“It’s not a millennial problem; It’s a leadership problem” - Unknown
For the first time ever up to four generations of employees cohabit a workplace. Which generation should your business tune in to? With an increased representation of the workforce being millennials, this article argues that if you don’t tune in to the needs of millennials, you will drop out of business.
What does your company stand for?
There is a strong shift of advocacy from shareholder-ism to stakeholder-ism. The business of business is not business anymore. Profits are only part of the equation. A company’s position on how it wants to build the business, how it wants to treat its people, how it wants to pay its vendors, how it treats its customers etc. are all becoming decision making parameters for talented candidates to consider even before applying to an organization. Sure, you will still have millennials who work for “just the money”. But, if you want to attract the best talent, you would be better placed to make note of this shift and figure if you want to have a view about the stakeholders of your business as well.
Does your company offer flexibility and growth?
Millennials get bored easily. Once they solve a problem and get good at it, they want something else. Does your company have skill development plans to help the workforce shift between functions? No longer is growth just vertical. Growth in today’s world is a process of experimentation and discovery. The millennial generation is blessed with abundant resources at their disposal to further enhance their skills and knowledge base. Their focus on learning, development, transparency and work-life balance has redefined business strategies from the ground up and compelled employers across the globe to address these needs. This pressure is being felt by companies in India too. Are your organization structures porous or opaque?
“It’s a Millennial Problem!”
Oftentimes, we hear leaders complain about how millennials have moonshot expectations, and it isn’t possible to deal with them. Truth be told, leaders need to face the fact that their workplace composition isn’t homogenous anymore and the workforce is slowly inching up it’s way to the top of Maslow’s pyramid of needs. Policies hence, can’t be a one-size-fits-all anymore; it has to be “customized” to what suits each segment of the workforce. As an example, post Covid, the baby boomers may want to come into office regularly, while the millennials may want to continue working from home (or Wayanad, if you may!). Your policies need to be flexible to accommodate both - because, frankly, every team will have a heterogeneous composition of generations.
Millennials are innately curious and bring in fresh thinking and ideas. An organization should be accepting of this infusion of new thought and approaches, giving them the freedom to question and challenge existing ways of working. When handled positively, millennials can bring in a fresh perspective to existing processes and provide solutions that are highly innovative and never tried before but yet grounded in reality.
It is imperative for companies to find the right balance between inclusion, culture and development to retain this crop of exciting young talent. The feeling of being part of something big fuels the millennial generation and gives them focus and a sense of purpose, making them truly engaged at their jobs. They should be encouraged to take ownership and drive for results and align not just themselves but also people they work with towards shared accountability. It is estimated that by 2021, 50% of the Indian workforce will comprise millennials.
So if your organisation is to thrive and succeed, it’s critical to recognize that the country is going through a generational shift in an increasingly connected world. It is futile to ask Millennials to change; it is rather important for leaders to tune in to the Millennial way of thinking. In twenty years, the Millennials will have their plate full of complaints about Gen Z! In the meantime, is your leadership adapting to Millennials or talking about the Millennial problem?