“Millennials”: Culture, Technology and Aspirations

When we cannot change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves-Victor Frankl, “Man’s search for meaning”

We want to know more about the next generation, a generation that has suffered less maybe than previous generations because it lives in a modern society thtat doesn’t know war as it once was – as Michel Serres was saying in his manifesto for the young generation “Thumbelina”.

Millennials (Generation Y) are the young born between the beginning of the 90′ and the initial years of the new millennium. Somehow there is a stereotype about Millennials and it is not all positive. In my opinion it is unfair to measure Millennials and their behaviour with the same yardstick used for past generations; each generation changes the world somehow and Millennials are all a transformative generation. They “inhabit” most of the time a virtual world, have access to so many people across geographies and cultures, invent a new language on-the-go and write any kind of message with dizzying speed.

Millennials will design the future as they see fit; meanwhile they offer the world their knowledge, understanding and advanced abilities usually narrowed down to very specific areas. In their book “Generation Y Now” Buddy Hobart and Herb Sendek explain that while in the past new employees were not expected to know more about any activity than their employer or boss, nor were they equiped with a set of abilities immediately applicable at work, this is certainly not the case for Millennials.

According to Hobart and Sendek, the Millennials bring the following extraordinary qualities to the workplace:

  • Millennials are well-educated and perfectly at ease with the most advanced new technology;
  • Millennials accept that they are different from each other and accept diversity in general; their social circles are independent from religion or ethnicity;
  • Millennials understand the global market and think beyond borders;
  • Millennials are independent and self-confident because that is how we raised them;
  • Millennials understand the client perspective and the marketplace because we have allowed them to make their own choices from a young age, though that might have been as little as choosing between Burger King and MacDonalds.

Paraphrasing Victor Frankl’s words, companies are challenged to change and to adapt to the new generation – perhaps less now, but certainly more in the future. Hobart and Sendek have made some suggestions regarding the integration and retention of Millennials.

To start with, first impressions count and, for MIllennials, this means that there need to be seen as individuals and to have personal contact with peers and colleagues; bureaucracy and paperwork are unusual for them and might be perceived as overwhelming. They expect to know what is expected from them and also expect to do meaningful work, for themselves and for the company.

A tip for good integration is to involve existing employees in the process. Tell them about the new generation; any educational process about the future of the company will work well both ways.

Other wasy to ensure retention include “job shadowing”, mentoring and reverse mentoring, i.e. a program in which Millennials are offered a chance to transfer their body of modern knowledge to their senior colleagues. Any honest exchange of ideas, free of judgement, is useful.

Various studies show that Millennials are motivated by the above-mentioned factors in a higher degree than they are motivated by traditional incentives and benefits. One interpretation is that by being self-reliant and seeking autonomy they are ready anytime to start their own business.

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