Category: Workforce

The Millennial – An Asset or Liability?

The Millennial - Asset or Liability?

“Ninety one percent of Millennial expect to stay in a job for less than three years.” This startling finding is contained in a workforce survey by Future Workplace[1]. This means that recent and new entrants to the global workforce will have multiple jobs during their working lifetime, and bearing in mind the ever increasing rate of change and probably multiple careers too.

There are reasons for this high turnover – a desire to explore options, a desire to not get bogged down in a boring job, faster career advancement – Millennials have a short attention span and are not interested in the same old rote day after day, or promotion on seniority – they want to get places, and get there fast.

One thing is for certain, that this churn of employees presents a nightmare scenario for HR functions in recruitment, cost to company, and the training areas.

In the past, HR managers liked to see a nice steady job progression in CVs, demonstrating stability and a purpose, and ‘job-hoppers’ were jettisoned to the rejection list. But now, when many people in their late twenties have had as many as twelve jobs since they left college[2], every CV has a slew of jobs, and HR now have to pick through each one and see if there is a purpose to the job changes and if the change is made with a plan in mind or with reckless abandon that indicates that they won’t stay long with you either.

To get a handle on what churn costs, there is an example[3] worked out that for a company with 1,000 employees, the average salary is $50,000, and the staff turnover is 10 per cent per year. The annual cost to that company is $7.5 million. So if a company could hold on to its employees and if the turnover rate could be halved to 5 per cent – the company would add $3.75 million to its bottom line.

How does a company hold on to these Millennials?

It would be an impossible task without first understanding the key characteristics of these young people in our workforce:

  • Confident – they have always been treated as special, and have always achieved
  • Achievers – pushed for results in school and college. Points and grades are higher for this group than ever before, and they have still managed to achieve what’s set for them
  • Team Oriented – involved in group and social learning
  • Bored Easily – used to instant gratification
  • Self Belief – have done well at every stage from kindergarten to college
  • Want a good work/life balance

It’s clear from the above key characteristics that in order to be retained, they have to be handled differently to how their Baby Boomer co-workers were handled at that point in their careers.

  • They need to be continually challenged, and also frequently assessed as they like to know how they are doing
  • They like to collaborate, and are very productive when they are interested and engaged
  • They have a belief that nothing is too difficult for them to achieve
  • They like to feel they are part of something bigger than just their job or department, and benefit from being kept abreast with everything that is happening in the company
  • You won’t see them working a 12 hour day
  • They see learning as a way to gain knowledge and experience and a pathway to advancement

So to get the best from and to retain this new breed of employee, a new strategy has to be put in place:

  • Career advancement prospects within the company have to be mapped out. There is no point in telling a Millennial, “In time you will rise through the ranks.” They want to hear,“If you are good enough, you are old enough.”
  • A commitment to continuous training and up-skilling has to be guaranteed – not just training for the job in hand, but any training the Millennial would like to undergo. He sees learning very clearly as a means of gaining experience, and that gives him the ability to move up the ladder quickly.
  • An offer to try various departments to see which suits him best would be a big carrot to someone who has not quite found a niche yet.
  • Work/life balance is important to Millennials.[5] They highly prize flexible working hours, working from home, longer holidays and maternity/paternity leave.
  • Integration with older, more settled employees can become an issue and one strategy to deal with this would be to take on a group specifically to handle one area or project in the company.
  • Regular (monthly) assessments where the Millennial and his immediate superior talk about how things are going is what’s required – yearly assessments is not what he needs.

With the median age of the Indian population at 25, the country has a booming Millennial-rich workforce that attracts Indian as well as global corporations. Smart companies are looking at ways to attract Millenials and retain them. Here’s what some Indian organizations and multinationals working out of India are doing for their employees to retain this young group of people:

  • Organizations provide their employees with a platform to share their expertise while at the same time giving them enough opportunity to hone their skills and master new ones
  • Organizations in India are making an effort to understand the expectations and preference of its employees and finding a way to balance these expectations against the overall business plan so that it’s a win-win situation for both the employees as well as the organization
  • Young companies that have a workforce consisting mainly of the Millennials are involving their employees in the decision-making processes
  • Indian companies are now encouraging innovation and the freedom to come up with out-of-the-box ideas
  • Many organizations today create an informal and spontaneous work culture that does not restrict their employees in as many ways as possible. This includes flexible timings, open working spaces at the office, the freedom to pursue recreational interests during work hours,
  • Indian organizations are also beginning to understand that their employee performance and productivity increases when they are give a sense of independence and ownership for each task assigned to them
  • Many organizations now provide their employees with a comprehensive and attractive package that promises a work-life balance, flexibility and monetary benefits

These are just some of the measures modern-thinking organizations in India are doing to attract and retain Millenials. These companies are forward-thinking ones that look into the future and understand today the crucial role that Millennials will play in their respective organizations, tomorrow.

In 2015, Millennials outnumbered Baby Boomers in the US workforce for the first time[4]. They may beviewed by many employers as “lazy, entitled, narcissists”[6], or the ‘I-me-my generation’; but they are here to stay; and motivated and handled in the right manner, they will be as productive, efficient and valuable as any of the earlier generations. It’s high time we all sat up and gave this very important generation their due. After all, very soon, this is the generation that will be leading us into the future.

©SHRM India. First appeared on Published with permission from SHRM India. All rights reserved.

“Ninety one percent of Millennial expect to stay in a job for less than three years.” This startling finding is containe...

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