Today’s young people are tomorrow’s work force. The Millennial generation, comprised of kids aged 18 to 30, is coming of age soon, if they’re not already there, and employers are going to have to find ways to challenge and inspire them. Millennials are tech savvy, independent, and eager to make a living their own way. If employers don’t rise to the challenge, they’ll have a tough time filling jobs now and in the future. Millennials will make up a full half of the workforce within five years, so get cracking now to create challenging job opportunities for them.
Millennials across the world have different ideas of what constitutes a challenge. Universum, INSEAD and The Head Foundation have conducted a study to try to understand what the new generation wants and needs in the workplace. The answers differed slightly; in some parts of the world, people wanted to work hard and move past their comfort zones, while in others they wanted a lot of freedom and the ability to keep learning on the job. For example, countries like Ireland, Sweden and Brazil had a greater share of Millennials who see challenging work as moving beyond one’s comfort zone and in Poland, Paraguay and Argentina many of them see it as learning new things on a daily basis. Employers should keep those things in mind, as well as these general themes about how to create a challenge for millennials entering the workplace.
Millennials typically embrace the challenge of making the world a better place. According to Business Insider, these workers care more about improving things for others than they do about the size of their paychecks. One of the best ways to interest them is to give them jobs that impact others.
Many small businesses don’t have the cash reserves to create large scale initiatives, but they can hire people to oversee a team of volunteers that work on a community project. A paid management position where a young person supervises a crew of volunteers represents an ideal challenge for many millennials.
That said, our research also shows that there are significant differences in Gen Y’s willingness to work for the betterment of society: As it’s more important in countries like South Africa and Nigeria than for countries in Asia-Pacific. Often Millennials have been grouped under the Western Europe and North American umbrella; however, as our research indicates, there is really a need to understand the Millennial at the national level.
Millennials are very tech-savvy. Most young people spend time on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, know how to use Google to find information, and are plugged in to the Internet via smartphones and other mobile devices. They expect to be able to use online tools and smartphone apps to help them do their jobs and don’t have patience for jobs that restrict their abilities by not offering appropriate technology. In fact most of them tend to bring their own devices and use them as working tools. In order to keep the interest of this generation, employers should benchmark their level of IT sophistication to others and upgrade their operations by providing employees with plenty of challenging tasks that requires the use of innovative technologies.
Millennials are more independent-minded than their older co-workers. While previous generations expected to have to work up to a position where they had some freedom, Millennials demand a minimum of managerial interference. They prefer the challenge of reaching goals on their own and using methods they devise themselves rather than being assigned tasks by their bosses. Although the tendency to avoid micromanagement is typically a North American and Western European phenomenon, the same isn’t true for Millennials in the Asia-Pacific region. This may change over time, as the emerging markets in Asia Pacific continue to grow, requiring people to make quick and timely business decisions.
Figuring out how to engage Millennials is a challenge in and of itself. Employers need to understand this new generation of workers, as they will constitute the majority of employees in the workplace within the next six to seven years. Universum’s research shows that Millennials often have certain needs and expectations in the workplace, but the best way to challenge them appropriately is to talk to them and get to know what they expect and want from you as an employer. An in-person meeting just happens to be one of their preferred means of communication and they want to meet your regular employees, not your recruiter or CEO, as they bear the most credibility.