MILLENNIALS are a subject matter that have gained much attention as far as hiring and firing discussions are concerned. While some are excited to welcome fresh minds into their companies, there are a significant number that remain hesitant. One of the major concerns employers have with Millennials (also called Gen Ys), is their certain lack of loyalty to a company. It is easy to understand why many companies disagree with the new sentiment.
The concern most employers have about Millennials is that they expect too much from the workplace.
MNCs (multi national companies) like the Big Four have reputations and an image to maintain. Their bureaucracy coupled with conventional company strategies and work ethics are what kept them at top for so long. So why should they change their company’s structure to suit young folk? What makes Millennials so important?
Before we address those issues, let us firstly understand who these Millennials are.
1. Instant Gratification
Millennials are those who have reached adulthood in the 21st century (born between 1982 and 2004), and were raised in the technological era where everything comes with instant gratification. Information, entertainment, news, items and food can all be searched online and purchases made and are delivered almost instantly – a heavy emphasis on the word “instant”.
They grew up in an economy that differs greatly from that of their parents and generations before that. The older generations existed in a time where the school of thought was hard work and a full commitment to their jobs so that their children can live better lives. This resulted in Millennials gaining access to a myriad of options and opportunities available today.
Youngsters grew in stable middle-class families and were told from a tender young age that they can have anything they want in life.
This seemingly innocent truth carved a way of thinking that sprouted negative labels on Millennials like: self-entitled, narcissistic, selfish, lazy, and ‘un-loyal’ just to name a few. However, we need to realise that how they turned out and were brought up is not entirely a fault of their own.
2. The World Made Them That Way
This entire generation lived their lives being exposed to the exploits of marketing efforts (every day, every hour, every minute in fact), societal expectations, and the most apparent of all, social media. With the evolution of technology, they have become almost slaves to their devices. The habit of turning to social media for every little thing in life has been ingrained in their whole generation. Conditioned and in need for that ‘instant response’, Millennials crave this daily intake of gratification in all parts of their lives.
Want to buy those new Jays? Purchase them on Amazon and you’ll get it the next day. Want to watch a movie? Just stream it online. What about a whole series? Just binge watch it on Netflix. Got a problem? No worries, Twitter is there for venting.
These temporary reliefs, the sense of gratification and satisfaction grows larger and larger with each intake as it is further enhanced with popularity in the form of ‘likes’, mentions, posts, threads, and updates. All of these can be accessed in an instant and as many times as the they want. Slowly, and almost surely, it becomes an addiction they can’t shake.
In a time where Millennials can get anything they want almost immediately, the ‘instant gratification’ they search for is absent when it comes to job satisfaction and relationship strength, which then brings us to the point below.
3. What Is Work To Them?
The popular stereotype; ‘Millennials are job hoppers so don’t bother hiring them’ is somewhat true. According to a LinkedIn research: 23% of Millennials voluntarily leave their jobs due to the lack of learning opportunities. Unlike Baby Boomers and Generation X, who strived towards improved work ethics, steady career paths, and individualistic advancement to get the jobs they desired.
Millennials in turn place a high emphasis on producing meaningful work, creative outlets, and jobs that give them opportunities to learn and advance themselves in their own areas of interest.
Now let’s add that insatiable need for change and the ‘paradox of choice’ in the equation; Millennials are impatient and wish to see results as quickly as possible. And when they don’t, they tend to jump to another job where they can see these changes happening, and will continue to jump again and again until it finally happens.
It also doesn’t help that the new digital economy birthed many young millionaire heroes worshipped by Millennials as they too aspire to be just like them. However, let’s bear in mind that this young bunch are ambitious individuals that are likely to be top performers and are the best multitaskers available that can and will bend the rules if needed to or given the chance to do so.
4. Tools Can Backfire
Like job satisfaction, the strength of a relationship takes time to build and develop. Growing up with technology in their hands, millennials have developed new forms of communication especially through social media. They express themselves better through this tool and basically have their whole lives posted online, which can be detrimental to them if they are not careful.
Social media, as most people would put it, is the ultimate creativity and self-promotion outlet; enabling anyone to publish just about anything and everything they please, coupled with the fact that there is a possibility of some fame when their content goes viral. But virality also applies to infamy.
For example: rants on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat about their colleagues or managers (although profiles are private) have the possibility of tarnishing their professional image. Not only will they be deemed unprofessional, but these rants won’t change the situation at work. And even if it does, it would probably be for the worse.
Comparatively, this is where communication methods from previous generations could work much better because face-to-face confrontation and professionalism can solve problems much easier, quicker, and in an honest manner.
There is a reason for the kind of communication approach Millennials take. One, when it’s online, there is a degree of anonymity. Two, it is a painless endeavour to type and post something online, as compared to a confrontation in real life where there are more direct repercussions (like arguments and possible physical aggression).
5. Bad Environments Make Bad People
In some ways, you could say that there are many examples of Millennials having low self-esteem despite their apparent characteristics of over-inflated self-love. And again, it is not a fault of their own. Employers have also a hand in it by providing unhealthy company environments that do not promote individual growth.
The mistake that many companies make that drive off Millennials is simply by caring more about numbers rather than their employees’ well-being, and stressing more about the short term goals than long term ones.
The lack of leadership in a strict bureaucracy, and the need to only make a profit turns Millennials away by cutting out what they hold most important at work – passion.
When Millennials are pressured to do work that is not in line with their goals, they’ll just throw in the towel and move on.
To many of us it seems to be rather ludicrous to jump from one job to another within short spans of time, but maybe it’s us that need to accept a new reality: this is the new generation that will be taking over most of the workforce within the next five years. How do we get these job-hopping youngsters to stay put in our companies? What can we do to make them happy and fulfilled enough to pour that passion into work?
Growing In Their Own Way
At the very least, companies could give their Millennial employees soft-skill training to elevate interpersonal skills and communication methods. Millennials need to unlearn that habit of instant gratification; the fact that it does not always apply for everything, especially in the workplace.
This doesn’t mean introducing the draconian law of banning social media and any use of mobile devices completely from the workplace (the internet is the Millennials’ life and soul, figuratively speaking). That will only suppress and lead them closer to the exit faster than expected.
What they need to learn is that career fulfillment and the joy of job satisfaction can come, but only by holding it together for the long run; especially on projects that can take weeks and months to complete.
Companies that want to get the best from Millennials need to realise that the age-old adage of ‘throwing them into the deep end’ and expecting them to swim across on their own, with no support system and proper direction, will not build their self-esteem, and can be counter-productive even though they are known to be eager to find shortcuts to get things done.
Millennials constantly seek guidance from their superiors, be it direct managers, team leaders or CEOs. They want to learn as much as they can and experience all that they can. Companies need to understand that by giving them ownership of their task and full trust that they will perform usually results in them reciprocating that trust and respect for the company.
Mentoring is a proven approach that reaps positive results with Millennials. By engaging with Millennials in a form that is familiar to them, companies are able to give them the room they need to shine and find success on their own.
As simplistic and menial it may seem, management must always remember to acknowledge them for their achievements.
Acknowledgments – whether be it in monetary terms, verbal or just some form of tangible/intangible benefit – will keep them happy, content and fulfilled much akin to the instant gratification they are used to. With that, they will want to stick around for much, much longer.