Why it makes business sense for small & medium businesses to embrace millennials

August 6, 2018

India in 2020 will be the youngest country in the world with a median age of 29 years and more than 400 million millennials – those born between 1982 and 2000!

In 2020, 46% of our workforce will be millennials and the talent advantage will be with workplaces that encourage and motivate them. White collar to blue collar staff, all will be dominated by millennials.

The millennial world

Millennials have grown up in an economic context post liberalisation, post internet, and in the midst of digitisation. Their growing up years were about attention, encouragement, democratic decisions at home and cooperative learning styles at school. Their identity is not solely anchored around their career and they engage in many spheres of interest.  

They do not hesitate to share views, voice opinions, andvalue the following at the workplace:

  • Rich experiences, skilling up, and frequent feedback
  • Voice to be heard – more democracy and less hierarchy
  • Purpose wins over profits and social impact appeals strongly
  • Quality of workplace experience

Their strongest driver is learning and development because they see their working life stretching to their 70s and their career paths being non-linear. Lifelong learning will be essential and skilling up is constantly important to them, both in terms of training in new areas and changes in role and responsibilities.

Speaking up and speaking out comes naturally and hierarchy does not hold them down. They will question and seek answers actively.  They also demand frequent feedback on their work and place high value on recognition practices.

Social impact is important for millennials and they actively engage and contribute on social issues. The response to Swatch Bharat, green environment, gender equality movements speaks of their commitment. They bring this consciousness to the workplace and want their company to have a stated position on critical social matters.

Millennials have experienced the benefits of technology in every sphere with Uber, Ola, Swiggy, Amazon, Flipkart, and lack of automation at the workplace becomes glaring. Direct visibility on Youtube of the many automation solutions businesses have incorporated makes more of their workplace shortfalls stand out.

Previous generations learned to keep silent about the change they wanted, but the millennials are vocalising the change they want.

Millennial practices

The drivers of the millennial generation are not really bad for business.  The changes millennials demand are seen to have a positive impact on business results. Some of the practices that have been adapted successfully by companies to be millennial-friendly include:

  • Managers being more visible, actively accessible, less bossy, and more mentor
  • More team oriented work with collaboration across different functions enabled by technology tools like Slack, Huddle
  • Self-service and automation of basic processes and reporting across all functions from Sales to HR
  • Have made pulse surveys a routine and frequently get feedback on company policies and practices to improve the employee experience
  • Quarterly performance reviews against annual ones. Use of online systems bring  more objectivity and transparency to the process
  • Giving the learning control in the hands of the learner. There are multiple ways to learn today - classroom, certification, online courses, seminars, webinars etc and using learning wallets gives employees choice on the method best suited to them.
  • Mentoring and buddy programs to enable both subject matter and personal growth. Use of digital knowledge platforms like build accountability into these programs.
  • Taking up social and environmental responsibility programs where employees volunteer and invest their time.  Ninety-four percent of millennials want to use their skills to benefit a cause and 57% wish that there were more company-wide service days.

Millennials are eager to go to work for organisations where they want, not need, to show up.

For 60% of millennials, a sense of purpose is the reason they chose their current employer. More than half would take a 15% pay cut to work for a company that matches their ideals. 

Becoming a company that welcomes and retains millennials makes business sense – best to be proactive on this transformation!

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