It’s impossible to avoid hearing how millennials are changing society. But how are they changing the workplace? McKinsey predicts that, by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be made up of millennials. So we’d better get it right. Tamsin Kendrick, consulting director at the Observer Effect (and a card-carrying millennial), gives her views.
Is it true that millennials are actually hard to manage?
I definitely hear the rumours: that millennials are narcissistic, that they expect to be promoted faster, paid more, treated better and are unwilling to do the “grunt work”. But, let’s remember they do have it tough. Since 2008, prices have gone up faster than wages – they are working harder than their parents and for less. They know they need to get what they can – and now. Because who knows where they might be in a few years? Managers need to show them the value of the skills they’re learning, not just in their current job, but for their whole career. If a millennial asks for a promotion after two months, the proper response is not to shake them but to ask them where they want to be in two years, and plan their pathway together.
How could you simply improve most workplace cultures?
Installing a table football or offering kale smoothies isn’t the right approach. Most millennials just want to live and work in a way that suits them. That means they want to work when and how they choose and technology allows for that. What some describe as entitlement is really just a result of empowerment. Why can’t you go to yoga a bit early, if you can work on your phone or laptop afterwards and achieve the same results (or better)? L&D is also key. Clear training, mentoring or secondment opportunities are crucial.
Do businesses need to have a purpose?
Millennials don’t need to be sold to. But if you’re going to have a purpose, make sure it feels congruent and ties in with what you’re asking your team to do in the day to day. It doesn’t have to be all about saving the world, but millenials do want to feel that they are part of something; that they’re contributing to something greater than just making other people money. It’s a sentiment that, I suspect, isn’t shared just by millennials, but by most humans.