“Job Hoppers”, “Individualists” and “Entitled” are just some of the terms used when describing Millennials. While there isn’t a universally accepted definition, “Millennials” are defined as those who were born between early 1980s and early 2000s. These are also known as the Generation Y.
Millennials’ expectations are very much different from that of the previous generations (e.g. Gen X and Baby Boomers). This generation is born into small families with dual-income parents. With more disposable income and lack of time for them, their parents tend to shower them with love and attention. The Millennials tend to be given whatever they ask for. This explains the need for instant gratification. They are born in the era of “internet and mobile phone”. Thus, they are “connected” to the internet world, and their fingers are constantly “glued” to their mobile phones.
Workwise, they do not perceive work as a 9-to-5 job but one that is fun, flexible and provides fulfillment in their lives. However, that does not mean that they do not take pride in their work or are not committed to their work. Millennials are also viewed as a power-hungry. They expect to climb the corporate ladder quickly with multiple salary increments along the way. To many, this is an unrealistic goal; to the Millennials, that’s how things are supposed to be.
Our empirical research shows that staff attrition rates in an organisation are highly correlated with key engagement indicators such as the “competency of supervisors”, “work processes” and “staff welfare”, regardless of age. Compared with the Baby Boomers and Gen X, the Millennials value “welfare” more and are not afraid to speak up for their “rights”.
Though the Millennials are different from the earlier generations, they have the strengths and for the future leadership team of every organisation. It is thus important for employers to challenge existing paradigms to retain these employees and harness their strengths. Here are some useful tips:
1. Aim for Work-life Harmony
The key word is “harmony” rather than “balance”. “Balance” gives the impression that we need to have a 50-50 split between work and life. The question is whether it is possible to create such a balance. Instead, aim for work-life harmony. This means that when the Millennials are at work, they should be happy and contented, without having to worry about home or kids. They shouldn’t have to ask themselves the question “What’s the meaning of life?” while they are at work.
As their leaders, try to know the Millennials better on a personal note. Find out what they value in life, whom they treasure most, what they want out of life and the “non-negotiables” in life. Then, avoid situations when they are “forced” to make a compromise on these things that they value for work. For example, if the millennial values “family”, ensure that she takes her leave to attend the parent-teacher meeting at her child’s school. Do not ask her to cancel the leave application to attend to “urgent” matters at work.
2. Leverage on Their Tech-savviness
Millennials will likely be familiar with more than 10 social apps, could have a blog or website, use smartphones. “Technology” is their middle name. Without a laptop in front of them, they have issues “thinking” and “writing”. At least 90% of the communication is via emails or text messages instead of speaking over the phone. For them, the key factor in selecting a hotel is “internet access”.
Harness on this strength by giving them tasks that require them to tap into it. Then, they would likely gain a greater sense of satisfaction in everything they do. To help improve work efficiency, enlist their help to search for apps that could improve productivity. Use the mobile phone to complement face-to-face communication (e.g. create chat groups, send videos or photos using mobile phones to enhance understanding). For coaching purposes, search for information on the internet and send useful ones to team members.
3. Create a Fun Working Environment
Baby Boomers and Gen X tend to take their work very seriously and expect the Millennials to do so too. When we create a workplace where there is loads of positive energy, smiles, and enjoyment, Millennials feel compelled to share with their friends and family how wonderful their work environment is. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy since the act of sharing this information attests to the fact that it is a great work environment
How could one create FUN at work?
- Think of ways to create friendship rather than to maintain a professional working relationship. (Examples – Go for drinks together, organise team bonding activities, etc.
- Create an environment that’s fun! (Examples – Provide a “chill-out” place where the team can gather or encourage people decorate their workstations in a way that will cheer them up.)
While the demographics of your workforce will continue to change, what separates good organisations from great ones is the ability to adapt to the changing needs of employees. Beacon can help your company understand and manage Millennials better through our proprietary solution – TrueInsights ©. Find out more at www.beacon.com.sg or call us at 6873 9768.