India is on its way to become the world’s youngest country by 2022, says an article on United Nations website.
What does this mean for the labour market?
We have already set foot in a radically shifting economy along with a changing workforce, courtesy to the changing demographics. HR experts and thought leaders believe that this new wave of workforce comes with a whole new ideology of working, thus leading to a paradigm shift in the way organisations function.
New workforce, new learning
Working with people who have only seen a world surrounded and driven by technology and instant output can indeed be challenging, especially with establishments that swear by certain core philosophies and have been operating in that manner for generations. To be able to deal with such an entirely new generation of employees who think, live and work differently, organisations and organisational leaders need to understand the millennial mindset. But this is not the difficult bit. Accepting this mindset may be more challenging than it may seem.
Another approach to deal with this new workforce is to acknowledge that just as we find working with them a challenge, vice versa is equally true. This opens immense possibilities. Wouldn’t it be a lot more easier to win them over if we help them deal with the challenges that they face? Here are 5 challenges to get the ball rolling. Each challenge includes a possible way you can help the new workforce to overcome that challenge.
5 challenges for the new workforce
Commitment and dependability
Most often than not, the newer generation employees tend to have shorter stints in an organisation than their earlier counterparts. Whether it is the tendency to get bored easily, getting lured by a better pay or simply the whims of wanting to “do something new”, this segment of the population has the difficulty of being committed to one job for years. This lack of commitment is often seen as a ‘loyalty issue’, or ‘lack of patience’. It is this restlessness that makes such employees unreliable, which on practical level, costs the organisation, in terms of resources and revenue as well. A plausible solution to this, is developing a flexible environment where employees could do multiple things, or get rotated to a different role. Google’s example of allowing flexibility to its employees to work for some time on what they think will benefit Google, also comes to mind.
The millennial generation has grown up in a dynamic environment, and in a world which is growing at light speed. And adopting from their environment, this newer set of professionals want to climb up the ladder, at light speed. This phenomenon of leapfrogging tends to minimize the learnings one gathers on job. There is no harm in wanting to grow but not acknowledging gestation period could result in lack of experience and expertise thus affecting work. Most senior employees do not see this as a positive aspect and affects their sentiment of seniority, which in turn affects the cohesiveness of the organisation. This is quite a common scenario across the board, and the only way to tackle this is to set realistic goals with the new employees, at the time of recruitment, so there is no irrational expectations in future. Also, there could be on-the-job tests conducted from time to time to assess their growth potential including lack of understanding. This could be doubly beneficial – driving engagement and at the same time working as an employee development initiative.
Attitude towards work
As generations evolve, so does parenting. Most millennials are brought up in a manner that “entitlement” becomes a part of it, directly or indirectly. And when they are allowed to their wants, needs and desires, that attitude is invariably extended towards their work. Employees today do not have inhibition about speaking their minds to employers, peers or even clients. They do not like to be bound by the typical 9-5 routine. They align more with completion of work rather than discipline of work hours. As much as it sounds ‘novel’, such attitude creates chaos within an organisation, where some people work by the clock and others don’t. This leads to a discipline issue. To prevent such situation, it is important to set a basic work structure, which promotes efficiency and effectiveness for all without affecting the sentiments of other employees. Look for avenues of collaboration so that an opportunity is provided to understand each-other and how their work influences others in doing their work.
We are talking about people who are oblivious of a world without computers, smart phones, instant messaging and apps. While the earlier generation of employees are more comfortable with emails or calls, this newer set of people consider an IM or a ‘Facetime’ to be the best mode of communication within the organisation or even outside, like, with clients, stakeholders etc. However, such ways of communication is not always considered to be formal and lacks documentation as per official procedures. However, this approach of the newer workforce to use all available resources of communication can be a blessing in disguise if enabled prudently. For example, there are now apps available similar to WhatsApp, but with a difference – it resides on the company’s servers. Hence you have control over the data. Being open to adopting innovative ways to work which the new workforce is more adept to, can prove to be profitable for organisations.
When we say ‘new workforce’, it essentially means millennials but it also includes employees from Gen X and Gen Y, thus contributing to the radically changing corporate melting pot. And as a practice, it has always been the onus of the preceding generation to mentor the new entrants in the market. As we see, the younger lot of professionals tend to be well-aware of their surroundings, thanks to easy access and virtual networking. They are fast learners and prefer learning on their own. Even though organisations feel the need to mentor them, it never seems to be justified. A solution to this, which major multinational companies (like Microsoft and Google) have adopted is the concept of ‘reverse mentoring’. It allows two-way learning between employers and employees where the mentors become mentees, for once, to get a perspective of the other side. This also enables leaders to stay on top of trends, and also stay connected with the newer generation.
On a concluding note…
As challenging as it might be, on a deeper level, the millennials are and could be the greatest assets of our workforce and working with new perspectives only allows the preceding generations to get a fresh outlook to work and life in general.
With our economy, people and lifestyle changing, it is imperative that organisations embrace such changes and proactively so –to recruit, manage, promote, and retain, these new, highly technical workers because, the millennials are here to stay and will shape the future of our organisations. All they need is to be guided but not guard-railed, encouraged but not entitled and thereby given an open field to learn, grow and contribute to the organisational success. After all, as the great philosopher, Socrates said: The secret of change is not in fighting the old, but on building the new.
If you want to take advantage of new workforce in growing your organisation but feel a bit anxious, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Madhukar Kumar is co-founder of Yellow Spark. His speciality lies in unearthing people’s driving force. He is an IIM Calcutta alumnus and describes himself as a seeker who is driven by purpose, fuelled by passion, and accelerated by perspectives.