Getting the best out of the Millennials
There are five generations of employees in today’s multi- generational workplace – the Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and the Generation Z or Millennials. The traditionalists, founding fathers of many large businesses today in the Philippines, are giving way to their scions. Many boomers retired butwork as consultants because of their wisdom. The Millennials are the newest entrants and fewest inhabitants of the workplace today.
In the near future, nearly 88% of employees will be Millennials. Are employers prepared for this? Management systems in place today were developed in the 1980’s when human resources (HR) was first recognized as an important business function. Much has changed in the workforce demographics since then.
By 2018, the Connecticut- based Gartner predicts a totally different global workplace. About 50% of the fastest growing companies in the world will have fewer employees, despite expansion plans. Intelligent machines will author 20% of all business content. Six billion connected things will be requesting technology support. More than three million human workers will be supervised by “robo-bosses.” Businesses will leverage on smart machine technologies in order to succeed.
In the May 19, 2016 AMCHAM Talent Summit held by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, John Clements Consultants VP and Managing Director Grace Sorongon enumerated the skills required by the future workplace. Based on a number of researches, the future skills include digital savvy, novel and adaptive thinking, social intelligence and collaboration, cross-cultural competency, virtual collaboration, and data-driven and quick decision-making.
Free-agent and contingent
Like it or not, the whole world is transitioning from having regular employees to adopting a “free-agent” or “contingent” workforce.
- Michael Cox of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank said, “One of the greatest lessons is that the secret to growth is losing jobs.” Fifteen years ago, nearly six percent of American workers were already contingent workers or independent contractors. They move from job to job, are self-sufficient, are often sole proprietors, and constantly reinvent and market themselves via a set of virtual assets. This mobility at work is their badge of honor.
In the Philippines, thousands of middle-aged employees take early retirement every yearto pursue entrepreneurship or a variety of interesting jobs. They are not motivated by retirement pay or other traditional incentives. They prefer high-intensity but short-duration projects. They get paid for performance, not for longevity.
Many large private organizations have ditched the traditional career ladder. Employees no longer move up one rung at a time due to incumbency and longevity. The younger workers are no longer defined by their position. Who they are and what they do are two different things.
Many boomers and Gen X entrepreneurs start up businesses that employ millennials. Their workplace is usually freewheeling, fast-paced, and colorful. A thin line divides work and play, as “gamification” of learning and working is par for the course.
Unlike large traditional companies, organizations inhabited by millennials offer unconventional pay and benefits – pay for performance, free house cleaners for working moms, mountain bikes for top salespeople, a “sick bank” where healthy employees can pool their sick leaves and transfer the same to workmates with grave or recurring illnesses. Pay is not the attraction and retention mechanism. Millennials are moved by the chance to make a difference, learn, play, grow and acquire skills needed for their choice of lifestyle or career.
Attract and retain
Here are some new realities and tips to attract and retain talented millennials:
Manage, not just retain, great talents. Integrated all approaches in talent management – strategies, systems, policies, decisions, and practices – that attract and retain great talents.
Business is not a spectator sport. Young, ambitious talents want to participate in the business of doing business. They want a “diagonal slice” of the company where they can make their mark.
Talents want inclusivity. As long as there’s a fit between the job applicant and the organizational values and skills required, hire people regardless of age, gender, race, physical disability, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
Talent magnets offer something for everyone. Millennial talents flock to hot spots that have high-tech environments, “latte towns” with accessible amenities, and new urban technology centers.
Talents seek friendly environments. Techies want to move in, plug in, and in two weeks build a network of like-minded friends and teammates. They want to work in a place where friends abound, their support system at work.
Stop exit interviews, start stay interviews. Exit interviews are too late – people have decided to move out already. To retain great talents, ask them occasionally what will make them stay and contribute to the organization.
If they holler, let them go. If your talents want to job-hop, let them. It’s pointless to prevent people from leaving you. If they come back with more skills, take them back. Open door is a good talent policy.
(Ernie is the 2013 Executive Director and 1999 President of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP); Chair of the AMCHAM Human Capital Committee; and Co-Chair of ECOP’s TWG on Labor and Social Policy Issues. He is President and CEO of EC Business Solutions and Career Center. Contact him at [email protected])
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