I remember my first day at work, dressed in formals rushing to reach the office on time…so conscious about the first impression I make. And believe me, all this drama even though I completed a year-long on-the-job course as a student in the very same organisation! Somehow it felt like I had to be more serious now, because I was an employee of the organisation, no longer a student.
Each day started with a quick meeting with the department head, he discussed the work at hand with our team. He helped us plan our work and we would set out tasks for ourselves and not leave our post till we achieved what was asked of us.
In the absence of internet, rather with limited access to internet in my initial days of work, our department head was a very critical source of information and learning. A lot of what I learned, unlearned, came from my colleagues, other department heads, my then chairman and CEO of the company. And this learning came in many forms, solicited, unsolicited, during a meeting, in an uproar, via mistakes, via achievements…
The work environment was favourable for those who worked hard, and I remember almost everyone around me doing exactly that – working hard. There were no fixed work hours, though our appointment letters mentioned them. Work sometimes got monotonous and at times there would be too many different projects live simultaneously.
The point I’m trying to make is that there was very little of ‘what I want’ and a lot more of ‘this is how it is’, so deal with it.
And suddenly, just 15 years from my first day at work, there is a new breed of Employees that has entered our workplaces – the millennial. They may not be very different from us, you might say, but they sure seem to know what they want. And they certainly have a ‘voice’ that we never had.
A Millennial’s Voice
A cubicle should not be my cage
Do you have a space for my thoughts so rage?
Nor do I wish for a lounge or a couch,
But, I can’t let my dreams get clogged in a pouch.
They say you can do big only when you dream big,
But, how will I achieve it if you don’t let my brain dig.
They say feel free, come up with innovations,
Going against the norms? Be ready for the repercussions.
Wearing a suit and tie,
Wishing good morning and good bye,
If that’s only how a work environment should be
Hire a self-efficient robot why me?
I am an employee and not a pet ferret,
I ain’t just a resource but could be an asset.
A desk in a corner, with some photos from past,
Cribbing about the work is not how it’s gonna last.
They say you aren’t a perfect fit for this firm’s regime,
Putting up my ideologies is that also a crime.
I am a working professional not your slave,
Why walk only on the path you pave
Want an efficient organization?
Think of considering few of my solutions.
One, Treat your team as a clan,
And see how this could be the biggest plan.
Two, be the beam of your hierarchical slab,
Build up the opportunities, people wish to grab.
Three, move out the traditional professional closet,
Want to be a leader, let the company be a car, you be its bonnet.
An ideal workplace could not be mechanical,
Vision mission intact but be more radical.
It’s time we understand job is beyond incomes,
It’s more about contentment, rather just outcomes.
– a poem by Mouli Jain
Mouli was an intern at Yellow Spark and currently pursuing her second year P.G.D.M (Communications) at Mumbai. She is a natural writer. Her choice of words and style are quite refreshing.
Isn’t it good that we know what is it that the millennials want in their workplace? I would say it’s a blessing in disguise. Up until now the organisation was responsible to identify what would motivate or retain the employees; what would help improve productivity? And now here is a new generation of Employees who knows exactly what they want and what they are prepared to give in return. Somewhere the responsibility to hold the team together remains with the employer, but their role now changes from an inventor of plans for retention or productivity, to a plain and simple listener who implements plans.
These are a generation of people, whose opinion even as a child has mattered. They have very high career aspirations but not at the cost of not pursuing a passion for hobby or not having a work-life balance. Social image plays a significant role in their lives. They are on a look for immediate appreciation (read liking) and having said all this they also get bored easily. The challenge ahead of organizations is how to manage them and their dynamics with a mixed age group while maintaining the same cultural value system.
Organisation will have to adopt to flexible working hours, roll out policies to work from home, be prepared to take no for an answer, facilitate peer learning, become tech friendly, relook at team dynamics, and most importantly all of this keeping in mind their own organisational culture. Our age-old techniques for employee retention and motivation will at best pass as hygiene factors.
Every generation has a way of working, and here you read what the millennials are expecting. What one needs to prepare for is the fact that millennials are an informed generation of employees with technology at their disposal. They have grown up differently from us, learned differently from us, and their exposure has been hugely different from us. As a result, they are equipped to work in newer ways, and new ways of work demand a new set of formats, policies and rules. Expecting them to still behave and work like us is being naive and a recipe for failure.
If you wish to develop strategies to engage and retain the millennial, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.