and environmental issues. They are more than willing to do their part.
84 per cent of millennial employees gave to charity and 70 per cent donated more than an hour to a charitable cause. (Millennial Impact Report: 2015)
Organizations should, therefore, take more efforts to connect millennials to various social and environmental causes.
88% prefer a collaborative work culture than one driven by competition (Payscale)
Millennials are collaborative, supportive and they are excellent team players. They perform better when they are in teams. They are also more welcoming to ideas and input coming from different people with diverse outlook and background. Likewise, they believe that collaboration brings out the best results.
They’ve lived in an hyper-connected world of social networking. Socialization is an important part of their lifestyle. They have an innate need to exchange their views and ideas and therefore seek a similar environment at work.
Hence, cultures and work environments that promote collaborative work will quickly become the norm.