They will make up 64 per cent of the workforce by 2025, yet neither has meaningful memories – or perhaps any – of a time before the internet became essential social infrastructure for an increasingly on-demand culture.
The upside beats the downside
Also known as generation Y, Millennials’ social media profiles are in high demand among employers seeking to attract and retain their skills – and employers can be unflattering.
Demographer and speaker Claire Madden says her research reveals generations Y and Z have some advantages over previous generations – and some disadvantages. Constant engagement with social media and consuming content across multiple screens has disrupted their interpersonal skills and has intensified the phenomenon known as “fear of missing out”, which can lead to distraction throughout the day. However, combined with what may be perceived as their mental agility, this fear gives them great potential to improve business processes.
“They bring unique strengths that previous generations haven’t developed, like digital competency and their ability to learn and adapt on the go,” Madden says. “However, they’ve got some areas which are underdeveloped, like their face-to-face communication skills – but they also know that.”
Millennials at work
Digital natives are accustomed to the empowering nature of the internet and the voice it has given them. They are also less concerned with job security than they are with gaining enjoyment from their work, Madden says. This means they look to work for businesses with a vision and a culture that understands their need for proximity to its leadership and innovation processes.
“That culture of innovation can be facilitated and these younger generations have been immersed in it from birth.”Demographer and speaker Claire Madden
“That culture of innovation can be facilitated and these younger generations have been immersed in it from birth,” Madden explains. “The world has changed so much and if they move into an environment that’s static it’s very foreign to them.”
Workplace culture consultant Lexie Wilkins agrees that companies which adopt a more inclusive innovation culture produce happier and more motivated staff, and are more productive over the long term. Wilkins is fond of a quote from author and Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan, Jane Dutton: “Energy is the fuel that makes great organisations run.”
However, Wilkins argues that achieving effective cultural change in business is not always easy, and the ultimate responsibility for it lies with management. One of the best ways to start, she says, is with trust.
“Communication, communication and more communication can assist with this. When the workforce understands the intentions and intended outcomes of a culture-change program, the steps that are being taken and the contingencies in place, they will be more likely to buy in,” Wilkins says.
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