What you can learn about Millennials depends very much on who you listen to.
Millennials, the generation born between 1980 and 2000. Who are they and what do we need to understand about this new breed?
Elders have long despaired at their successors.
Socrates said, “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”
Strauss and Howe are best-known for their work on millennials in Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069 and Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation, arguing that millennials are more civic-minded than previous generations.
Pew research shows that millennials feel detached from institutions and instead identified more strongly with friendship networks. It also found that millennials were more optimistic about the future than older generations.
Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, identifies a broader ‘Generation Me’ born between 1970 and the 1990s. She acknowledges their confidence and tolerance, but also their sense of entitlement and narcissism. Studies have shown that millennials value immediacy, transparency and flexibility, and are more creative, adaptable, entrepreneurial and accepting of change.
It’s unlikely that generational change happens transformatively, it’s far more likely that changes in attitudes, beliefs and behaviours are incremental.
What you can learn about Millennials, Generation Y or Generation Me depends very much on who you listen to. Civic-minded individuals motivated by experiences, or narcissistic brats with ever-present “helicopter parents”? The me, me, me generation?
It’s unlikely that generational change happens transformatively, it’s far more likely that changes in attitudes, beliefs and behaviours are incremental. There are obvious similarities between attitudes to work among millennials and previous generations, but there are also important differences that should shape the organisations trying to attract, enthuse and engage them.
Communicate benefits of employment differently
Millennials have been found to be less motivated by remuneration than previous generations, so it may be necessary to sell employment to millennials differently.
A survey conducted by Randstad and Millennial Branding found that a third of millennials cited development opportunities as their biggest motivator for employment, while it was money for just 28 percent, compared to 42 percent of Generation Y employees. Millennials are looking for more than a chunky salary to entice them into a role.
When recruiting millennials, explain all the potential opportunities open to applicants including training, accreditation, opportunities, reward strategies, working environment benefits, flexibility and more. Remember that millennials value experiences over ownership, so financial incentives might not be as motivating as other benefits.
Millennials are impatient and don’t buy into career ascension based on seniority and length of service.
Understand personal and professional goals
Millennials have a vision of what they want to achieve in life, so employers who want to retain them should do everything possible to help them achieve their goals. Employment should be challenging, flexible and transformative.
Provide opportunities for millennials to direct their own work independently and find new ways of achieving their goals and targets.
Give regular feedback, rewards and encouragement
Millennials are impatient and don’t buy into career ascension based on seniority and length of service. They need regular feedback and to feel like they work within a meritocracy where they can achieve without having to necessarily wait their turn.
It could turn out that a relatively minor re-organisation of company structure could help these employees gain a better sense of achievement, empowerment and autonomy.
Set them free
Millennials are likely to move on sooner than older workers, so unless employers can match their promises and help millennials to achieve their goals, they need to be prepared to say goodbye. Some employers consider offering additional flexibility, sabbaticals or formal training in order to reduce the turnover of millennial employees.
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Millennials image photo credit : Optician Training