The subject and I guess phenomena of keeping a lid on Millennials in the work place has always been an interesting subject to me and is a point of discussion for companies wondering how to stop them from leaving before their seats are barely warm.
As a 93 baby, I'm right in the thick of it having only been a graduate for 2 years. According to the general consensus Millennials want instant gratification, to feel like they are making an impact and have grown up expecting trophies for participation to name just a few. This is true and I will be the first person to admit that I relate to some of those factors. However, as a direct result of those characteristics society also says I will be hard to manage, entitled and the least engaged in the work place.
I have admitted that I do stereotypically want that instant gratification, to have a purpose/make an impact in what I do and get the trophies for my efforts as soon as possible. The only difference is I see those characteristics as positives rather than negatives which have in fact inspired me to retreat from the corporate ladder and become an entrepreneur like many of my fellow Gen Y peers. The truth is, a million more articles, Ted talks and conferences defining what a Millennial is to your company and why you should be outraged are doing nothing but help organisations lose more time and money. A whole generation is not going to change any time soon. If anything, with increased social media exploitation and technology it is only going to get 'worse' so why not start riding the wave? I would encourage companies to start embracing these attributes rather than fighting them and I'm going to tell you why using two typical examples.
I noticed one thing that has always been said to me in the workplace is "you always want to run before you can walk Joanna". What does this even mean though? surely if I'm already wanting to run then the results I will produce for my employer will at least be at speed walking pace if I am just left to flourish. Perhaps because I come from a culture of instant likes, my natural mindset is to want to see results straight away in my work making me always wonder what's next in my progress, but this is not supported and majorly stifled by companies. There's an unwritten rule in a lot of businesses that people should not even be sniffing around more advanced levels of their jobs until they have been doing it for at least X amount of years so if you want to know why your Millennials are quitting, here is the first one. Millennials believe more so that progression should be based on tested ability as well as 'timely experience' more often and if this was the case they wouldn't feel the need to jump from job to job for that progression.
Admittedly, patience is not our strong point and if there is no opportunity to work towards that gratification soon, we will go elsewhere. I believe this is why well structured graduate schemes and "fast track" opportunities are so highly competitive amongst new graduates as the value is clearer.
Closely linked to my last point on progression, Millennials are apparently brought up to believe they should receive trophies even just for participation. It's quite obvious that incentives are an important factor for this generation no matter how small and should not be overlooked.
I was the overly keen kid straight out of University looking around at my first job already thinking about my promotion before I even knew where my desk was. However on one occasion, instead of shaming me as a 'narcissistic Millennial' I had a senior member of an organisation recognise that rather than just being full of myself, I had drive. As a result they set me some targets and boxes to tick which I achieved and got a promotion within months of my start date. I'm not naive enough to say its black and white and every new grad should get a promotion straight away as in my case, but a trophy doesn't have to be in the form of a promotion. Having an impact is important to this generation and It is under estimated how effective it can be to make a Millennial feel like they are not just another number and there is a point of them being at work other than money. I get a sense that the generation before pride themselves on how long it took them to work their way up the food chain and how this demonstrates their work ethic. The blunt truth is, Millennials are the exact opposite and would rather pride themselves on how quickly they moved up the food chain; probably so they can brag about it on social media. The problem is, companies don't provide the support to let us do this if we have the work ethic to set ourselves apart. As my fellow candidate Sajan Shah once said, if you at least "give them the fruits, they'll make the juice".
As the youngest candidate on this year's Apprentice, I can say even the two characteristics discussed have helped drive me to start my own business. I can get that thrill I crave in seeing instant gratification as projects grow and I can set my own standards of progression based on how hard I work and not the sometimes limited bar someone else has set regardless of my enthusiasm and hard work. It's no accident that we have such a massive and young start up culture in 2017 - its easier than ever to set up a business and the new generation are willing to re-write their own rules on company culture. Your young employee's parents brought them up to idealistically believe they are 'special' and can do and be whatever they want to, so they don't expect to walk into the working world and be told they can't in fact achieve heights because theres a long timeline before there's opportunity to better themselves. I use myself as an example - I started a part time masters degree in business while working full time just to fast track myself as I knew the mentoring or guidance wouldn't come internally in an organisation when I wanted my next promotion. We usually talk about glass ceilings for women, but nothing creates an apathetic Millennial worker more than a slow paced work place.
I challenge companies to flip this view of our future leaders on its head and start mentoring and encouraging Millennials to chase those trophies as soon as they want to without being called narcissistic or entitled.