You have probably watched the viral video of Simon Sinek in which he makes a 15-minute analysis about the Millennials’ personality, and why they feel so distracted and disengaged at work. Simon covers everything from social media addiction to parenting flaws in the generation’s problem. After watching the video, I had in mind to make an analysis of what an HR department can do in order to maximize their efforts, and retain young talent on long-term.
I guess my intention was right because yesterday during my lunch break I heard an interesting discussion between two friends. Maria, one of the ladies at the nearby table, works for one the biggest software companies in the building as a QA Junior.
“I have been with the company for a year, but I am thinking to quit soon”, she told her friend.
I then realized that what I had in front of me, was the special case of the so-called ‘Millennials’. They were analyzing their lives, trying to make the best decision for their future.
“You already want to quit? But, what does your perfect job look like, Maria?” her friend asked.
“Does that even exist?” Maria replied. “I need to have a purpose, not a job. I need to feel part of a vision bigger than myself…When I’ll be 30, I want to be able to raise my kids…and not to stay trapped in an office. I wish I could come and leave at the office whenever I need to… “
“Do you like what you are doing?” asked her friend.
“Yes, I like testing and making sure the products respect the quality standards. The problem is that, I am testing so much what other people do….and nobody is ‘testing’ how I’m doing. It’s been a year and I had one general boring review that didn’t give me a specific future direction.
“You know, until now, I have changed 3 jobs… I don’t know if there’s something wrong with me, but I don’t seem to find my place in this world. If only, I would have the resources to open my own business…”
I smiled when I heard her thoughts. She was so ambitious but so naïve and unprepared at the same time. But her friend spoke my thoughts.
“You know, Maria…opening a business is not that easy. It is indeed very brave, but you will need four important resources: time, money, energy and space. Which one of these do you have?”
“I am 26. I have the money. I have the energy, but I do not have the time. I feel stuck in that office. It would help me a lot to work remotely. I would certainly be more productive. I feel I do not have any work-life balance. Do you think I should quit my job?“
I will tell you at the end of this article what her friend’s answer was.
The truth is…
Her story is pretty common. The Millennial generation (born between 1980 and 2000) form a very significant part of the workforce. The HR department in cooperation with the executive teams need to adopt the ‘people’ strategies in order to keep Millennials on long-term. As Maria confirmed, they do not work just for the money, and they need to feel part of something bigger than themselves.
Here’s what you could take into consideration when taking care of the Millennials in your company.
The most important benefit for millennials is having a flexible work schedule. According to Deloitte, 75% of Millennials would prefer to work from home, or other locations where they feel they could be most productive. However, only 43% currently are allowed to do this. Millennials are even willing to take a 10% or 20% cut in pay in exchange for flexible work options (Flexjobs). Their reasons are simple: they want to have a work-life balance that will allow them to be with their families, and they want to save commuting time and stressful rush hours.
This is where the power and creativity of the organizations come into play. There are so many ways we can reward effort: from a simple “thank you” note to cash prizes, company trips, team buildings and others. You probably know that saying, “the more you give, the more you will receive”. This is especially true in our relationships. In a survey by McKinsey Quarterly in 2009, praise from immediate supervisors and attention from company leaders were found to be just as important, or more important, than financial rewards.
According to Universum, one of the biggest fears of Millennials is getting stuck with no development opportunities, not being able to realize their career goals, and not finding a job that matches their personality. Besides assessing their skills and personality, we need to make sure we offer constant feedback and revise their career path and professional goals when appropriate. I wrote in previous articles on the blog how you can offer employee feedback and decrease employee burnout. However, the way they expect feedback has dramatically changed. The old annual reviews, the goal-setting process – all in a standardized system – simply do not work for them anymore. They need face-to-face feedback. In order to keep them engaged in our companies, we need to customize the performance feedback and goal-setting processes. Personalization will make them stand out of the crowd and feel important. And that’s the first step in keeping them in your company on long-term.
Still wondering what Maria’s friend told her?
“Nobody has the right to tell you what to do, and YOU are the one who can truly take a decision about moving forward with that company or not; however…please don’t give up so easily. As long as you don’t blame yourself and be 100% present in what you are doing, everything will fall into place and you will find your answers at the right time.”
Would you have told her anything differently? Let me know in your comments below how you approach Millennials, and what your organization is doing to avoid stories like Maria’s.
Nice story. I think the most important benefit is to offer a flexible work-schedule and trust they will do their job in time. I think tools like Asana, Jira or Trello can help for better organizational management.
We are currently working in predefining the feedback forms and reviews and introducing monthly HR talks so that we are aware of their challenges and can overcome them in time.
I liked your article. I believe face-to-face feedback is the most important action that we can do as HR. There’s a complex phycology behind the millennials’ minds, and we need to know it as best as we can.