The 21st Century talent landscape is being ruptured by overarching global megatrends, the most fundamental of which is demographic pattern change arising from urbanisation, increasing workforce mobility, and – perhaps most central in its direct influence upon the workplace — the reshaping age structure of the world’s overall population and employment pool.
Millennials (those born from 1980 onward) currently comprise over a third of the world’s working population, and this will increase to 75 percent by 2025. This has significant implications for labour force and work-setting dynamics. Millennials are pitching the tone for a revisited talent conversation, and companies compromise their engagement approach if they do not take heed of this generation’s distinctly different attitude towards work, society and community. This has myriad practical implications, but probably the three most important revolve around recruitment philosophy, representivity (diversity), and the degree of flexibility in the workplace.
The following video offers some important insights to how this generation likes to work and what works for them:
The shift in recruitment framework should embrace hiring for attitude rather than qualifications. People who seek employment that inspires passion and affords them varied work experiences — including training opportunities — are more likely to be engaged. Reconsider the company’s on-boarding programme: the first few rubber-hits-the-road months may be the most important phase of an employee’s tenure, so ensure the programme has current relevance, especially for Millennials, and that it immerses new recruits into the corporate culture and community.
It’s also vital to foster diversity within the company. People – employees, customers, wider stakeholders – incline towards companies that mirror society’s diversity, so this makes business sense beyond the engagement objective. Importantly, consider the gender balance within the organisation: there is evidence that women at work are more engaged than men, especially in developed countries, and Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s injunction for women to ‘lean in’ can only grow as a movement; companies should be poised to embrace this philosophy.
Flexibility, as an enabler of agility, should be an option. The encouragement of a balance between personal and professional life underpins an employee’s impression of alignment between personal and corporate goals. Traditional workplace boundaries are becoming more sinuous and remote-work opportunities — provided they do not compromise interaction as the root of collaboration — may form part of an innovative and rewarding talent paradigm.
Efficiency is at the heart of the majority of Millennials’ perception gap. For instance, older generations scoff at Millennials’ fascination with smart phones but ignore what the technology represents: an efficient means to satisfy community and communication needs. Young people have been raised with technology answering their every beck and call so this type of efficiency is sought after in the real world as well. A Millennial circumventing traditional hierarchy is likely searching for the quickest route to a solution rather than orchestrating a grand-scale riot. Organisations must accommodate this mission for efficiency to ensure that they are creating a productive environment for their young workers.
In a nutshell, Millennials are a talented and dynamic generation, and the best of them are hard to find and even more difficult to keep. The finest of them are already in high demand and employers that meet their expectations will be able to take the pick of the most educated, most connected generation of our lifetime.
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