As millennials, we absent mindedly switch back and forth between browser tabs and apps, we can never decide which of our multiple mobile devices we want to use at any given time and we skip songs on a playlist halfway through. We seem to be easily bored by cross generational issues, our concentration span is now very low. We struggle with the monotony of the same environment.
If you sign in onto LinkedIn now, a bunch of your notifications are those of millennials who are changing jobs and half of them, if not most, are of those who have not attained one and let alone two-year work anniversaries. With millennials the goal is no longer that of career growth or security but that of a change of environment and to an extent money, some say.
Why the instability?
Firstly, failure to manage cross generation issues. Quadragenarians and those older mostly still believe in climbing the traditional ladder yet millennials believe in exploring their careers. These different beliefs already cause tension within departments, leading to millennials not thinking twice when it comes to changing jobs. Research suggests that today’s college graduates will have a half a dozen or more jobs by the time they hit their thirties. With millennials the expectations have changed because of the different goals. In addition, the older colleagues in some instances prefer predictability and often prefer to do things using the proven method — why fix it if it is not broken, some would ask. On the other hand, millennials are disruptive by nature and we will try to reinvent a process even if it has been giving the desired results for the past several decades. Millennials believe in improving a process. Just because something works well, does not mean it cannot be improved. This difference in thinking can be a source of friction between the millennials and the older generations.
Secondly, as millennials we constantly want assurance that our positions play a significant role in the organisation’s success. Over the years things have changed, as in the past, employers would expect employees to feel appreciative of having a job, but now millennials believe that employers need to feel appreciative of having their employees. This is particularly so if the employees concerned possess key attributes or talents that drive the organisation’s success. Due to this drastic change, a culture of performance is to be adopted by every management team, where everyone understands the expectations and is held accountable for performing to them. There are slight exceptions to this as there is generally high unemployment among a number of young professionals within particular fields.
Thirdly, job insecurity. The state of uncertainty about continued employment within millennials is one of the factors that leads to job-hopping. Workers may experience acute job insecurity — such as when a layoff or termination looms. This can be termed chronic job insecurity, which is a more generalised fear about not being able to hold onto one’s job.
Many workers may experience job insecurity at some point in their careers because of having spent a significant amount of their professional lives in less-than-stable employment situations. However, it is not all bad news. As much as millennials enjoy new challenges and environments, this has to be on our own terms and not because an organisation is about to fold or lay off staff.
Here is what you need to know about millennials and obtaining value from them.
They say ignore millennials at your own peril. This generation is a key resource which is full of initiative and innovation. As much as we may challenge the status quo, we mean well and the idea is to derive the most for the benefit of our employers and ultimately ourselves. Just to clarify on the obtaining value for ourselves, this does not necessarily mean financial rewards as this is not a key factor, except for when there are external influences which will force a millennial to focus on their finances. Though rare, in the absence of pressing external financial commitments, a millennial would be more driven by the desire to make a positive impact than they would by a hefty salary.
How to obtain value?
Always provide dainty value — Strive to always offer value in every assignment given to a millennial. Minor value is still value, so always offer it. Striving to always produce the best of one’s work or skill does not just bring uplifting to a person but it also stretches you out of your comfort zone landing you to your next level. Allow millennials to be creative all the time as you consider how best they can make contributions within a department or the organisation at large.
Choose quality over quantity — It is not always about the “congrats and well done” we have received but it is about what we have contributed and its impact. Oftentimes people are drawn in their urge to achieve the next level forgetting about how best to use their current achievements for their good, the department and the organisation. Millennials are drawn to the quality and impact of their actions. Ensure that they are given opportunities to perform impactful tasks or assignments.
Connections expansion — Due to our job hopping tendencies, millennials will have considerable connections list in spite of our young age. Millennials are also constantly reaching out with the aid of social media. For example, task yourself to reach out to one person a month or even a fortnight. You will have connected with at least 12 individuals who can offer you immeasurable unique insights, by year end. It may seem time consuming but the benefits are fathomless. It is not only you who benefits but it is actually two sided, which is a good thing as both parties get to benefit. On this basis employers can derive value from the contacts that millennials have especially when looking into business development.
Provide counsel — Constantly seek to counsel the millennials if you have achieved it within the organisation or department. The elders would say “life has no formula neither, does how to go about it”, but I push back to this saying as things always have a trail or a path you can always follow. You may deviate from it a bit but you will always be in that trail. Do not be discouraged by some of the extreme energy, excessive enthusiasm or even lack of appreciation from millennials when you engage with us but do give valid and useful advice. This will help the millennials perform very well.
In conclusion, one day the millennials will be the sole leaders and it is important to have a handshake with the older generations to ensure that all the knowledge is passed on while the improvements we bring are also made.
Makumbinde is an articled clerk and writes in her personal capacity. — LinkedIn Rutendo Vallerie Makumbinde.