Our interactions with a cross section of millennials lead us to observe that in India basic needs and our emotional/psychological make-up does not change over time.
OCEAN is the popular acronym to describe the Big 5 personality theory (O-stands for Openness, C- Conscientiousness, E-Extraversion, A- Agreeableness and N-Neuroticism).
We believe that this theory, used since 1961, is still relevant today. We also deduced that the type of industry an organisation belongs to plays a large part (along with its people) in the shaping of its culture and adaptability to technological change.
What is then the need for a special focus on millennials?
Well, the answer is – the way they work. Their expectations from work and leaders, their response to technological change and their requirement/style/approach for group work varies from Gen X.
They are contributing strongly to organisations productivity, technological advancement and to its agility. Therefore, organisations need to understand them in order to build an environment where they can survive and thrive, ensuring the longevity of the organization.
How are millennials different from Gen X?
This workforce can be viewed as one which consists of a large number of people willing to try out new things, take risks, possibly not be as structured or disciplined, more socially active through technology, thereby showing a tendency to be more IT dependant rather than people oriented.
However, we saw that the dependence on people increased if in the organization, there was a dependence on tacit knowledge for quality of deliverables.
What changes Millennials envisage by 2025?
Our interactions with millennials and with people who have been working with millennials in this age across industries such as manufacturing, engineering and information technology have given us some interesting insights
1. Sea of changes due to technology to be seen by 2025:
- Virtual world would be the way of working. The higher dependency on technology can impact efficiency and pace of work.
- Digitalization would reduce dependence of business processes on human intervention and make majority of the processes streamlined and “error-proof”.
- Collaborative technologies will make everything and everyone interconnected and provide more options to work remotely.
2. Workplace policies to change/modify to ensure sustainability of millennials in workplace
Some of the expectations voiced out included:
- Performance and Skill based Reward will continue to be the demand of this workforce with emphasis on Innovation. Technology will make performance metrics more precise and measurable. This paves the way for a more transparent and fair reward and assessment system
- Individual-centric solutions (e.g.: Support for Work from Home/Flexible work options/part time work/ freelancing/policies to support family planning, childcare) would be the features of more progressive organisations. In fact, organisations may not own their space. The workforce could be given the option to work from ‘booked’ space in open working facilities (like WeWork) and progressively use shared office space. This is akin to the current use of commuting options (e.g.: like Uber/Ola culture)
3. Changes in Leadership profiles:
- With the advancement of technology and advent of digital transparency, hierarchy will be something of the past. There will be flatter structures and access to all levels. What a person can share and how he can support will be more important than what his position is.
- Independent decision making, supported by data, would be the call of the day.
- Though Leaders would still be required to have strong domain knowledge, the key leadership quality required will be the ability to relate to all levels in the organisation.
- Leaders would have to be comfortable working with virtual teams, giving as well as receiving timely feedback and providing support
Change is inevitable!
Organizations in order to ensure that they can retain their millennial talents, will need to catch up with changes already happening as well as anticipate and implement quickly further changes on the way.
7 major changes
1. While technology will make the world a smaller place, efforts have to be put in to develop “people management skills” and enhance “emotional quotient”. Virtual communication brings greater complexity along with its speed and easy accessibility.
2. Average age of leaders will drop as “Leadership” will no longer be defined by “hierarchy” but by “quality of experience”, “skills”, “competencies”. Be ready for younger entrepreneurs to be identified and respected as the new leaders.
3. This workforce will have a higher requirement of “Work life balance”. Millennials will look for variety of engaging interests, including CSR right in their workplace. Organisations should not misread this attitude towards work as they know the importance of deadlines and quality work.
4. What is considered as benefits in today’s times may well be mere hygiene factors in the future. For example – support for family planning (IVF, embryo harvesting), childcare solutions, onsite childcare, health facilities, coaching and fresh food dispensers.
5. Due to rapid technology transitions including IoT, there is a worry, that millennials would experience a great degree of uncertainty. Organizations therefore need to be aware of this and support the millennials in this transition.
6. Organizations would introduce location tracking of users on WiFi to track, monitor work hours and simultaneously there will be more emphasis on securing networks for identity theft protection.
7. The entrenchment of Artificial Intelligence in every aspect of work life, will make certain aspects of current job roles redundant. It will influence decision patterns. Whilst at the same time supporting HR in providing information at the right time at the right place.
In conclusion, organisations should re-look at their policies for promotions and rewards. This is because the millennial workforce is impatient for growth and rewards. Consequently, companies should also invest in the constant upskilling of their workforce.
2025 is not too far away and organisations should carefully review where they are today and plan to execute changes to meet challenges ahead both in terms of external environment and internal employee expectations, keeping themselves lean and efficient.
One should not forget that a newer set up of workforce is creeping into the organization (Gen Z). This will have its own challenges. But this is the way of life and maybe another topic of discussion…
Ms Sujatha Patel, Senior Vice President of Human Resources & Ms Sanjukta Ray, Senior Manager of Human Resources, thyssenkrupp India