PUBLISHED ON: 25/07/2019
AUTHOR: Peter Hay, Senior content strategist
We’ve all heard the complaints about millennials; they’re lazy, no staying power, they’re entitled, and so it goes – older generations bashing the workforce that in the next five years, it has been estimated, will make up 75 per cent of employees, globally. So, basically, it’s bad business to continue in this way – internal change must happen. Understanding and engaging millennials is a starting point but a shift in organisational culture is really what’s required. It is telling that a Deloitte survey found 28 per cent of millennials claim they plan to remain in their current job for only five years and nearly half claim that they plan to quit within just two. Add to this that a staggering 61 per cent of Generation Z plan to leave and the numbers speak for themselves: the quitting culture is upon us.
57 per cent of millennials view travel and seeing the world as their top priority, where only 49 per cent wish to buy homes and 39 per cent have a desire to have children and start a family. The story of the follow-on iGen is somewhat similar. Put plainly, there is less interest in putting down roots and more interest in expanding horizons. This shift in focus brings with it a desire for a peripatetic lifestyle – to see the world and work from whichever port individuals choose to land in. Rigid company structures, poor options for flexible working and a refusal to embrace new practises enabled by technology, where other organisations have, leave little room to compete for talent. And with seven in ten millennials seeing this way of working as a possibility, they will seek out those companies that will deliver.
Generations Y and Z care. From organic produce to sustainability and the environment; social to economic and political, these groups take their belief systems, and the values of the companies to which they subscribe, for work and play, very seriously. And values must be treated without cynicism. These qualities translate both as deal-breakers for the role itself but also play a large part in cultural choices. So, for example, inauthenticity in Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes will be seen through immediately – it is no longer enough to pay lip service to business ethics, it should be demonstrated, where opacity has been exchanged for transparency in our digital world.
Both the millennials and iGen are driven by their desire for individualism. As Professor Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology, San Diego State University, points out: ‘Millennials tend to have very positive views of themselves and they’re more likely to say that they’re above average compared with their peers. At the same time, they’re also more tolerant. These positive self-views are, more than likely, routed in individualism.’ This idea is also firmly rooted in Generation Z, where 80 per cent believe expressing themselves creatively is ‘important’ and 94 per cent see ‘being true to myself’ as a trait that they value. Like personal values, self-expression is important to the emerging workforce. When dismissed as entitlement or arrogance, as is often the case from Generation X and Baby Boomers, it serves to demonstrate disregard for the individual. In turn, this pushes those groups away to seek acceptance from another employer.