Working with Millennials: Four Things You Need to Know

schedule 01 Aug 2016


According to PwC, three quarters of employees globally will be millennials by year 2025. That’s why it’s the crowd that is high in demand. Smart organisations are leaving nothing to chance and are molding their organisations to fit the needs of millennials. If you want to be one of them, here’s a cheat sheet.

You’re skeptical about their commitment at work, you’ve called them names, and you’ve judged their work culture. Millennials, however, have survived.


Today, they hold the reins of your organisation and are changing the ways in which it operates. Most organisations have acknowledged the influence wielded by these 20-somethings and are leaving no stone unturned in trying to woo them. They have found the secret formula. Take, for instance, the companies that top Fortune’s Great Place to Work’s first-ever ranking of the 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials. These companies, according to Fortune, stand out for their ability to engage this generation, recognize their talents and give them a significant role where they can make a difference.

At these companies, pay, profit-sharing, and promotion decisions are executed fairly; everyone gets a shot at special recognition; and employees have a say in decisions that affect them. These workplaces exhibit strong, open, two-way communication; a high tolerance for risk-taking; high levels of cooperation and support among co-workers, according to Fortune.

While all that could take some time to achieve, you can start small. Here are four things you need to know in order to create a fruitful experience for both millennials and your organisation.

Millenials Love Feedback
Everybody likes an occasional pat on the back or just a push in the right direction. Millennials are no different. In fact, they are hungry for feedback. They are keen to know if what they are doing and how they are doing it makes a difference to their organisation.

They aren’t interested in year-end, formal reviews which are sometimes too little, too late. Millennials want frequent feedback. Micah Solomon, a company culture consultant and bestselling author, shared a conversation he had with a recently hired millennial in an article in Forbes. He said:

“This was the first time in my life that nobody cared about the quality of my work–or if they actually did care, I couldn’t tell. The quality of my work could be great, or just ok; the response I received was the same either way.”

That’s a sentiment that resonates among millennials across the globe. In a recent global survey by Gallup titled ‘How Millennials Want to Work and Live’, only 19% said that they received routine feedback. That’s telling.

Millennials want and value frequent feedback. But how frequent is frequent? Millennials vote for weekly (or at least monthly). PwC’s study on How to Manage Millennials says employers should give millennials honest feedback in real time—and highlight positive contributions or improvements on key competencies.


Millenials Believe in Creating Social Change
Millennials have been known to have an opinion about everything. With platforms to voice it, millennials across the world are stirring up revolutions. Their stubborn dismissal of injustice and their resolve to take responsibility for the welfare of the world at large has made them socially-aware.

They respect organisations that believe in taking corporate social responsibility seriously. In Malaysia, corporate responsibility (CR) plays a big role for millennials in their choice of employer with 86% choosing employers with similar corporate responsibility values. 77% stated that they would leave an employer whose values no longer matched their expectations.

That’s how serious millennials are about corporate responsibility. If you want to attract and retain millennials, you need to create an image of being an organisation that is compassionate towards social welfare. Make them in-charge of corporate social responsibility initiatives and empower them to create change.

Millennials Like to Maintain Work-Life Balance
What really sets millennials apart from baby boomers is that they firmly believe in work-life balance. So much so that it trumps cash bonuses.

When asked what benefits they would value most over the next five years, flexible work hours topped the list with 58% of millennials in Malaysia opting for it, while cash bonuses came second (49%).

That’s surprising considering millennials are perceived as a generation that would love to earn only to spend. Employers need to play close attention to this and support their need for work-life balance. Millennials are willing to slog during work hours—only during work hours—but detest being called to work on weekends. Their job isn’t their life, unlike baby boomers whose lives depended on their jobs.

You give this to them and they will put in all they have to ensure your organisation meets its goals.

Millennials Want to Explore Leadership Roles
Even after ensuring you get all of the above right, you’ll have to resign to the fact that millennials aren’t going to stay in your organisation like baby boomers did.

But it’s also true that organisations aren’t doing their best to keep them happy. More than six in ten millennials worldwide (63%) say their leadership skills are not being fully developed. In some markets, such as Brazil and the Southeast Asian nations of Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, the figure exceeds 70%, according to a survey by Deloitte.

Millennials’ loyalty to an organisation depends on the sense of fulfilment they obtain from their current role. They know that they pretty much call the shots and as employers you need to realise that before they quit your organisation for greener pastures.

Today, millennials are forcing organisations to change gears and take the road they have paved, questioning the tried-and-tested. If you want millennials on your side, the best you can do is realise their potential, acknowledge their contribution, and trust them to leave a lasting impact on your company.


Stay ahead of the competition by enabling your employees to work offsite securely. Find out how with Managed Mobility.

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