“So who are these millennial's really?” Rohan, one of my team members questioned me a couple of days back while we were sipping coffee in the cafeteria.
“You are a live example!” I responded instantly with a smirk on my face.
“Really? So what do think I do differently”
“Well, lots of things. You think differently and creatively to start with.”
“But my parents and other older people at home refer to me as a lazy person who does not want to work hard”
“Am sure and that’s why you try to work smarter rather than harder. One of the biggest traits of your generation is that you prefer to spend least possible time in manual work. You just want to automate everything so that you can concentrate on more challenging stuff. What you don’t realize is that indirectly you are working towards bringing efficiency at work.” Rohan had a crafty smile on his face and left for the day.
Post this quick conversation with him, I dove into an ocean of thoughts where I smiled at the times ahead thinking how much fun it is to work with these ‘Gen Me’ folks.
Some of the key characteristics that these ‘New Boomers’ carry with them are:
- Digital Natives: Millennial's are native speakers of the language called technology. They are born with embedded technologies in their DNA. They are the ones who have grown up using broadband, smartphones, tablets and the internet. A close friend of mine teaches his 2 year old children the alphabet of technology, where A stands for Android, B for Blogging, H for Hashtag, J for Jpeg, P for Podcast, R for Router, T for Tablet, U for Username and so on. We cracked a joke around it, but within each of us, we know what the world is heading to.
- Social Responsibilities: Millennial's feel it is an obligation to be part of the social world. “You don’t have an account on SnapChat? Really?” “Gosh, I haven’t heard of it! Let me download it right away!” (He downloads it immediately not worrying about the data used or what the app is all about. If it is social media, he must be part of it. Can’t be left behind!). These ‘Gen Me’ folks are so well connected that it kinda surprises me at times and shocks me at other times. These folks have an emotional connection with social media and feel that the world should know where they are present and what are they doing. For most of them, if a lost smartphone is not immediately replaced, they get very anxious.
- Workplace attributes: Millennial's tend to be very uncomfortable with hierarchical corporate structures (Sir’s and mam’s) and get turned off by information silos. Their emphasis on work-life balance is very strong, hence, they prefer flexible styles of working. They have great creative minds and can easily get disengaged if their brains are not challenged. They want to have discussions with their senior colleagues on career advancement with a hunger for immediate constructive feedback. With the advent of social media, there has been an augmentation in their collaborative skills. These folks know when to be team players and when to focus on their individual interests. I have also observed that most millennial's would even take a pay-cut to pursue a career path which is aligned with their passions. Young people think with and through new technologies. They feel that every solution should be simple and must be available at the click of a button. According to a survey by PWC (2011), this generation is committed to their learning and development and this remains their first-choice benefit from employers. In second place, they want flexible working hours and cash bonuses surprisingly come in third place. The same survey also states that 38% millennial's feel that the older senior management does not relate to younger workers. One of my ex-colleagues from HCL Technologies stated that “I want to feel valued and be given tasks that allow me to stretch myself to the full extent of my abilities, and by doing so, develop my skills.”
Millennial's are a talented and dynamic lot and hence, there is very high churn in this cadre. It is a huge challenge to retain them. Organizations need to start thinking through investing in learning and development, work-life balance and work diversity.
Are you helping your millennial's re-shape the workplace?