One of my favourite HR Blogs, ‘change-effect’ recently considered the impact of politics upon the education system and it made me think about how this transcends to the world of work.
Millennials, or Generation Y, are becoming increasingly dominant in the workforce. Currently aged 20-35, they will make up half of the global workforce by 2050. They are also unique. They have come of age at a time of political and economic instability, severe financial hardship and the constant threat of ‘terror’. At the same time however, they are the pioneers and front runners of technological change, and have never been so well ‘connected’.
According to a report by The Guardian, Millennials have incorrectly been labelled as “a bunch of lazy job-hoppers who expect everything on a plate”, but what does, and will, this mean for employers?
According to a survey by Deloitte, two out of three Millennials want to move from their current job by 2020. They have more work experience, and are the most educated workforce, which makes them incredibly mobile. This presents a great opportunity to employers looking to entice quality recruits. At the same time, however, employers may want to reconsider recruitment campaigns specifically to take account of prospective Millennial employees. Millennials are tech-savvy and so campaigns via social media will catch their attention. They are also looking for quality opportunities, not mediocre careers, which allow for self-development and challenge.
Working day to day
Millennials were born in the digital age and because of this, technology has allowed them to multi-task and to maximise their efficiency; it gives them an inherit flexibility which other generations may find hard to comprehend. They have a strong work ethic, but not necessarily in a strict 9 to 5 pattern.
Flexibility is key to Millenials and employers who are amenable will do well in attracting the Millennial cohort, not just in terms of the traditional ‘part-time’ working, but true flexibility in hours of work, place of work etc. True pioneers in the employment arena include for example Virgin, who set no maximum holiday entitlement to employees; the only requirement is that the job/task is delivered on time.
Millennials have a strong work ethic and are said to be more anxious to rise quickly to senior positions, yet they do not necessarily conform to the stereo-type ‘boss/employee’ relationship. They are often referred to as ‘Generation Why’ due to their tendency to question what they do not know. This can (wrongly) be taken as a challenge to authority. They are also characterised as ‘needy’ due to their need for constant positive feedback.
Performance management has historically been seen as something for poor performing employees but that landscape will change. Millennials require constant career development and feedback throughout their employment.
Millennials present a new challenge to employers, throughout the lifecycle of the employment relationship. Failure to manage this cohort will lead to lost opportunity and skills, and at the same time present potential problems in terms of staff retention, frustrated employment relationships, and potential litigation Employers would do well to consider now how to engage and harness the Millennial cohort (and of course update any policies and procedures as appropriate!)