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Let me tell you about Millennial so-called ‘disloyalty’.

You know what I’m talking about… the job-hopping tendencies of this generation, (also known as Gen Y, born roughly between 1981-95) whose CVs and resumes often read like fusion cuisine menus.

What looks like a problem with retention is to misjudge or simply misunderstand this generation’s values. In other words… this is not so much a problem with Millennials’ ‘disloyalty’ as a problem of Millennials’ ‘disengagement’.

This is a generation that values impact, experiences and profound self-development. And they are a generation in a hurry. Why wouldn’t they be? A whole world of information and potential experiences has opened up to them, thanks to the technology they so confidently use. Meanwhile, the online landscape where all of the opportunities exist, is at their finger tips.

Remember also, this generation is nomadic and tribal. They love travelling and experiencing new cultures, and are constantly swapping information with each other, sharing good and bad experiences, letting peers know which new skills, self-development strategies and chances to grow – professionally and personally – are around the corner.

Of course, for established, legacy companies, led by older generations for whom a reasonable pay cheque, stability and predictability of environment, were enough to expect from a job… these tendencies, and the urge to move on to new pastures after only a short stint with a company, represents a considerable loss in terms of training and investing in Gen Y.

But the fact remains… Millennials were not brought up to be satisfied with mere job stability, predictability and a pay cheque. Their parents and teachers, growing up, taught them to expect great things of themselves, and to be constantly on the alert for the next chance to manifest something significant.

And until the Great Recession of 2008, when the first Millennials were about to enter the workforce, these bold visions of having great impact in their lives, remained unchallenged.

Flash forward to today, and many Millennials have experienced the disillusionment and burnout from that period: the debt, the lack of jobs, the inflexibility of the working world, the financial inability to move up the social ladder…

But this doesn’t mean Gen Y’s values have changed. They still yearn for peak experiences, a chance to unleash their expectation to impact the world through their work and to grow and lead as soon as possible.

And catering for these values should matter to companies, because most statistical predictions place Millennials as the largest generational cohort in today’s job market, worldwide.

So, the first piece of advice I offer companies that want to retain Gen Y hires is… give them a clear picture of their career prospects within the organisation.

In other words, traditional, vertically-organised, top-down, command and control companies need to let new Millennial hires know how and when they will rise through the ranks of the organisation (remember also that Millennials prefer horizontal organisational structures).

Given that the Baby Boomer generation (born over 1946-64) still lead several legacy companies, and Boomers’ own values include basing self-worth on long work hours, titles and accomplishment… it can seem to Millennial hires that their own chances to be promoted, exercise influence and impact are likely to be delayed indefinitely.

But there are ways to accommodate the experience of Boomers, (and Gen Xers – born roughly 1965-80!) while satisfying the desire for impact of Millennials.

One solution is to give Gen Y recruits a clear roadmap of their career journey within an organisation, including criteria and timelines for rising in leadership roles.

Tell them at the hiring interview and during the on-boarding process and remind them at feedback sessions thereafter, where they fit in the structure of the company and how their ability to serve and impact clients will evolve and grow as they continue with the organisation.

Too many organisations leave recruits in the dark as to how the organisation will advance their career beyond an income. A progress roadmap signals to Millennials that, just like in their childhood, their workplace is invested in opening new professional doors for them the longer they remain.

I will explore the next factor to help retain Millennials – giving them ownership and encouraging their input – in my next post.

To learn more about my corporate training services and to book a free consultation, please visit: www.leonidasalexandrou.com/services/evolution/

“Put your smartphone down, when I’m speaking to you!”

Did you assume the hypothetical person with the phone was… a young person? Perhaps even… a Millennial?

Also known as a member of Gen Y, born (roughly 1981-95), stereotyped as self-absorbed young professionals, preferring to edit Instagram photos than pick up the phone to clients?

(That really IS a stereotype, by the way.)

To answer the question… the person absorbed in using their smartphone could have been of any age.

From a Millennial to a Gen Zer (the generation born roughly 1996 to 2000), to Gen Xers, Boomers and members of the Silent Generation, too.

Almost EVERY generation by this point, whether in or out of the office, has discovered the benefits of, and formed a certain level of dependency on, their smart device of choice.

Why? Chiefly because of the convenience such devices provide, but even more because of the connection, and the empowering feeling of having a say in shaping that connection.

Which brings me to the point of this post… Purpose. More specifically: Millennials’ demand for and near-religious devotion to it, whether in or out of the workplace.

So great is their need to find purpose in their work, accuse their critics, that Gen Y will walk away from perfectly well-paid, stable jobs, leaving expensive vacancies for HR to re-fill after spending only a relatively short period of time with a company.

Yet… if we are honest… EVERY generation of workers appreciates meaningful employment, and for their efforts to have a purpose beyond profit. Why? Because this is a very human need, no matter how old or young we may be.

It’s just that… unlike Gen Y, older generations were born in more authoritarian and less-technologically-empowered times. Eras where you earned your dues over time, and a J.O.B. was perfectly acceptable – even if all it did was pay the rent and put food on the table, and wasn’t going to win you a Pulitzer prize or reinvent the toothbrush.

Millennials, on the other hand, were brought up with a very different picture of the world and their role in it.

Gen Y were taught by parents and teachers that they would change the world, and were groomed to expect to be agents of innovation. So, given their relative youth and ambition, not to mention, their ease in creatively collaborating with peers, finding ‘purpose’ in their work is a ‘luxury’ they believe they can afford, while staying in a job without ‘purpose’ appears a far greater threat to their future longterm.

This can certainly be a headache for HR departments, tasked with filling job positions that might have been retained by recruits of older generations, not to mention, spending time and money retraining replacements.

But it’s just as much an important warning sign to a company itself, that perhaps it’s not as aligned with its original vision as it needs to be.

Or perhaps that it needs a different ‘Why’ in Simon Sinek’s words, beyond merely turning a profit.

After all, Millennials are not just potential employees, but customers and consumers, too. Their perspectives on what is important, their values and their unique approach to work and life, can neither be ignored nor dismissed.

Meanwhile, retention headache or not, we can all stand to benefit from their desire to make time, creativity, education and effort count towards a meaningful initiative.

Because finding purpose, just like the ease and connectivity offered by smartphones, is something that ultimately appeals to every generation.

To learn more about my corporate training services and to book a free consultation, please visit: www.leonidasalexandrou.com/services/evolution/

Why is it that sometimes, the thing that we want most, actually backfires on us, and can even make us miserable?

At this point, it is well-documented that Millennial or Gen Y employees truly value flexibility in the workplace and are unafraid to ask for it…

And yet… if they are given such flexibility, the additional pressure to manage their time while continuing to manage their social and personal lives, often proves overwhelming to them, leading to the stress and burn-out that this generation is experiencing at epidemic levels….

Let me give these thoughts a bit of context.

I’ve been a corporate trainer and a mentor for almost two decades. Over this time, I’ve seen the values and working preferences of several generations, up close and personal.

And what I have observed of Gen Y or Millennial workers (i.e. those born between 1981 to roughly 1995), they greatly value being able to structure their work around their other life interests. The famous ‘work-life balance’ that managers complain about and which their Gen Y colleagues continue to demand.

Now, this makes complete sense when you consider Millennials came of age during the rise of the internet, apps and smartphones, designed to harness online power to organise and carry out everyday life tasks in a matter of clicks.

But…

Unlike the generations before them, specifically their Boomer and Gen X bosses and managers… Millennials have had less practice in deliberately limiting themselves, their options – and in particular, their time.

They have had incredibly structured lives growing up – structured by parents and teachers willing to provide them with the scheduling and support they needed, so that they could focus on their studies, their interests, their potential, their aspirations.

Flash forward to their working life today… and whenever work-related flexibility is granted to Millennials, their professional tasks and deadlines end up competing with the parallel opportunity for them to explore and participate in lifestyle options older generations were not distracted by… simply because they didn’t exist!

Think about it… when you can identify, follow and participate in so many online forums, arrange dates, book workout classes, sign up for language classes and organise meet-ups for innovative collaborations… it’s far harder to set yourself the kind of limits that return your focus to meeting work-related goals.

What happens next is that Millennials try to do both – i.e. carry out professional tasks while SIMULTANEOUSLY managing their personal and leisure time, leading to overwhelm, stress and, often, dramatic burnout.

So, how should managers of Millennials respond?

Should they simply take flexible working hours off the table for their Gen Y employees? Or should they cave in, despite the time management challenges, hoping in this way, to retain a job-hopping generation of workers?

As it happens, the answer is… neither.

Flexibility of work is a GOOD thing. And more and more, I believe we will only see more need for it and it’s unwise to eliminate it as an option.

Rather, to get the best from their Gen Y team, managers need to keep flexibility on the table IN ADDITION to making it very clear about what they will STILL be required to carry out (and by WHEN) in terms of work.

Managers need to zero in on the deadlines and the deliverables, and let Gen Y know they will support them in setting an appropriate timeline, preferably with key milestones, to help them handle the challenges of distraction and overwhelm.

In other words, managers today have to wear two hats: one as the authority who keeps Gen Y on task… the other as the coach who ‘supports’ and guides them in implementing healthy time management.

I elaborate on how managers can support their Gen Y team in this way, in an online course I am currently developing, called Millennial Advantage. More about this course in future posts!

For now, let me end by saying that: if you, as a manager, are willing to go the extra mile for your Millennial teammates by facilitating and helping them manage their desired flexibility… they will reward you with a truly innovative ability to think outside the box, act as ambassadors of your organisation among their peers, and use their comfort with tech-based work to better serve your clients.

To learn more about my corporate training services and to book a free consultation, please visit: www.leonidasalexandrou.com/services/evolution/