Is The Millennial Generation A Problem Or An Opportunity?

Millennials - disloyal and difficult to manage?

The Millennial Generation get a bad press.

According to recruiters and employers Millennials are a nightmare to manage and show no loyalty.

A Samsung survey suggests that members of the Millennial Generation expect to have 10 or more jobs during their careers.

Is there any truth in this stereotype?

A hiring survey conducted by Prism Executive Recruitment which focussed in particular on small and medium sized management consultancy firms identified the hiring and retention of Millennials as ‘very challenging’ or a ‘critical concern’.

Millennials, or Generation Y, are defined as those between the ages 18 to 34 will account for 75% of the workforce by 2025 but rather than being motivated exclusively by money, according to Deloitte, Millennials want to work at organizations that focus on purpose, not just profit.

What do the surveys say about Millennials ?

They have high expectations

Millennials were raised on high expectations and thus have grown into adults who have high expectations of themselves and others, both in work and in life. The Millennial considers opportunities for career progression to be the most attractive employer trait. Female Millennials in particular seek out employers with a strong record on equality and diversity.

Work Life Balance and happiness is essential

Millennials are unconvinced that the excessive work demands older workers have taken for granted are worth the sacrifices to their personal life. Consequently, they expect organisations to recognise work-life balance and flexibility across the talent pool.

Global experience (both in work and play)

Demand for international mobility is high. According to PwC’s Millennials Survey, 66% of this cohort believe international experience is crucial for furthering their careers.

Furthermore, global exploration is seen as a rite of passage. One mid-sized consultancy firm commented that “They have the travel bug – the firm doesn’t even bother to try to hire this age range now. They have no work ethic.” Whilst the work ethic comment may be harsh, in an effort to address this problem some firms now offer sabbaticals.

Social Impact is important

Millennials aim to find a job that makes them happy and fulfils a desire to have a positive social impact. Where other generations may have considered their careers at odds with their idealistic ambitions, Millennials truly believe they can shape the world in which they live, through their work.

PwC’s Millennials survey found the majority (58%) seek employers whose corporate responsibility behaviour matches their own ethical standards.

Why does this matter ?

Baby Boomers (currently aged 52 plus) are retiring and will continue to retire in record numbers. As they exit the workforce, there are not enough Generation X workers (born early 60s to mid 70s) to take their place. Consequently Millennials will be required to fill both new positions and the vacancies created by the mass exodus of those retiring Boomers. They will therefore frequently find themselves in management, executive and other leadership roles sooner in their careers than prior generations.

Not all firms will be recruiting from this age range now, but will be recruiting experienced ‘senior’ Millennials for Manager and Principal level positions in future and there is no evidence that their motivations and characteristics will change as they age. Employers need to adapt and critically review the way in which they accommodate their employees’ expectations of career development, monetary reward and work life balance.

How to keep the Millennials happy

To recruit and retain this group, firms need to understand and meet their needs:

1.Set clear targets and focus feedback on future development

Millennials want and value frequent feedback. Give them honest feedback in real time — and highlight positive contributions.
Let them advance faster. Historically, career advancement was built upon seniority and time of service. But Millennials value results and want career advancement much quicker than older generations are accustomed to. So for the high achievers who do show the potential to rise up the ranks quickly, do not hinder them.

2. Prioritise training

If your organisation is more focused on developing high potentials, or more senior people, then you could risk losing future talent if you fail to engage Millennials with development opportunities. Build and measure the effectiveness of mentoring programmes alongside other learning and education. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking they are not worth training because they will soon be moving on.

3. Think creatively about reward strategies and what motivates millennials

For example, a shift in focus from cash bonuses to other benefits with the opportunity for an employee to customise.

4. Close the gap between perception and reality

In particular the promises made by employers on diversity and work/life balance.

5. Accept the importance of social impact, brand and reputation

Some companies and sectors may need to become more transparent and adjust their working practices to make a more positive contribution.

6. Expect staff turnover to increase

It is inevitable that the rate of attrition among millennials will be higher than among other generations. This is especially true because many have made compromises in finding their first job. Build this turnover into your plans and use it to your advantage. You have a potential opportunity to recruit a workforce with greater diversity of experience which should be seen as a positive outcome.