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Millennials are often associated with a new, radical style of thinking. Worlds apart from the age-old Baby Boomers who scrimp and save and only think for the long-term, they are the generation of fast movers, of restless enthusiasts who want to change the world and to do it instantly.
And, whether we like it or not, Millennials have already become the biggest presence in today’s workforce. But what can this cohort really bring to the table? How are they changing the face of business, and what can companies do to attract and retain them?
Growing up in the wake of the internet, Millennials are best known for their tech-savvy ways. They have always been around technology, so are accustomed to taking to the web rather than books to find out information, which marks a significant shift from previous generations. They are therefore used to instantaneous results, and work with a brand new pace and urgency. This, in turn, has led to more alert minds and a highly competitive edge.
Millennials are a generation of multi-taskers and are used to responding to dozens of stimuli, all at a much faster pace than their predecessors. This means greater productivity, especially in a business setting; they are comfortable juggling more than one task at once and are confident using a variety of automation tools – for example scheduling social media, navigating the internet and managing basic company Marketing. This goes in line with a recent survey by Microsoft, which revealed that 93% of Millennials believe that productivity is the key to happiness.
This demographic is well known for their social, fun-seeking mentality, and for leading a monumental shift in corporate business culture. A social working environment is high on their career-priority list. Dress down, office ping-pong and a Friday happy hour are but a few of the ways corporate big dogs are attracting the Millennial generation.
The average Millennial stays in a job for only two years. Compared to the loyalty of previous generations, they will follow their careers rather than their company. Contrary to the ‘lazy’ stereotype often ascribed to them, they will chase the opportunities that allow them to grow and develop their careers.
An Outdated Environment and a Growing Dissatisfaction
The more research that is conducted on this generation, the more it becomes apparent that a corporate, hierarchical business with set roles and restrictive hours is unattractive for Millennials. Research has shown that most Millennials feel disengaged and disconnected to their work environment, either due to a lack of recognition, of personal growth, or of relationships with colleagues. In numbers, only 13% of workers feel passionate about their jobs and 68% of employees do not feel engaged at work, a Deloitte study found.
What is most apparent then, is the need for companies to adapt to engage with this new wave of workers. Research shows that organisations with highly engaged employees can achieve twice the annual net income of organisations without. Millennials themselves are more focussed, socially engaged and more productive. Businesses who aren’t adapting are missing out on the ideas and impact of this whole generation. Which begs the question, what specifically does a Millennial look for in a career?
A Want For Impact and CSR
As put by Leigh Buchanon in Meet the Millennials, “they are primed to do well by doing good. Almost 70% say that giving back and being civically engaged are their highest priorities.” Millennials generally need a reason for their jobs, a why behind the what. In fact, according to a 2015 research report from Robert Half Inc, 30% of Gen Z are willing to take a 10-20% pay cut if it means they are able to work towards a mission they care about. They work for a sense of purpose, whether this be business-centric (improving sales, boosting company revenue or leading business growth) or charitable.
CSR - Corporate Social Responsibility - is a rapidly growing business area, and something 87% of Millennials and 94% of Gen Z believe need addressing by employers according to a 2017 survey. Millennials will be more inclined to join corporations with good CSR and more importantly will be happier to serve a higher purpose. This increases their motivation, their productivity, and the overall company’s success.
There are plenty of ways to improve your business’s CSR activity, many of which do not require a huge amount of effort. Charities are always looking to engage with local businesses and have pre-organised fundraising events that staff members can volunteer in. Other changes can be as minor as choosing more environmentally-friendly suppliers for company paper or stationary supplies, or adding a recycle bin. Small changes like this – especially those which are marketed effectively – will appeal to Millennials, and could be the crucial difference between them choosing your company over another.
A Better Work-Life Balance
As mentioned before, a better work-life balance is a high priority for many Millennials. The traditional 9-5 model that most corporations have abided by for decades is transforming. More and more companies are allowing for flexible hours and for employees to work from home, which allows them to fit their work schedule around their family life.
A More Relaxed, Less Corporate Environment
An appealing work place for a Millennial is a social one, and one which openly encourages team work and more collaboration with colleagues. By working as a unit, productivity will increase as colleagues can bounce off one another and encourage each other in their tasks. Work tasks can also be delegated most effectively, saving valuable time.
By increasing team collaboration an office will automatically become more connected, and by proxy more social and enjoyable for those in it. Millennials enjoy socialising and interacting, and work spaces have become less individual-office-based and more open-plan-office; a social culture is a major selling point of younger companies. More and more businesses are organising activities and making internal changes to promote ‘team bonding’ and reaping the benefits.
Development And Progression
In keeping with their competitive nature and their want for quick results, Millennials are well known for their impatience when it comes to career progression. With so much information at their fingertips, they’re on track to be the most educated generation to date, a by-product of which is little time for roles with no progression opportunities or development programmes.
This means, for employee retention, visible career ladders and consistently changing targets are key, to make sure employees feel that they are constantly developing and progressing in their role. By offering on-the-job training or funding external qualifications, especially to graduates or employees still early in their careers, you are far more appealing to job-seekers. Investment in employee’s personal growth will also directly improve your business as that is where they put their training into practice.
Overall there has been a palpable shift in business: in culture, employee offerings and corporate values. Whether or not that is directly attributed to Millennials we can’t assume, but what is certain is that to attract younger talent and to compete with other businesses, changes need to be adopted to create a more relaxed and rewarding place of work.
Whilst more traditional, long-standing corporations are still getting used to the idea of a ‘Millennial-friendly’ work environment, countless others are making the transition to accommodate the lifestyle and needs of this generation.
With increased productivity and pace, fresh, innovative ideas and profit-driving spirit, the question it seems is not so much are Millennials ready for the business world, but rather, is the business world ready for Millennials?