The fact that I was born in 1986 makes me a member of the Millennial Generation.
Yep, the same generation that has been labeled lazy, impatient and narcissistic.
I disagree with these labels, but whether or not you agree, one thing is for sure: everywhere I go, whether it be an HR weekly meeting, an MBA program, or an HR conference, there is always controversy around the topic of Millennials in the workplace. It seems that business leaders are struggling in hiring, managing and retaining Millennials.
So, hi! I’m Ella, I work in HR, and, yes, I’m an eighties baby. I’d like to share with you my thoughts regarding my generation. I will not pretend to say that I am the voice of an entire generation, however as a Millennial HR who works with a whole HR team that belongs to the prior generation, I can certainly point out on some generational differences in perceptions of the workplace. I will even call it an HR revolution.
Of course, there’s always friction when one generation (in this case, the Millennials) starts to overtake the prior generation (in this case, Gen X). But the truth is that Millennials are everywhere, and yet nobody seems to fully understand us. By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce! Employers and HR teams should be prepared.
While it’s tough to assign broad characteristics to an entire generation, here are three important factors that I think employers should consider in order to retain Millennials’ talents.
1.Be a Mentor, Not a Manager
I’d rather work with my bosses than work for them. I don’t need a micro-manager telling me what to do and how, and forcing me into little boxes that do not feel meaningful. Instead, I want a mentor, who will empower me, share ideas with me, allow me to think independently, trust in me to solve problems, and constantly provide feedback in real time, rather than in an annual performance evaluation, to which I arrive nervous and receive an overload of information all at once.
2.Find the Balance
In the eighties, Dolly Parton sang, “Working nine to five, what a way to make livin’”.
Well, that may have been the approach in the eighties, but I think it’s not relevant for today. We live only once, so why should I waste my time on a meaningless job? I view my job and my life as one entity. I don’t want to be rewarded for the amount of time I spend in the office. Instead, my work is part of the passion that makes up my life, and the quality that I deliver to the business is what matters. I call it “work-life integration”. I need the two not to be in conflict. I think that businesses that support a lifestyle of freedom and flexibility will win.
3.Fast-Paced Environments, Please!
As a Millennial, I grew up in a rapidly changing digital landscape. Therefore, I understand that everyone, including myself, must accelerate their learning to remain competitive and not stay behind. Let me compare a workplace to a Netflix subscription. Netflix demonstrates some great ideas when it comes to retaining consumers in the modern world.
First, friendly and easy. From first contact with Netflix, all options are visible and clear. Businesses should do the same. Whether it is a clear vision, soft onboarding, or a great employee experience, they should keep everything clear, friendly and transparent.
Second, no commitment. It is as easy to cancel Netflix as it is to sign up. Yes, our generation doesn’t like to commit. Rather, we like to stay where it feels good. As long as Netflix gives excellent content, people will stay because they want to stay. Businesses should have the same mindset. Unlike our parents, we’re not looking for jobs for the next twenty years. Instead of commitment, employers should think about engagement. How to engage our employees while they’re here and make the best from the relationship.
Third, binging. Netflix lets each consumer decide what is the right pace for them. If I want to binge the entire series in one weekend, Netflix would allow me, and even encourage me, to do so. Businesses should give their employees the opportunity to grow and develop quickly, not stop them.
I am genuinely excited to work in HR in such a challenging time, in which businesses must adapt to a new generation that is nothing like the previous one, and must manage Three Generations in One Workforce. I think that Millennials bring with them ambition and a drive to make an impact, at the same time as appreciating Gen X and being eager to learn from it in order to do well and improve. If businesses and HR teams, rather than forcing old management practices, would adjust themselves to the wind of change that Millennials bring, great things can happen.