Workforce Generations: Who is next? – part 2…

These are a few quotes from millennials to give you an exact picture of who they are:

“The people who work for you aren’t building a company for you, they are building it for themselves—they are the centre of their own universe. Just because you are the CEO doesn’t mean they are coming to work every day to make you happy. They want to be happy, and it’s your job to keep them that way.” [Ben Lerer, Thrillist]

“Even your most talented employees have room for growth in some area, and you’re doing your employee a disservice if the sum of your review is “You’re great!” No matter how talented the employee, think of ways he could grow towards the position he might want to hold two, five, or 10 years down the line.” [Kathryn Minshew, The Muse]

Here are the qualities in terms of strength, personality, abilities, and traits that millennials bring into the work place:

  1. They have a reputation for caring about the work they do more than the money or job title.
  2. They are very innovative and resourceful, using what they have effectively to achieve productive results.
  3. They are very adaptable. Change does not make them less motivated, they are quite good relievers for colleagues.
  4. They grew up working in groups, thus have a collaborative mindset and are effective in teams to get assignments done.
  5. They are enthusiastic and positive about work and can be great ambassadors for your company culture and brand.
  6. They grew up being part of the decision making in their homes, they want to share responsibility. So, let them.
  7. They are concerned with organizational ethics and social responsibility at work, which is good for employers.

Here are the relevant expectations millennials have from top management and employers generally in the workplace:

  1. They want to be innovative and do not want their employers to become hindrances in their innovation.
  2. They need a chance to prove their leadership skills. They want their employers to recognize that potential.
  3. They expect businesses to care. They surely expect their employers to carry out their social responsibilities.
  4. They are known to want more flexibility from their working environments, office hours, and autonomy.
  5. If employers don’t take their expectations seriously. They are prepared to go their own way and become their own bosses.

Here are tips on how to engage, relate and retain millennials to get the productive best from them in the work place:

1. Employers/management has to provide leadership and guidance: Millennials want to look up to you, learn from your actions, and receive daily feedback from their lead. They want in on the whole picture and want to know the scoop. So, plan to spend a lot of time in teaching and coaching sessions and be aware of this commitment to millennials when you hire them. They deserve and want your very best investment of time in their success.

2. Employers/management should encourage and allow Millennials to create: chaining young employees to their desks and burying them in humdrum routines is the fastest way to get discontented and uninspired workers. Conversely, management should loosen the job design and allow room for innovation from them. They seek ever-changing tasks within their work. What is happening next is their mantra. Don’t bore them, ignore them, or trivialize their contributions.

3. Employers/management should recognize priority for a work life balance workplace: Millennials may be used to cramming their lives with multiple activities, but they place premium value on work life balance and employers who have that within their firms. They may be on sports teams, walk for multiple causes, spend time as fans at company sports leagues, and spend lots of time with family and friends. They work hard, but they are not into the sixty-hour work weeks defined by the Baby Boomers. Home, spending time with the children and families, are priorities. Do not lose sight of this. Balance and multiple activities are important to these millennial employees. Ignore this at your peril.

4. Employers/management should take advantage of the Millennials’ comfort level with teams: you should encourage Millennials to join teams and provide work environments that stress teamwork. They are used to working in groups and teams. Unlike the lone ranger attitude of earlier generations, Millennials actually believe that a team can accomplish more and better. They have enjoyed team success as teenagers. At the company picnic, not because of age relatedness, watch who joins the volleyball match. Millennials gather in groups and play on teams; you can also mentor, coach, and train your millennials as teams.

5. Employers/management should check their biases about Millennials: Millennials have an unfair and often unfounded reputation in the workplace. They are seen by more mature colleagues as self-centred, disloyal, and disrespectful. Added to this, they may be seen as being prone to frequent job moves, having high career expectations and being difficult to manage. Unsurprisingly, these negative stereotypes can cause concerns for managers and for millennials coming into the business, which can increase conflict amongst teams or ultimately cost the organisation a loss of talent? The mark of any good manager is of one who sets aside his/her own biases and deals with each employee based on his/her own merits. Using a broad brush to paint something as highly detailed and complex as workplace culture is never going to be successful.

6. Employers/Management should be aware that money is not everything to a Millennial: Millennials do understand the value of money; but it’s just not their primary motivation. Millennials are especially motivated by dynamic, cross-functional positions. They also seek jobs that enable them to be in contact with and learn from interesting people, interacting with other professionals and teams. What they value most is the attractiveness of the work itself, mobility (both geographical and between assignments), the opportunity to meet people and network, and a relaxed atmosphere. They love being able to ‘customize’ their compensation packages with things like additional days off, flexible hours, telecommuting, or discounts. Although their professional motivations and objectives differ from those of their predecessors, millennials are also ambitious. They may not aspire to have many direct reports or a particular job title, but they are interested in reaching executive positions where they can have an impact on the world.

The present system and ergonomics of work, which was defined by previous generations and businesses, had to adapt to the uniqueness of those generations. However, Millennials are here to stay and will disrupt and redefine how work in general will be. Thus, the profitable approach for C-suites and employers is to comprehensively understand, appreciate, and begin to integrate and review their present employee engagement approaches, learning and teaching systems, retention strategies, compensation and welfare programmes, succession plans, work time schedules, and decision-making strategies because this generation of millennials bring with them their unique abilities, challenges, and potential, which will impact organisational survival and productivity.

Matthew Nesiayali

Master in International Human Resources Management

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