Like it or not, millennials are the future. This is especially true in Asia Pacific where a staggering 58% of the world’s 20 to 38 year olds live, according to the Global Business Policy Council (GBPC). Lauded for being creative and adept adopters of new technologies, and criticized for being self-obsessed and prone to job hopping, this generation has led to a shift in the paradigm of the employer-employee relationship, which has been driven by the latter.
In general, preceding generations sought workplaces that offered stability and high pay. Millennials, however, have different priorities and expectations. In LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Culture report, it was found that 86% of millennials would consider taking a pay cut to work at a company whose mission and values align with their own. When it comes to workplace structures and policies, Gallup reports that millennials expect direct feedback, seek professional development, favour collaborative relationships with managers and value working for a purpose.
These trends mean that organizations must evolve and innovate to stay relevant, attract quality employees and retain top performers in the new millennial dominated marketplace. Furthermore, finding the right talent is still as critical as ever in today’s global economy. As employers across Asia Pacific move from dried up local talent pools and try to tap into abundant oceans of opportunities, keeping pace in the widespread ‘war for talent’ is becoming even more gruelling. The nuances of accommodating a multi-generational workforce add another layer of complexity to this challenge.
The differing values and aspirations of millennials have major implications for what kind of organizations they want to work for and how companies can adapt to better motivate and retain them. Understanding the millennial mindset is helpful to closing the gap and winning the war for talent, as the personal values and aspirations of millennials account for some of the changes in how they thrive at work.
So what can C-suite and senior management do to keep their millennial employees motivated and happy? A first and foremost thing to do is to give them a voice, be in it their careers, the company’s culture or management’s direction. Visier reports that millennials resign nearly two times as frequently as non-millennials with similar tenure, indicating that employers are largely failing to fully capitalize on the robust, dynamic talent that this generation has to offer. People that have grown up with instant messaging and social media want to be heard, especially when it concerns their future.
To this end, many companies are implementing two-way performance feedback solutions that empower employees with a designated avenue to communicate their career aspirations and goals as well as share their thoughts on their working environment. These data driven tools give employees the opportunity to manage their own personal information through a self-service platform, effectively easing some of the administrative burden on the HR team.
The one trait that binds all millennials is a high fluency with digital-era technology. A Zinwave Workplace Connectivity Survey found that millennials prefer to use their cell phone to increase personal and professional productivity. They are digital natives and therefore demand ever more digital services in their everyday lives. Companies need to be cognizant of this integration of technology into their daily routines, and understand that expectations are now very high when it comes to the reliability of IT networks and the breadth of digital options available for workers.
As such, a second area that should be considered is an employer’s digital experience. Are you running outdated operating systems and browsers? Are you forcing your employees to work with unstable or onerous HR processes? Does your staff feel empowered or burdened by the company’s IT system? These questions and others like them factor into employees’ job satisfaction more than many managers expect, especially when it comes to the new generation.
Businesses should supplement traditional operating models with new, technologically-enabled ones to better engage staff and clients. This is why companies are moving their HR systems to the cloud and embracing innovative solutions that have special features to uplift employees’ productivity and enhance employers’ decision-making based on measurable data.
For many young people, simply having a stable job and owning a home and car is no longer the ideal. Today’s youth cherish experiences and seek meaning—and are willing to sacrifice financial gain for their values. In fact, less than 20% of millennials in Hong Kong expect to stay with their current employers in the foreseeable future, according to data from the International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences (AISEC). Companies, therefore, need to project a vision beyond profits if they wish to fill their ranks with the brightest millennial employees. Companies should prioritize people and resources outside the firm over product and internal capabilities. Doing so increases positive network effects.
Another way to appeal to millennials’ values is by committing to transparency, which begins with effective management communication. Companies should be sure there are analytics tools in place for them to gain insights and produce reports that can be shared with staff to identify progress, drive company direction and enhance job satisfaction.
People’s views and values are shifting, and companies need to stay ahead of the curve by relinquishing their old modes of employee engagement. By adapting these modes and implementing HR solutions to better align with the millennial mindset, companies will have the ability to channel and benefit from what makes millennials great: an incredible ability to innovate and use technology to make the world a better place.