Millennials are entering the job market. A generation of interesting, well-educated specialists with their own career ideas and expectations. A generational change is obviously taking place. If the preconceptions are to be believed, these young people are especially demanding, erratic and self-pleasing. Is there something to it? How can organizations win over millennials? And more importantly: how can employers use the career ideas of the generation Y? Communication is a key factor.
Millennials, also known as generation Y («why»), are individuals born in the 80ies and 90ies. The notion of «generation» stands for a group of people whose childhood and youth was characterized by similar environmental impacts. In the case of millennials: globalization, digitalization, economic crises and seemingly infinite number of choices. Millennials are the first generation of digital natives, born in an interconnected world where they are part of a multi-option society. Millennials are adaptive, motivated, eager for knowledge, hard-working and dare to question existing structures from time to time.
The notion of a generation simplifies assumptions. Tendencies and trends can be classified more easily, attitudes and values can be categorized. But stereotypes leave no room for individual additions. Thinking of: different stages in life (with its own challenges!) or experiences. Or different personalities and backgrounds. These factors determine the individual behavior just like the generation to which a person belongs. Categorization ought to be connected with a certain amount of prudence.
Furthermore, studies have shown that the generational differences aren’t as big as expected in the first place. All professionals attach importance to job content, teamwork and skill development. What distinguishes the generation Y from other generations is primarily the prioritization of these criteria.
Previous generations followed a clear scheme: a great deal of work – a great deal of responsibility – a great deal of salary. For millennials, this doesn’t work as a driving force anymore. Millennials strive for reconcilability. Flexible working hours, which ensure a combination of family, career and personal time are all the rage. The wish to find interesting job content is of central importance. Millennials want to develop their competences within the interests of the company they work for but they also want to achieve their personal goals. They expect their employer to support them in terms of personal growth and career management, they see their superiors as mentors, seek authentic, more personal relationships and they are interested in leadership that takes place on eye-level. Also, millennials are convinced that appreciation should not be neglected. Also, what is going on within the company doesn’t leave them cold. They want to be a part of the team, fit in and be informed. And they want to receive constructive feedback on a regular basis in order to upgrade their skills and make progress. This closer look reveals that stereotypes held against millennials do not really apply. But what do young people expect from their (potential) employer? And how to retain millennials?
Companies would be well advised to involve with this new generation of employees. This already starts with the recruitment process: in order to find hidden talents, employers should pay attention to personalities and not so much on what is written on paper. Do not forget: often, millennials choose to escape the linear career-path if something else awakens their passion. Those companies presenting themselves with an authentic and informative corporate image, look more attractive for the generation Y. If teamwork and a good team culture takes center stage and the company offers outstanding further training possibilities at the same time, things get interesting.
Once recruited, employers can foster a process of skill development among their workers. Mentoring programs are especially suited for this. While the employees are recognized as an individual, they receive feedback and support. And this process allows for trusted working relationships to be built. Active participation, open dialogue and a variety of challenges enhance the satisfaction of the employees and hence strengthens their commitment.
The important thing for companies is to create a working environment where employees can make optimal use of their strengths and nurture their professional development. However, this requires flexibility in terms of structures within the company and regularly talk about their needs with employees. If employers are willing to adapt to changing living conditions of their employees by adjusting their workload, facilitate flexible working hours and support home office there is a good chance that the collaboration will be long-term.
But one thing is clear: there is no such thing as a simple recipe for success to win over millennials. Companies must be flexible, ready for change and fundamentally review their existing structures. That way young talents have the opportunity to weigh in their know-how and qualifications to the labor market. This is the only way businesses can utilize the great potential of millennials in a sustainable manner given that they want to remain successful in the future. Open and honest communication on equal terms builds the foundation for content and committed employees.
This topic was at the heart of a series of panel discussions for employers. The conversation was led and moderated by Aileen Zumstein and was organized by the regional employment service (RAV) in collaboration with the professional counselling centers (BIZ) of the Canton of Berne.
Also our customers are faced with the challenge of meeting the expectations of Generation Y as an employer. It is our conviction that with their authentic communication with Millenials, companies build trust, strengthen relationships and promote dialogues and thus create sustainable added value. As strategic consultants, we focus on perspective, relationships and the human being as an individual. We accompany our clients with the essential external perspective and support them in their cross-generational communication.
The following scientists are conducting research in this field:
Prof. Dr. Peter Kels, Professor für HRM, Leadership und Innovation, Hochschule Luzern – Wirtschaft
Prof. Dr. Andreas Hirschi, Ordentlicher Professor für Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie, Universität Bern
Prof. Dr. Andrea Gurtner, Dozentin für wissenschaftliches Arbeiten und HRM, Berner Fachhochschule
Read more about this interesting topic (in German):
Info Telebilingue, 6.11.2017 | http://www.telebielingue.ch/de/info-vom-6-november-2017-0