The Millennial Workforce
If you want to increase productivity in your organisation you will at some stage need to recognise the importance of your workforce, as this is a vital cog in your business. An unproductive employee will do far more harm than good, so managing them correctly is crucial if you want to get reap the best results out of what is already a very expensive necessity. This is why staff retention and motivation becomes crucial.
An important modern development that human resource managers and business leaders need to recognise is that the new wave of modern employees (under the age of around 35) is vastly different from the previous two generations. There are reasons for this that make all the sense in the world if you consider them in context, and it then shows your workforce in a different light. This should help companies with their approach to recognising the needs and motivations of their workforce, which will consist of everyone from Baby Boomers, through to Generation X and onto Millennials, who are increasingly becoming more important.
This is vital to understand when you consider the competitive advantage you can develop for your organisation if you harness the human capabilities right in front of you. What makes your staff tick and how you can therefore inspire, motivate and lead them in the direction that will help you the most?
Here are some key differences between the generation gaps:
Baby Boomers: Born 1940 – 1964
After World War II ended there was naturally an increase in birth rates and the resulting generation eagerly sought to improve their place in life, having grown up in humble conditions. This developed a need for job security and stability, but also fueled a rise in consumerism.
• This is the wise and experienced generation that has lived through every type of situation already.
• They will be winding down their careers, would probably appreciate flexi-time (and not abuse it) and possibly seek calmer, less stressful roles in the workplace.
• This group don’t need the inspirational talks or company buzzwords – honesty will do fine here, as they’ve heard all the team talks before.
Generation X: Born 1965 – 1979
Children of the baby boomers, they were taught to work hard for something and that you get out what you put in, so there is a higher degree of entrepreneurial spirit within this group. They can calculate the risks versus rewards and are not afraid to take them. They also have a varied degree of life and work experience by this stage, so are very versatile. IT skills are not a problem for them.
• A healthy work-life balance means a lot to them, as does financial rewards, but they can distinguish between a happy lifestyle and being a work-slave.
• Meritocracy is understood well, and being corrected when wrong is expected and learned from.
• Can take the rough with the smooth and understand that failure is as much a part of life as success is.
Millennials: Born 1980 – 2000
There seems to be much confusion about what this latest generation of workers wants out of life and how they perceive various issues. ‘Helicopter parenting’ from their parents in Generation X has a lot to do with this, as their parent’s belief that they can have anything in this life has made Millennials supremely confident, and this often gets portrayed as arrogance. The internet has taught this generation that you shouldn’t have to wait for anything as instant gratification is expected. This has also led to a generation that needs constant recognition and reward for everything and that losing is unacceptable, which is unfortunately not realistic.
• They want the best of all worlds because their parents have taught them that this is possible. Want their work to be meaningful and creative, as well as lucrative.
• Dogmatic leadership does not work well with Millennials. They want their leadership to reflect their own goals and aspirations – to be role models for themselves to follow.
• Instant and informative feedback is generally required, with direction if need be.
• Expect their leaders to listen to them, but embrace mentorship and collaboration.
• They will sooner walk out of a job and into another one rather than stay working in a culture they detest or feel undervalued in.
Millennials have so much to bring to the table, and it must be noted because they are going to be the overwhelming majority of the workforce very soon. The sooner leaders understand Millennials better, the sooner they can harness their strengths mentioned above and work with their fears. This group is extremely motivated and once they buy into an idea or mindset will make excellent contributions to the team effort. They are also excellent problem solvers when challenged. It is simply up to business owners to draw the best qualities out of Millennials while keeping them from becoming disillusioned.
Obviously, all points made in this article are generalised and won’t apply to everybody. The trick for business owners and leaders of organisations is to understand who they have working for them better, then be able to resist applying a ‘one rule fits all’ policy to their team. Different groups of people respond differently to various stimuli, pressures and incentives. Once that has been worked out your workforce can be developed into an asset that competitors will want for themselves!