Millennials in the Workplace (Part 1)

There are four key generations to consider in the workplace today, for the first time in history you get all four of them working together in the same organization, how odd is that, this must present a lot of challenges for the employers. These generations are the Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1980), the Millennials (born 1981-1995) and the Generation Z (born 1996-2010). This phenomenon must cause some form of disconnect amongst employees in the workplace.

All these generations are required to coexist and work in harmony under the same roof, this has proven to be very difficult to achieve given the fact that we have different mindsets and experiences. “We are the millennials, presently the biggest population in the workplace, this does not come cheap for corporates. The generation reaching adulthood in the early 21st century, also known as Generation Y. We are raised in the world of technology, a world that is more connected through the World Wide Web, a diverse world of inclusiveness and collaboration, a global world.”

It is no secret that millennials are serial job hoppers, not because we are just chasing a quick buck but rather we are looking for meaning and fulfillment in our jobs. Work-life balance is another big priority for us. Because millennials are social butterflies, we also prefer to keep that part of our lives intact, and the employer should be more understanding when we ask for a day off to attend to a personal matter, or when we feel like working from home for a day or two. Job security is not necessarily what keeps us in a company, because we have seen a growth in people who now prefer to freelance and do contract work. A three year contract that pays exceptionally well is enough time to think about the next plan until the contract comes to an end. We tend to be more neutral in assessing the risk in such decisions, unlike our predecessors, being the Baby Boomers and Generation X, who were more risk averse about job security. So companies need to invest more in what keeps a happy workforce, and some of these perks don’t even cost the company a cent.

Millennials have a need to be connected to the universe, we want to do work that gives meaning to the world, it is no longer about going to work, giving your all and meeting deadlines. A common question that millennials ask in the workplace is; “why?’’, why do I have to do it? This is a simple question, yet a shocker for a manager of the Baby Boomer generation, but to us it’s a question to seek meaning in the work we do. Millennials strive to acquire the knowledge they need to execute their duties exceptionally well, and this makes them a very specialized bunch. Therefore corporations need to align their strategy to the behavioral attributes of the millennial in order to keep them happy and retain their skills.

Career growth is a big thing for us, and the only way to know that you are being valued by a company is when they are investing in your personal development. Talent must be nurtured in the modern workplace, allow your employees the opportunity to study further. Give your employees the opportunity to grow with you, challenge them in the tasks they do, assign them to projects that remove them from behind the desk. We love to do work that reflects on our compassion towards initiatives that give meaning to our existence.

We go all out on networking, it is our thing, and we are what they call social butterflies. We keep a close network of professionals for days when we need their expertise. In the South African context millennials are the most qualified in terms of tertiary education (amongst other generations), and I can assume that this is the case worldwide. Also we have a lot of big dreamers who took on entrepreneurship immediately after high school. So amongst us there is a good mix of qualified professionals, pioneers, innovators and creatives, hence our network is filled with a variety of skilled people. We take full advantage of this fact and we have a desire to collaborate beyond our boundaries.

Writer: Kabelo Motsugi      Photographer: Max Mogale