By 2025, Generation Y, also known as Millenials, will comprise more than half of the global population and 75% of the workforce. Employers will not be able to ignore the demands of these workers and many companies have already begun adjusting policies to attract and retain Millennials.
This view is supported by a recent study undertaken by the Department of Industrial Psychology at the North-West University which identified some of the factors that will not only draw Millenial employees, but retain this talented and upwardly mobile sector of the workforce, so necessary and essential to maintaining competitiveness in the 21st century.
A.T Kearney, a global management consulting firm, says it is important to understand the behavioural characteristics of these Millenials. The company says when it comes to their careers, the Millennials want to be productive in a different way. They want to work when and where they work best, whether at home, on the road, after hours, or part-time, and they want recognition for what they do.
North West’s Nicolene Strydom says these young people are ambitious, confident and achievement-oriented. They switch jobs more than any other generation, in fact double the rate of baby boomers, and they crave change, opportunity and stimulation in their working lives.
A Pew Research study, showed that 80% of Millennials expect regular feedback and recognition, 70% expect flexibility and “me time”, and one-third say they would even choose these over higher pay.
“The big question is how can business best accommodate this new generation and match the new mindset with the business goals of the organisation?” asks Gavin Olivier, partner and managing executive at LRMG Performance Agency
He says it is important to firstly address the issue of work life balance and see how one can build in flexi hours, compressed weeks and utilise mobile technology that will suit the Millenials’ tech savvy profile.
Olivier says workplace flexibility also provides a hidden opportunity to draw and keep women in the workplace.
“At present there is often a struggle to balance family responsibilities and rigid work requirements but Millenials are upending that trend,” he says. A number of companies globally and locally have already started to adjust policies and the success of the strategy is evident in a company like Google, the archetype of Generation Y workplaces. It has been first on Fortune’s Best Companies to Work for list for the past four years.
The next key area to address is career development. Olivier says the trend demands a greater need for investment in Human Resources, talent management and proactive career pathing.
“This makes good sense when you consider the cost of rehiring. It costs 1.7 times more to employ externally,” he says.
Millenials will certainly move if there is a lack of career development and this is where businesses can effectively start to use PET Performance Enabling Technology to track proper talent management for career growth. A people centric technology solution is preferable to train staff utilising a pull strategy versus a push strategy for learning.
“Allow access via e-learning to allow employees to learn when and where they want rather than being prescriptive,” he says.
Olivier says it is also important to encourage and reward self-training by offering additional leave or other benefits for levels of courses completed.
Gammification techniques can be used quite successfully here. These techniques which strive to leverage people’s natural desires for competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, and closure have shown to increase an employees’ ability to learn by as much as 40%.
“A good example is where companies can make existing tasks feel more like games. Some techniques used in this approach include adding meaningful choice, onboarding with a tutorial, increasing challenge and adding narrative,” says Olivier. “Base salary competitiveness and benefits like retirement benefits are also important and should not be discounted,” he says.
Organisations that can effectively use the mindset of Millenials will be successful in retaining them and by implication, attracting other talent.
“We know that this group is highly community-driven and vocal in their opinions. They like to share constantly which is resonated by their technological activities. They can easily become brand ambassadors if treated correctly, or brand detractors if not accommodated,” concludes Olivier.