Blog: Missing the bigger purpose — A key to motivate and retain millennials

Strategic HR

Missing the bigger purpose — A key to motivate and retain millennials

Millennials look for fulfillment and a large purpose that will make a difference to the world. They don't follow hierarchies and detest organizational processes that they believe slows them down. Co-working is their way of life where they get to work with like-minded individuals.
Missing the bigger purpose — A key to motivate and retain millennials

I recently attended a workshop to understand the frustrations and aspiration of the early talents. The participants of the meeting were employees who had been with their companies for a period of 0-2 years, the quintessential “Millennials of any organization. They displayed remarkable clarity in thoughts and were candid in their feedback. “Too many processes slow down the progress of our work”, “get bored after two years of work” etc. topped the list of frustrations, while “chance to work with the latest technologies”, “guidance and opportunities for continuous learning” figured as aspirations amongst the participants. 

What makes them different?Every generation is shaped by the series of events that occur as they grow. Their formative years mold them into adults they ultimately become.  Millennials, unlike any of the previous generations, have grown up in an almost always connected environment, spending most of their time on the internet. This is a generation that is optimistic and continuously seeks new experiences. For them, a job is not just a job – it’s a way of life. They look for fulfillment and a larger purpose that will make a difference to the world. They don't follow hierarchies and detest organizational processes that they believe slows them down. Co-working is their way of life where they get to work with like-minded individuals. Knowledge sharing and appreciation are deeply valued. A good work-life balance that helps them contribute not only to their work but also pursues their passions or hobbies is what they seek. If being social and networking are their inherent traits, digital is their way of life; a generation which lives by the maxim “stay connected”.

Motivating Factors

Below are a few factors that motivate the millennials:

1. Good work-life balance

2. Being connected

3. Continuous Learning

4. Constant appreciation

5. Co-working environments

6. Contribute to society

7. Jobs which make a connect with their passions

8. Organizations with a purpose

While factors 1-6 are already being implemented in most organizations through policies, CSR initiatives and good working environments point 7 and 8 can be difficult to achieve. 

In my view, millennials need to understand the philosophy of an organization and the larger purpose it endeavors to serve. It is essential for them to understand this journey if they intend to stay in the organization anchor for a longer period. They look for opportunities that are connected to their passions and these fascinate them. Ironically, at the time of recruitment, the organization misses these two vital aspects which are so intrinsically intertwined with the aspirations of the millennials. Most organizations boast of a great working environment, exciting events and benefits like hackathons etc. but still cannot keep the millennials engaged and that’s because, unless the bigger picture is shown to the millennials, it becomes difficult to retain them. This is an issue that needs to be addressed in the initial stages of hiring.  Organizations need to go that extra mile and lay bare the purpose of the organization, its contribution in the larger picture and the role that the millennials will play if they decide to join the organization. Job profiles need to be well defined so that the applicant knows what she/he is getting into if they accept the offer. The pre and post onboarding activities need to provide complete information that will help millennials make better judgments.

The interviewers need to be skilled enough to determine if the goals of the company and the aspirations of the millennials are on the same ground. Their interests need to be probed to ensure they would make a good fit once they are hired. While the company gets to know more about the individual, the information shared with the applicant will help the applicant make an informed decision.

Organizations with a Purpose

A key pointer from Deloitte’s Millennial Survey in 2016 is “Purpose Matters”. This is the main deciding factor for employees who leave in less than 2 years or stay greater than 5 years. As per the survey, 56% of the millennials said that their organization’s purpose was part of the reason they chose to work there. This is primarily because the millennial generation strongly believes that businesses have a positive impact on the society and they would like to be a positive contributor in this journey. As per Deloitte’s survey, 73% of Millennials believe business has a positive impact on wider society. The survey also indicates how millennials view today’s organizations. A whopping 64% believe that organizations focus on their own agenda vis-à-vis the wider society. 

While several surveys indicate “purpose” as a key retaining factor for millennials, there is very little to indicate that organizations are doing their bit to address this issue. An organization can have a very strong vision and mission in place, a powerful strategy built around it and several events and roll-out sessions to communicate this. But, if the employee fails to see this in action, then, it is a lost cause. 

The fact that 64% of the group surveyed believes that their organizations are centered on their own agenda is an indicator of this miscommunication. There are more such interesting insights from the survey.

In conclusion

A lot has already been said and written about engaging and retaining millennials. Almost every discussion indicates that retaining millennials can be tough and challenging. Looking at the current situation, it is not baffling to see how quickly millennials get disconnected with their organizations, how they flit from one company to another in search of a right fit or start one on their own. For large organizations comprising of several business units; and a plethora of processes to be adhered to at various levels, the situation is not very encouraging. However, there is still hope that all is not lost. Including the millennials in the decision-making process, allowing them to influence decisions and respecting those decisions might eventually benefit both sides of the equation. Their aspiration of having a positive impact on the business and the world they live might eventually happen.


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Topics: Strategic HR, Life @ Work

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