The Millennials Myth

July 14, 201411:43 am
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There has been plenty written about Millennials in recent years- generally about the way they behave. Employers who look at Millennials as a problematic generation love to call this group disinterested, tuned out and selfish. They think this generation has too much entitlement, not enough loyalty, no work ethic, and are only interested in themselves.

And yet, Millennials are the hottest commodity on the job market.

Born between 1980 and 2000, they are a generation of 2.5 billiom (nearly as large as the Baby Boomers) and they are charged with potential. They are sociable, optimistic, open-minded and achievement oriented. More importantly, they’ve always felt sought after, needed, indispensable. They are arriving in the workplace with higher expectations than any generation before them—and they’re so well connected that, if an employer doesn’t match their expectations, they can tell thousands of their cohorts with one click of the mouse, exactly what they think about their bosses.

In this uncertain economy and highly competitive business environment, companies around the world are beginning to recognize that the differentiator is their people. Those organizations that emerge as winners in the battle for talent will be those who have their fingers on the pulse of this newest generation. They’ll design specific techniques for recruiting, managing, motivating, and retaining them.

To better understand who your Millennial employees are and what drives them to succeed, perhaps it’s easiest to understand who they are not. They are not you. They may be your offspring but in the workplace they bear little resemblance to the “you” of yesteryear- you from the Baby Boomer Generation or Generation X. The 2.5 billion Millennials around the world are changing the workplace. And because they’re driving change, they are often subject to deep suspicion and mistrust.

Yet companies trying to drive innovation throughout their organizations will be foolish not to hire more members of the millennial generation. According to Deloitte’s third annual Millennial Survey, nearly 60 percent of millennials reject the idea that innovation is spontaneous and random. Instead, they believe innovation can be learned and fostered through formal, repeatable processes. The study went on to conclude that many millennials (also known as Generation Y) share a sophisticated understanding of innovation.

Fulfilling this potential will require businesses to do a better job of encouraging new thinking within their own organizations to develop innovative products and services, while also working collaboratively with governments, with nonprofit organizations, and with other companies to develop creative solutions.

The stakes are very high. Businesses that can meet these higher expectations have the prospect of developing highly innovative and commercially viable products and services, while attracting and retaining the most talented members of this emerging generation. And for this to happen, organizations need to be more open and integrated in their dealings with this generation, which does not respond well to corporate speak and bureaucracy. They need to be more conscious of their employer branding and outreach activities. They need to be more broad-minded towards flexible working arrangements, be more interactive, and participate in real-time communication.

It must be noted however, that millennials’ are reluctant to spend their careers in the corporate world- a reluctance which stems from a general mistrust of businesses. This is due to this generation coming of age during a period of tremendous change and scandal within many modern organizations. Globally, according to the Deloitte Millennial survey, more than half of the millennial population feel businesses could do more to address economic and social issues like unemployment, income inequality, and climate change- either by developing new products and services or adopting different practices. And these are values and beliefs which are important to this generation as a whole.

The key is to understand that while Millennials value the role of businesses in creating jobs and expanding prosperity, they have larger ambitions for business. Millennials see a large gap between the potential of business to address the challenges facing society and the actual impact it is having. Millennials want to leave their mark on the world. They want to innovate, and expand their skills. And more than previous generations, they are ready to work independently if their needs are not being met by a traditional organizations.

As they advance in their careers, hastened by the retirement of  Baby-Boomer generation, Millennials are rapidly assuming positions of greater responsibility and proving their mettle as business leaders in their own right. Organizations that embrace this generation will gain a new generation of skilled professionals—provided they can meet the Millennials’ high expectations.

So what is your organization doing to engage the Millennial generation? I would love to hear from you. Drop me a line at divya@hrinasia.com