Every generation brings something new to the workplace, and millennials are no exception. As a group, they tend to be highly educated, love to learn, and grew up with the Internet and digital tools in a way that can be highly useful when leveraged properly.
– Kathryn Minshew
Millennials are challenging the status quo worldwide and form the largest demographic in almost every workplace today! They have brought into effect some very radical changes in the corporate culture, like moving into leadership roles quicker than baby boomers or hopping jobs until they find the one that satisfies their thirst for some highly productive work.
They place utmost weight on qualities such as openness, collaboration and flexibility than any of their previous counterparts. However, they also bring to the table some great quality of work with their tech-savvy and ‘always eager to learn something new’ attitude!
Let’s explore the era of the millennial workforce in the workplaces of today and try to decode all things millennial.
How The Millennials Are Redefining The Workplace…
Millennials form the largest set of workers to emerge after the baby boomers and as this group grows as a proportion to the total workforce, the employers will need to make major adjustments in their engagement models. Millennials are multi-tasking, super-confident, technologically sound and well-educated ones who are full of positive energy.
They seek challenges, yet look out for a workplace that lets them maintain a sound work-life balance. They also have high expectations for themselves, and prefer to work in teams rather than as individuals. They also have high expectations from the workplaces, in the sense that they expect something more than the traditional ‘9-5’ routine.
If they don’t see value in the work that they do, they will change their job in a heartbeat, switching to something that interests them and builds a suitable experience too. Earlier generations typically followed accepted business traditions when it comes to dressing, standards of behaviour and respect for the top-down corporate structure.
Things are the way they are, which used to fly well for them, but for the millennials, not so much! The employers need to have a completely different set of retention and engagement strategies for the millennials of today.
What Do Millennials Need From The Workplace?
1. Purposeful Work:
Millennials have a contrasting outlook towards work wherein they don’t believe in logging in eight hours behind a desk, and clocking out at five. They approach a role and a company with a highly defined set of expectations and want their work to have a meaning and purpose. They want to learn and develop while using their talent and strengths to do what they do best every day.
A job that accelerates their professional or career development is extremely important to them. They are not looking for just a job, but looking for one that fits into the bigger picture of their career path.
2. Good Salaries:
A good pay package is as important for the millennials as great work experience. They want a pay raise as they switch between jobs that add to their professional graph.
According to a survey, about four in ten employees said a significant increase in income is also very important for them when considering a new job.
3. Perks and Benefits:
Millennials are often associated with benefits such as offices having onsite gyms, or pet-friendly offices or a cafeteria etc. But the benefits they value align with those that other generations see as most important, such as things related to the quality of life like paid vacations, life insurance and retirement plans.
They want benefits and perks that have a direct impact on their lives and the lives of the family members such as flexibility, autonomy and ability to lead a better life.
Millennials are not very comfortable with yearly performance reviews, which generally tend to be one-sided too. What they are instead looking out for is ongoing feedback, clear goals and collaborative goal setting. They want to indulge in more frequent, informal check-ins with managers, which in turn helps them to see how their day-to-day work is linked with the organisation’s goals.
This makes them 3.5 times more likely to be engaged with the overall process and policies.
It’s the best time for the millennial era, as more workplaces are open to adopting flexible ways of working such as remote, part-time, etc. Millennials like to kick back and work in a relaxed environment, maybe out of a café or in their pajamas at home and research states that doing so has positive engagement rates.
Millennials place importance on having a life and not just a job, which is fulfilled by switching to workplaces that allow flexitime.
In fact, Gallup consistently finds that flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job.
What Do Millennials Bring To The Workplaces?
1. Better Use of Technology:
Millennials understand the power of using technology and know that it is the most efficient way to make better decisions. They tend to be more optimistic and adaptable when it comes to new technologies, and will likely institute more advanced platforms at a faster rate than their predecessors.
This will help organisations make better decisions and organize resources in a better way, as everything will be backed by genuine data which is stored previously.
2. Better Feedback:
It’s a fact that regular and continuous feedback is a great boon for the employers as well as the employees as it fosters better communication and alignment of overall company goals with individual goals.
Millennials seek feedback a lot more than any other type of employees, which will likely follow them into leadership positions, except as leaders, they will have the power to institute a powerful system.
3. Diversity and Inclusion:
Millennials value diversity and inclusion to a great extent. Since they are the most diverse generation, they are naturally more enthusiastic about their philosophies and political battles, and they feel that diversity has been handled poorly by the past generations.
With more and more millennials joining leadership positions, we are bound to see a bigger push for inclusions programmes and diversity overall.
4. Welcoming ‘Generation Z’:
Millennials are aging, and they will most likely look out for the coming generation, the generation Z. Most demographers describe Gen Z as the ones starting between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. They will be the ones entering the workforce for the first time.
Millennials will start noticing the key differences of the generation that is about to replace them and will start to prepare to address these changes, helping organisations chart out a better succession plan.
Common Myths About Millennials Debunked!
Millennials are definitely the most studied generation and probably the most misunderstood one. There are a lot of speculations that are linked to millennials, which need to be corrected. Here are some very common myths attached to millennials:
1. They Feel Entitled:
Most people have the notion that the millennials feel entitled, more than any other previous generation, but there is hardly any evidence in support of this.
Millennials are definitely more willing to speak up for themselves, and express their opinions, even to their superiors. They are not afraid to ask for a salary raise or a promotion, or to take the risk to move on when necessary.
2. They Are Lazy:
Millennials swear by the motto – ‘work smarter, not harder’, which is why they are characterized as lazy most often. But the picture is altogether different.
Millennials, in fact, tend to be more productive as they stay away from inefficiency and bureaucracy and are constantly on the lookout for doing more in less time.
3. They Are Obsessed With Technology:
Millennials have literally grown living around technology, so it’s quite natural for them to be inclined towards the same.
However, a recent survey conducted by Randstad revealed that 39% of millennials state that their preferred mode of communication in a workplace is in fact face-to-face communication over the regular emails and text messages.
4. They Want Constant Praise:
It is a very common myth that all millennials need from a job or from their bosses is constant praise and recognition.
When in fact the reality is that the majority of the millennials claim to want a boss that is fair, ethical, transparent, consistent and dependable, according to a recent IBM study.
How To Keep The Millennials Happy?
Workplace demographics have evolved tremendously, with millennials accounting for 50% of the workforce which is only set to increase to nearly 75% by 2025.
This makes it essential for companies to be prepared for meeting the needs of the millennial employees. This is how the companies are making every effort to keep them happy and having a successful millennial-friendly workplace!
1. Great Work Culture:
Probably the first aspect millennials look for in a job is a company brimming with a positive work environment and some great work culture. The generic perks being ping pong tables, happy hours or catered lunches might just be enough to lure them in your company, but not enough to make them stay for long.
What really attaches any millennial to a workplace is the one where they are happy working, and feel a sense of camaraderie with their peers.
2. Allow Them To Learn And Grow:
Millennials are always ready to learn new skills and rank access to learning opportunities as a top employer benefit. Most of them don’t receive enough training too, which is also a major reason for them to quit early from a job.
It’s important to allow them to learn first through proper training sessions which can include peer-to-peer learning, mentoring and formal training, and then letting them flourish through the work they want to do.
One of the great ways to open newer channels of learning for the millennials is to assign them a buddy in their first few weeks. A buddy is a peer who can help them navigate their new job and answer questions. This puts them at ease as new employees are much more likely to ask a peer a question than a supervisor, especially during the first few weeks.
3. Give Them Continuous Feedback:
Bi-annual performance reviews are outdated. Today, millennials expect frequent feedback and regular check-ins which helps them stay on the right track and foresee problems, allowing them to rectify or take preventive measures in time.
It’s also important to recognize their achievements while having proper feedback mechanisms in place. Millennials come from a world where everything is in the public domain. From school to social media, they are used to having a direct measurement of their successes and failures.
Employers need to just mimic this behaviour and celebrate accomplishments and publicly display employee achievements. Reward them for achieving their targets, going out of their way to take care of customers or for their great performance.
Millennials need to look forward to their jobs and recognizing their efforts is one very good way to be able to do that.
4. Give Them Technology:
Millennials understand technology like no one else. They are very much at ease with social media and using multiple channels for communication. They value openness and approachability to a great extent.
This is also the reason why collaboration tools like ‘Workplace’ by Facebook work very well with them – such tools help enable the culture of honesty and trust that’s valuable to millennials.
A company can strengthen its own online community, by tapping into the social media skills of their millennial employees.
5. Value Their Opinions:
Just as millennials crave regular feedback, they also want their voices to be heard and acknowledged. The most overlooked tool for knowing what exactly your employees want is simply asking them!
Millennials are outspoken individuals who have been taught to speak up when they have an idea. They are taught to be a part of a discussion and not just an afterthought. Hear out their suggestions and implement the ones that really have positive outcomes for your company.
It’s not necessary to implement each idea, but to hear them out, hold discussions and figure out what works best. Even if the idea isn’t implemented, it shows that the leadership team values the contribution and is willing to listen to them.
6. Give Back To The Community:
It may come as a surprise, considering the myths that surround millennials, but for them Corporate Social Responsibility is another top priority. They want a proper channel for CSR activities in a company, in a way that has a direct impact on the community.
They need to ensure that the work they do on a daily basis, somehow contributes to the bigger picture, which is to give back to society. The more ways a company gives back to the community, the happier your millennial employees will be.
By being able to decode how millennials think and operate, companies can reevaluate practices that have been in place for decades, and do away with things that are no longer necessary. Companies should rethink and realign their systems, to allow a seamless transition of the millennials in the workplaces of today!