"Our job is not our life." - The voice of a millennial
There are almost seventeen million millennials (Generation Y) in the UK. They will shortly become the largest demographic group in the country according to Statista, a European statistics portal.
And this year, (2020), millennials (1981-1996) are forecast to make up 35 per cent of the global workforce. With these statistics, hiring managers and companies must sit up and take notice.
Are your managers knowledgeable about hiring and working with this cohort? Do they know what they value and how to keep them engaged?
Adjusting your attraction and engagement practices is crucial. Forty-four percent of millennials, if given a choice, expect to leave their current employer in the next two years. This is according to a 2019 Deloitte global survey.
So, finding out what is important to them in their personal and work life should be your focus. It’s critical that your hiring practices to entice them to join you, and your engagement strategies to help you retain them, is built on this knowledge.
Let’s go directly to the source and listen to a millennial.
“Our job is not our life,” said Connor. He shared his personal thoughts and the discussions he has had with his millennial friends. Here is how Connor and his friends view their world.
- We find joy outside work.
- Work is a way to have fun now and for the future.
- We don’t say: ‘I want to work for that particular company’ but rather I want that job in that field.
- We are dedicated to our job and field but not dedicated to the company.
- We don’t see a job as being with a company from start to finish.
- If we don’t like one company, we join another. We don’t necessarily care who we work for.
- There is little guidance counselling in school so choosing the right career path can be difficult. Mentors and guidance would have helped.
- One friend likes his company a lot because it is welcoming to the LGBTQ community. Because of this culture, he feels more loyal.
- Many companies don’t tend to bring staff together for fun times, so we must plan our own get togethers which are important to us.
Connor also addressed the financial side of work:
- There is a huge drive to get educated because not only is there a stigma if you don’t, but you just can’t get a decent job anymore without higher education.
- We chase education for years, take out loans and rack up debt so making money is very important to us.
- We have high monthly expenses, especially when considered as a proportion of recent graduates wages.
- We will go into marriages with debt.
- We all know we are replaceable, so we don’t want to ask for benefits and an increase in salary.
Connor and his friends may not be speaking for all millennials. However, these comments are noteworthy and something to think about with the millennials on your team and those you are trying to attract and retain.
Whether we are talking about the millennials, Gen X (1965 -1980), or baby boomers (1944 -1964), there is one key element shared by all: engagement is directly linked to productivity. And according to The McKinsey Global Institute, this can be by as much as 20-25%.
If Connor’s comments are any indication, keeping millennials engaged is a challenge. If they are motivated by their work but not particularly loyal to their company, what can you do so they don’t jump ship?
- Offer the latest technology. They are beyond being technologically savvy.
- Guide their personal development and advancement (87% of millennials say that job development is important according to a Gallup report).
- Provide mentorship. Assign a senior employee to each new millennial.
- Ask for their ideas and involve them in making their job and workday productive and fun. They want to enjoy their workplace and connect with their co-workers inside and outside the office.
The multi-generational workforce is the standard today and engagement is still the main factor that drives productivity. A ‘one size fits all’ approach no longer works. Companies need to get a handle on what is important to each group.
To strengthen the engagement experience for the GenXers, for example, managers should:
- Involve them in decisions. They are problem-solvers.
- Encourage their independence (they were used to self-managing growing up).
- Provide the feedback they crave and emphasise their accomplishments.
- Give them the responsibility to help shape your organisation.
- Understand their need for flexibility managing a household and raising children.
We also can’t forget the baby boomers. They have decades of organisational knowledge you need to capture. So, engagement may not be the challenge, but succession planning is:
- Get your house in order and start identifying what skill shortages will need to be replenished. Middle management is usually where institutional knowledge lies.
- Create recruitment and hiring strategies aimed at finding candidates with similar skills and talents.
- Make their valuable expertise available to younger, high-potential managers through corporate mentoring programs.
- Blend their ideas and viewpoints with others by creating intergenerational teams and partnerships to build overall knowledge.
The key to generations working together positively is understanding what is important to each group. What are their differences and what are their similarities? You won’t know unless you have a plan to find out. Without this knowledge, your attraction and engagement plans will fall off the rails.
It takes skilled managers to guide multi-generational teams. And that’s a good starting point.
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