All too often businesses place too much emphasis on how employees must impress them, not the other way around. Whether it is recruitment, promotions or even day-to-day practice; employees are always pressured to perform for the good of the company. But what about how the company performs for the individual? This differentiation is key to understanding the Millennial workforce and their approach. Working hard is a usually a given amongst those born since 1982 and they also have an expectation of their employer to engage, enable and empower them and reflect values they believe in. 

Each generation in the workforce has their own personality traits and, as such, preferences for how they like to be treated, trained and assessed. Unless a business can get to know their employees like any one of us would a good friend, they are likely to not manage their team effectively. 

The following five factors shed light on the characteristics of the Millennial generation and the corresponding workplace initiatives that appeal to them. 

Feedback is fundamental

Millennials now form a large percentage of the average workforce. Therefore, managing performance through regular feedback is critical to overall success. The timing, frequency and method for delivering feedback impacts their attitude, performance and progress. This stems from the fact that Millennials are open to constructive criticism as a means for self-reflection and improvement. In the corporate scenario, Millennials thrive in a team where they can build relationships, bounce ideas and learn from each other. They therefore value the feedback of their peers as highly as they managers. As such, a 360-degree evaluation that flows horizontally and vertically is conducive to a successful team dynamic.

Greater options

Monotony and repetition is a recipe for disaster in the workplace. In order to keep Millennials engaged in their job they must be stimulated and inspired. Variety, to a great extent, is the key to success. A day at work no longer fits the 9 to 5 bill. Now, employees want greater options in their work hours, location and subject. They want the option to fit their work hours in around their personal lives and are keen to work outside of the office and stay connected via technology. The combination of social media and workplace productivity tools like video conferencing makes remote working less of an inconvenience and more of the new norm. 

Work/life flexibility 

Millennials do not see a work/life balance as a privilege. They believe it is a right. Previous generations were willing to work well beyond their 40-hour week as they strived to reach their potential and aspirations.. In contrast, Millennials are not convinced that early-career sacrifices are worth the potential rewards. A Millennial Branding study reported that 45% of Millennials would choose workplace flexibility over pay. As a result, employers must come to terms with their role in accommodating space in their priorities and deadlines for their employees to take a break! 

Making an impression

One of the biggest fears felt by Millennials is to be overlooked or be viewed as ‘just another cog in the machine’. Employees want to build a career with a company that allows them to make an impact on their surroundings. They do not shy away from opportunities to use their initiative, make decisions and guide strategy. This goes beyond the four walls of the office. Millennials feel a responsibility to their community and want to work for an organisation with a conscience. By liberating employees to make an impact, both the business and the community will feel the benefits.

Community spirit

Where someone chooses to work says a lot about them. As a result, employees want to be proud of the business they contribute to and feel the company’s values reflect their own. As such, Millennials are attracted to businesses with a proactive attitude to corporate social responsibility. Employees don’t work just for a pay cheque anymore, they want to make a difference in the world and collaborate with their colleagues to push for bigger and better ideas. A successful business will harness this enthusiasm and channel Millennials to do good work inside and outside the office. 

It is clear that the Millennial generation is changing the mindset of the workforce. Therefore, businesses must recognise the importance of creating an environment they want to work in. It must be a two-way street of effort between employee and employer in order to nurture Millennials and help them thrive. 

The combination of ambition, enthusiasm, conscience and confidence, if harnessed correctly, could add substantial value to any workplace.

Prithvi Shergill, CHRO at HCL Technologies

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Prithvi Shergill is the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at HCL Technologies. He heads the HR team and partners with senior leadership to shape business strategy, identify human capital implications, and design and deploy people practices to enhance performance and productivity. Prithvi is a professional with over 20 years of experience. Prior to joining HCL in April 2012, Prithvi was a Partner at Accenture.