Unless you have been living under a rock, you would have heard of or experienced the millennial story in the workplace. With a growing number of millennials in the workforce, this topic seems to be rapidly gaining steam every day.
Yet, a disconnect between millennials and the workforce is present today as well. This stems from differences between:
1) Millennial expectations that do not fit the reality of the present-day workforce, and
2) Workplace practices that are not well-adapted to new-age millennials
In this article, DGG Resume is privileged to have Vivek Iyyani, a Millennial speaker and coach, share with us his insights and advice on this topic.
Vivek started off his career by working as a freelancer in training companies, conducting leadership workshops for various schools for 4 years. During the same time, he completed his degree in Psychology.
After his graduation, he took a plunge into entrepreneurship and focused on helping Millennials get understood at workplaces. He did so by conducting training for them and their managers on the Millennial Mindset.
To get a better understanding of this topic, we will be focusing on a few areas:
- How millennials are different from previous generations;
- How can millennials be better prepared for the workplace; and
- How employers can better engage with millennials
Sit tight and enjoy this millennial ride!
Why And How Are Millennials Different?
For a long time, we can observe that millennials today are different in the workplace. They work differently, interact differently, and are motivated differently. But where did this come from, and exactly how are they different?
Vivek explains that the key differences between millennials and that of previous generations lies within their upbringing and economic context.
“The only difference is that we millennials grew up much more empowered. It has to do with the economy we grew up in. There was no burden for Millennials to worry about an iron rice bowl or a roof over their head because their parents provided for all of that.”
Millennials enjoy this comfort in having their basic needs fulfilled. As such, they tend to have higher expectations for jobs, beyond salary itself.
This also refers to the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs: where their materialistic needs are satisfied and are seeking higher level goals.
“They want cooler experiences and to do things with a sense of purpose. When they’re unable to identify their purpose, they do get lost with the number of options and opportunities out there as well as not knowing if what they’re doing is impactful or purposeful. All of this confusion leads them into what we know as the quarter life crisis.”
Simply put, given their relative economic comfort, millennials are motivated by aspects beyond just pay today. They are looking for more.
“When times are bad, it’s easy to retain staff. But when times are good, it’s a lot more challenging to keep your top talents.
Companies need to know that Millennials are motivated differently, they have different expectations, they communicate differently, and their working styles are significantly different from the earlier generations.”
Advice For Millennials
Workforce Expectations vs Reality
For millennials, the workforce isn’t as sweet, rosy and comfortable as school was.
Vivek shares that millennials typically get a culture shock when they enter the workforce. Millennials are often used to a guided structure. But managers in the workplace might provide less guidance than expected.
“Their managers may seem as if they’re not as empowering as their teachers or professors from back in school. That’s because Millennials were so used to being guided and coddled as a student that they expect the same at the workplace.
Their expectation is:
As a Manager, you’re supposed to be part of their success and guide them towards it.”
This gap between their expectations and reality may lead to negative consequences. Many millennials may fall into the trap of becoming disillusioned and feeling disempowered. This can lead to a negative spiral that can be hard to recover from.
“They start realising that they’re not as special as they thought and start thinking that they don’t have much to contribute. A dip in self-esteem is seen that can affect work performance.”
Millennials Work Life Preparation
Since work life could be less than what many millennials expected, is it all bleak and hopeless? Definitely not!
Millennials can pick up preparation strategies to excel in the workplace as well.
Vivek encourages one key strategy to excel at work:
Interpersonal and relationship-building skills.
“Go beyond ‘Hi’ and ‘Hello’ and build a relationship that brings about trust. It is a long and meandering process, but it’s very important because your boss is someone you barely knew but has a high amount of control over the direction of your life. Your promotions in that company depend very highly upon him/her.”
When you build good relationships and trust, bosses will also allow empower you with more impactful work. This helps to improve your job satisfaction as well!
Vivek also shares 3 important skills and attributes that all millennial graduates should have:
- Be Proactive – Go the extra mile
- Be Productive – Learn to focus on the right things and get more tasked checked during the day as opposed to simply spending more time at the office
- Be Promotive – learn to build an online and offline personal brand that people can trust. “
This encompasses three main steps:
(1) Effectively completing work responsibilities,
(2) Going above and beyond responsibilities given, and finally
(3) Building a personal brand
Advice For Employers
Of course, a career is not a one-way street. Employers have an important role to play in engaging with their new millennial employees.
Employers need to foster an environment that offers millennials power to make themselves heard and gives them a real chance to contribute. Millennials tend to feel motivated when given opportunities and feeling empowered.
Vivek shares his past experience: “Many Millennials mentioned that their number 1 challenge was being heard and listened to. They also mentioned their number 1 advantage and strength is their creativity and open thinking.
When we placed both side by side, we realised that the millennials within the organisation were leaving because they felt that their strengths were not being capitalised upon. Those who stayed were disillusioned and unproductive.
Sometimes, giving Millennials a chance to voice out their opinions can do wonders in terms of motivation.”
And make no mistake, millennials are much more likely to ‘job hop’ when they feel unhappy in a job today.
As Vivek encourages, “With that in mind, they (employers) must learn what motivates the Millennials and how to engage them at the workplace better.”
Through this interview, I hope that you’ve learnt and understood a new thing or two about millennials.
There may be differences within the company. But these differences can definitely be used as complementary strengths as well.
Vivek then leaves us with a final piece of advice for all of us millennials: “Have patience.”
“It’s easy to see everyone around you moving fast in terms of their dream job and dream lifestyle but it could very well be a façade. Take time off to journal and reflect on what you are passionate about, what you are good at, what are people willing to pay you for and how you want to contribute back to the community.
Take your time with it and check in with your inner circle of trusted advisors – friends, family etc and the answers you seek will find you.”
Enjoyed this interview? You might be interested in our interview articles with other HR leaders as well!
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