Engaging the Millennials

Engaging the Millennials

Companies that focus on employee experience outperform companies that don’t. They retain and engage millennials better, and become beacons for top ‘millennial’ talent. Creating engaging employee experiences is critical for companies wanting to engage ‘millennial’ and to win the war on next generation talent.

Recently, I had the opportunity to address a group of very bright and energetic students in a renowned management institute on engaging millennials. Subsequently, I have reflected many times on the topic of discussion and wondered if I had done justice to the students. Did I stick to the point? Was I able to give them any takeaways? Did it serve the purpose it had intended? Reflections are very important for us as managers, hence I always go back to discussions and reflect on the purpose it served. Upon honest reflection, I feel it couldn’t have gone better. Let me share my reflections with all of you and seek your thoughts on it. There is a sense of panic (for lack of a better word), which seems to take over managers the minute we talk about millennials. The general feeling is that they’re very tech savvy and entitled. As a person who will have to work with this group of people, if I carry this feeling, I won’t be able to do justice to their development and integration into the organization.

“Millennials are born in a time when information is instantly available, which has changed their outlook drastically compared to other generations.”

The first thing I spoke about is that I don’t think they’re any different from what we were when at their age. Sure, they’re tech savvy, but that’s because we didn’t have this technology then. We were better than a generation before us because we knew how to operate computers. That was tech savvy back then.

We had a feeling of entitlement, as we felt that people before us were too traditional and we had breakthrough ideas. The technology has changed, the way of the youth hasn’t. Millennials are born in a time when information is instantly available, which has changed their outlook drastically compared to other generations. They have grown up with digital devices that combine communication, entertainment, shopping, and education all in one enabling them to multi-task. This has affected their lifestyle which makes it distinct from other generations. Understanding this is important as it determines how they engage with people, products and services, what they expect, what they need and how they behave. I felt that it was an important message for these young minds. They should be allowed space and scope to voice their opinions and ideas. They won’t do so if they are shut down by some manager who’s on a panic mode. Truth is, we’re all scared of things that we don’t understand. However, the fact is that we do understand. We were in their place a few years back.

Post this context, it was important to talk about the engagement piece. Again, my thoughts are slightly different in this matter, hence I felt that I should allow the students to have their say on how they’d like to be engaged at work. There were many ideas about fun at work and how they’d like to enjoy and have a good time in the office. I couldn’t agree more… but my perspective on this differed in the line of engagement. I agreed that fun at work is important, but work itself can be fun. It’s so very important to find what you enjoy and work with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t asking any of them to leave their studies and take up something exotic and exciting. I advocated integration. Do you love to write? Work in the media, maybe you’ll get there someday. You love to travel, take up a challenging assignment in sales & marketing. Go out and explore the corporate world. Enjoy what you do. The biggest challenge a professional faces is that of boredom. Don’t do something which bores you. Find out what work excites you and then work towards that. Not everyone will get exactly what they want at the beginning of their career, but all can work towards it.

Finally, we spoke about how to prepare for the corporate world. I had a simple thought on this – Do what you know, carry the right attitude and keep learning. Everything individual you come across is going to give you a lesson. Learn well, imbibe and implement. Success is there for the taking. Will everyone succeed? I believe so. They may or may not understand it themselves, but almost everyone succeeds. My success is determined by my own capability and competence. If I do my best in everything, I am successful. The degree of success will vary, but that’s because we measure success with fixed parameters. If we open our mind and view it through our own competence, we will always define our own success.

The question that comes up is, will organizations accept such definitions? The answer is probably not and that’s why it’s critical to find a role which excites and inspires you. If you are excited and passionate about something, you will succeed. However, a word of caution to all readers, first make sure that you have the necessary competence and ability to do that job. You may be passionate about singing, but can’t hold a tune; it’s a good idea to find a day job to keep the family running.


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