Businesses, all over, are now powered by millennials, a generation born between 1980 and 2000, who reached young adulthood in the early 21st century. In the next four years, people born in this era will constitute half of the workforce throughout the globe, and three-quarters of the workforce in the next ten.
Acquiring and retaining the best of this breed will help shape the future of every workplace. Millenials matter not just because they bring new values and ardour to the enterprise, but because, unlike the Baby Boomer generation, they do not fall under the ‘soon-to-retire’ category.
Raised amid Wi-Fi, laptops, tablets, smartphones and social media, millennials are also the first generation to enter the workplace with a better knowledge of a key business tool than many senior workers. This age group takes technology as an elementary thing required for survival.
In 2015, the HR Policy Foundation released a report after conducting a survey of Chief Human Resources officers at 100 large companies. Researchers found in that survey that employers considered their millennial workers a great asset to their organizations. They also found that more than two-thirds of employers report their millennial workforce is above average or exceptional. Employers reported that millennials are making great contributions to the workplace including technological skills; questioning the status quo; market knowledge; entrepreneurial spirit; and a drive to make a difference. As a result, 85% of companies have changed policies to appeal to Millennials.
Another characteristic which makes this generation stand apart, but can be viewed as both boon and bane by recruiters, is their desire to succeed. Six years ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted a survey, the results of which stand relevant still. 4,364 millennial graduates across 75 countries were asked questions drawing in their views towards work.
54% of the graduates, in the survey, said that they do not consider themselves loyal to their employers and 72% said that they made some sort of trade-off to get into work. 38% of millennials who were employed said that they were actively looking for a different role and 43% said they were open to offers. Only 18% said they expected to stay with their current employer at the time for a long term.
The survey also concluded that career progression is the top priority for millennials who expect to rise rapidly through the organisation. 52% said this was the main attraction in an employer. 44% said that they got attracted by competitive salaries.
A more recent survey done by Harvard Business Review last year, found that 47% of millennials strongly agree that they will switch jobs if the job market improves in the next 12 months, compared with 17% of engaged millennials. The report also justly describes millennials as consumers of the workplace as they shop around for the jobs that best align with their needs and life goals.
These stats clearly indicate that companies approach towards recruitment and retention have to be moulded in a way that millennials feel that their work is being valued and there is a perpetual opportunity to move up the ladder through good work. Companies such as Google and Apple have a hiring policy which targets the attitude, culture and management style of millennials. This is the reason why they are able to pick the best talents from the young lot around.
So, how exactly is a millenial-friendly HR policy devised?
To answer this, employers must understand that millennials’ careers are one of their choice and not one chosen out of desperation. It aligns who they are with what they do. IT or non-IT, here’s what they all should know:
Understand this generation
One of the worst mistakes employers can make in workplaces is to overlook the driving force in the millennials. This generation does not remain constricted with ‘how things used to be done’. Millennials are fond of overachieving their goals and want to move quickly upwards through an organization. Employers need to understand how these desires might be different from older workers. Generational differences and tensions need to be addressed on a real time basis to keep them engaged and make them feel valued.
Having a culture where older and more experienced professionals routinely help nurture Millennials in their careers is a great way to attract and retain this generation. According to the 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 71% of those considering leaving their jobs were doing so because they wanted better opportunities to develop their leadership skills. So pairing them with someone in a role they might someday want to fill, is particularly attractive and may well encourage greater longevity of people from this generation with the organization.
Feedback, feedback and more feedback
Millennials want and value frequent feedback. Unlike the Baby Boomer lot, where people received annual reviews, millennials want to know how they’re doing much more regularly. At Google, aside from perks like free lunch and an onsite hair salon, the company also has a “gThanks” platform that allows employees to recognize their colleagues’ outstanding performances. The initiative has been such a success that one department created a ‘Wall of Happy’ for employees to share glowing thank-you notes and praise emails.
Millennials grew up with technology, which has created a culture of transparency. In a time when one tweet can take down an entire brand, millennials expect the company they work for to be upfront with them. In this digital age, it’s hard enough for companies to hide things from the consumer, let alone their own employees. Rob Goffee, author and London Business School Professor of Organizational Behavior, and Gareth Jones, Author of ‘Why Should Anyone Work Here’, spent three years investigating what the ideal workplace would look like by surveying hundreds of executives. They found that authenticity and a workplace where important information is not suppressed were two of the most important organizational pillars for the ideal workplace.
So, to sum it up, employers need to realize that work can be liberating, or it can be alienating, exploitative, controlling, and homogenizing. Millennials are a talented and dynamic generation, and the best of them are hard to find and even more difficult to keep. The finest of them are already in high demand and employers that meet their expectations will be able to take their pick of this generation’s talent. Millennial or not, all employees ultimately want the same thing — fair compensation, flexibility and a mission statement they feel strongly about.