Over the past few years, workplaces are constantly seeing a new generation of workforce joining the offices. Each time this happens, the workplace has to reshape itself and adjust its practices to ensure sync between both the sides.
As more and more of them (the millennial workforce) enter the industry, at ages younger than ever, at positions that were usually given only to stalwarts, a lot of experienced employees look at them with scepticism. But the millennials do matter. Why?
Millennials probably have the most complicated tale to tell as compared to their predecessors. The global economy is fragile and often teetering on the edge of recession. The job market has become competitive, resulting in even highly-qualified individuals working in under-qualified roles. But this new wave of employees has much to offer. By 2030, they might account for 75% of the workforce.
Because of the role of technology in this fast-paced era, the younger generation has taken on the part of advisor to the older generation. This is a reason for the shift in perspective with regard to authority, hierarchy and respect. Millennials, it has been seen, don’t perceive hierarchy or ‘authority’ in the same manner as other generations. This generation doesn’t require the benefits hierarchy has to offer and comes with clear priorities and timelines.
According to a study on millennial preparedness for the workplace—published by Bentley University early this year—70% of those who fall in the older generation group think that millennials are reluctant to ‘pay their dues’. Interestingly, 9 out of 10 millennials think they come with a strong work ethic, which conflicts with the older school of thought. The new school of thought propagated by millennials commands respect for knowledge and righteousness, irrespective of the hierarchical ‘level’.
Millennials also possess much positive energy, intelligence and immense capacity to learn. They are typically more tech-savvy than their older counterparts, and can be a valuable addition to almost any work environment.
So, how can organisations effectively engage millennials?
* Millennials generally are particular about having a healthy work-life balance—a work culture that matches their style of working—and appear to rely heavily on career structure and clarity at the workplace.
* Most millennials appreciate mobility and flexibility. Allowing employees to enjoy the freedom of working from home or on-the-go is a major plus-point.
* Millennials, it has been seen, are passionate about contributing towards society and the environment. Firms that have genuine CSR programmes build a sense of loyalty and appreciation in their millenial employees.
* Work can be interrupted by play and play can be interrupted by work. These don’t appear to be separate entities for millennials and a fine balance is necessary for employee engagement.
* Even the rules of employee engagement are being redefined. Millennials may or may not appreciate a “bring your family to work day”, but they’ll be pumped to participate in a hackathon or represent their organisation in a marathon or similar events. Traditional controls such as compensation and incentives are losing value as the main motivational factors for employees to join or even stay at a firm.
* Compassion is a two-way street. If firms encourage employees to pursue their dreams, it often results in a happy employee and a happy organisation.
* Millennials seem to value freedom of thought and encouragement. Many firms have taken steps to ensure the newbies are assigned to seniors who help fast-track their learning curve.
* Casual clothing is a growing trend today in the corporate sector. It’s yet another way to make employees feel comfortable at work and focus on the more important things.
By Abhijit Nimgaonkar
The author is Office Managing Principal and India Capability & Expertise Center Head, ZS Associates