The generation series, part 3: is your organization millennial-friendly?
Welcome to the next article in our series about generational diversity in the workplace. This third post explores a theme that many management professionals are currently experiencing: recruiting and retaining Millennials.
To explore this subject, we’ve turned to a local named Inés Arias Iglesias. She works as the Policy and Project Officer at Euroheat & Power. Recently, Inés led a panel for the Montréal Association Networking Forum on the theme, “Is your organization fit for Millennials?”
We chatted with her about how savvy organizations are readying themselves for the forthcoming generational shifts.
Tourisme Montreal: What’s your role within Euroheat & Power?
Inés Arias Iglesias: My role is to monitor and research regulatory and legislative developments in environment and general energy policy framework with emphasis on energy efficiency/buildings policies and to participate in lobbying activities. My position blends with our three departments: Policy, DHC+ Technology Platform and Events. In other words: multi-tasking!
Among the various definitions of millennials out there, what are we wrong about? What are our false assumptions?
The first challenge with millennials is to know what we talk about when we talk about millennials. Publications and definition out there are not standardized. I personally identify millennials as those that are deeply familiarized with media channels and digital technologies. They are not digital natives, although they are engaged with these communication channels form an early age.
We have plenty of false assumptions about millennials. We think that they are “lazy” and tend to move back with their parents as they delay adulthood. We assume that these young professionals are not committed and that they change their jobs very often. We perceive them as simply different. When it comes to talking about any age-based demographic, however, we need to keep in mind the larger social context. The constant change of jobs, for instance, is not as much a millennial choice as it is a consequence of the market situation and the work environment. If there are no chances to grow in a company it’s normal that anyone — young or old — decide to move forward. And moving back with parents is also linked to the 2008 recession. If you can’t get work, where else are you going to go?
Great. So, what are some true particularities about millennials?
Millennials are the most educated generation in Western history. Millennials are task-oriented not time-oriented; flexibility is key. They enter the market in a relatively late age and therefore, want to grow faster.
Lydia Abbot wrote a very accurate article about millennials, where she defines the demographic as follows: “Millennials are multitasking pros and can juggle many responsibilities at once. This also means that we are easily distracted and find social media and texting hard to resist”. I could not agree more. I would also define the millennial generation as the “Surface Generation” — they know a lot about many different things but don’t yet specialize in a specific silo.
How established is the millennial category across the globe? Or is it a more specific to regions/markets?
My perception, based on my own experience, is that millennials share the way they interact with the world through media and the fact that they are full citizens of a globalized world. Apart from that, the specificities of millennials vary depending on countries, culture and economic situation. For example, in Germany millennials prefer less income and more work-family balance. In southern countries, the aim for a millennial is to find a stable and well-paid job. In other countries millennials search for a horizontal structure in their work place. (Scandinavian countries like Denmark have implemented this non-hierarchical work space decades ago.)
What should organizations be asking themselves through this millennial-centric turning?
It would be helpful for organizations to explore a few assessment inquiries. Have we changed our approach towards the integration of young millennials in the last decade? (Do we even address millennials?) Do we have mechanisms in place to give voice to our young professionals? In other words, are we listening to them? How do we maintain our young professionals level of motivation?
Finally, if the Millennials are the Generation Y, the next generation is the Generation Z. They are, unlike us, digital native, they interact — even deeper — through media channels. Companies are still in the process of adapting to millennials, therefore they first need to adapt to newcoming generations and then, when “post-millennials” arrive, I am sure they will speak up and tell us what they need. They are not in the job market yet, they will arrive soon, with their own voice.