16 December 2016
Millennials are frequently talked about at the office, in magazines and on the social networks. Whether we praise or criticise them, they are taking up more and more space in the job market. Effectively, they will represent more than 75% of the workforce in less than ten years. Their employers, predominantly from the baby-boomer generation, sometimes have difficulty in understanding them and working well with them. How does one harness the potential of the millennial generation?
Who are the millennials?
To understand who they are, it is first of all necessary to linger on their socio-cultural context.
Born between 1980 and 2000, the millennials grew up in the middle of the technology boom; new technologies constitute an extension of their capacity. They are at ease with immediate, written communication, up to date with the latest trends and open to the world and its diversity.
Parental education took up a lot of space in the life of millennials. Very invested, their parents pushed them to perform and this generation is currently the most educated.
Arriving on the job market in full recession, the millennial generation is sadly known as the first generation to be more impoverished than the previous generation and society as a whole. In addition to suffering a decline in disposable income amounting to 4% in Canada and 8% in France, the reserves in the government coffers escape them to the benefit of the baby-boomers who reach retirement age in massive numbers and withdraw significant pension funds while demanding more and more from the health system.
In the end, their long studies and the unfavourable economic context mean that 36% of young workers are currently still financially dependent on their parents.
Harnessing the potential of millennials.
At ease with technologies and resourceful, millennials hate boredom. They learn fast and independently. It is by entrusting them with stimulating projects, inviting them to surpass themselves and presenting them with a project in its entirety that you will be able to harness the perseverance and relentlessness of this generation, used to moving in a world in constant motion.
Socialised from an early age by family, friends, leisure activities or social networks, milennials consider collaborative work more interesting and satisfying in terms of sociability, productivity and creativity. Very attached to their community, their working environment is extremely important to them. A major survey conducted by the giant PricewaterhouseCoopers reveals that millennials see work as a thing rather than a place. In other words, they consider their work a way of life and not a way of earning a living. They are therefore seeking a working environment in which they want to invest and in which they are able forge links with their colleagues. Please do not understand here that you absolutely have to set up and ping-pong table in your offices but rather that you will gain by favouring team work, cooperation between your departments and relaxing hierarchical links.
In the same vein, millennials want to be assessed on their capacity to fulfil expectations rather than their presence at work. A survey conducted by Forbes shows that millennials place development and fulfilment as the most valued benefits at work. Aware of the instability of the market, millennials are more inclined to accept a new job opportunity when it arises. They thus seek to improve their practise and also broaden their skill profile and explore different avenues. By stepping outside the conventional employer-employee framework to establish a coaching relationship with your young employees, you will be able to encourage them to pursue their development. Listen to their aspirations and uncertainties in order to provide them with better support and advice in their development.
Very connected, millennials are well informed about the environmental, social, political and economic issues that muddy the waters of their future. While the baby-boomers prioritised a good salary for their first job, millennials favour finding a job they like and/or that has meaning and contributes to the progress of society. With models like Mark Zuckerberg and Boyan Slat, they are eager for change, they have big ideas and the ambition to change things and they are creative, enterprising, invested and respectful. It is from this ambition that the importance of presenting projects in their entirety and giving them meaning ensues.
Finally, millennials are seeking balance between work, leisure and family above all. Unlike previous generations who placed work at the forefront, millennials want flexibility and independence. Flexible hours, shorter working weeks, remote work, unlimited leave banks and assessment of work quality rather than attendance, they are very aware of the advantages offered by the technologies and transformations in the world of work. Exercise openness and flexibility and seek compromises, millennials are good communicators and will not hesitate to start up a transparent conversation with you.
The company Gallup recently conducted an exhaustive survey on the living and working habits of millennials. Its conclusion is that this generation is profoundly different and it will change the world, much more than all the other generations did before them.
With values, aspirations and priorities so different from those of previous generations, it goes without saying that the millennial generation is challenging companies to revise their methods and open up to the future. In addition, millennials are aware that these changes will not happen alone and that initiating them will require efforts and relentlessness on their part. From now until it is their turn to hold the reins of the world of work, millennials are going to continue to grab headlines and upset conventional ways of doing things!
Shéhérazade Ajili, Instructional designer, Novaconcept, France
Béatrice Loubier, Instructional designer, Novaconcept, Québec