How to get the most out of a millennial – a millennial’s perspective

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Gen Y and Z. These generations have captured the interest of generations past like no other. From their strong beliefs to their challenging of status quo, they are unique. Both are the future, especially of our country where they account for almost 70% of the population. Soon they will take over the workforce. We asked Aamer Khan, a young post millennial to give us his perspective on what companies, including Fabtech, should be doing to adapt to the needs of this demographic. Here’s what he had to say.
Alan Dias, Head of HR

In the recent past, there has been a surge of millennials and post-millennials in the workforce – let’s call them ‘young outsiders’ for easier reference and also because they are often misunderstood. So, why this surge? While it may seem the previous demographic is rapidly reaching retirement age, or employers bringing in new blood and fresh ideas into the office, this isn’t so. The key reason for this surge of young talent is that over 70% of Indians are under the age of 40, and of these 35% are of working age, making this particular segment critical for the growth of our country.

Both generations have grown up in a digital, hyper-connected world, and as a result, seek instant gratification in everything they do. While older millennials have experienced the before and after of the digital revolution, Gen Z knows no other way of life. The most significant example is Google – everyone depends on it for the information they seek. A young outsider has no comprehension of how easy it has become to accomplish tasks today as compared to the past. From looking up words in a dictionary to googling it in seconds, from spending hours in a library looking for research material to instantly finding multiple sources online, from filing important papers to storing them on the cloud, the digital switch has impacted everyone. Young outsiders are living this revolution and using it to their advantage. They are not just participants in this change but have emerged its undisputed leaders.

Not all of the young outsiders are the same, but for this article, we will simplify, and I hope my generation will excuse this generalisation. Young outsiders are inquisitive questioners and norm challengers who see past the daily grind. Employers are keen to understand what makes them tick, and many of them are eager to include their thought processes in their team. Not that employers have the upper hand here as this demographic cohort isn’t like any that came before. Millennials and post-millennials, like any other generation, have expectations of their employers. But they also come with a unique, quirky, and often confusing (to generations past) set of expectations before they even consider joining a company.

So from a Young Outsider, here are the ways in which you can harness the best of the young outsiders you have on your team and those you want to join your company.

Listen to their ideas
When young outsiders contribute ideas in meetings or discussions, their thoughts may occasionally be impractical but they will never believe them impossible. Their only limitations are their thought processes and abundant imaginations. They want to be heard and acknowledged. The workforce and most companies are, in fact, in dire need of out-of-the-box, revolutionary ideas that no one has thought of. So pay attention to what they have to say, just like IDEO, a US-based global design company does. When designing a product, the top management at IDEO takes a step back and lets employees of the company come up with product ideas. The best ones are selected with votes, and a prototype is developed within a day or two. At this stage, the leader of the process or the top management steps in to select the prototype that will be used. The concept adopted by IDEO is simple, effective, and one that taps maximum creativity from employees. The result? Happy employees and a successful company. All it takes is for someone to listen.

Trust wins over anyone
I want to illustrate this with a story. I was chosen to intern with a company I had wanted to for the longest time. It was a relatively small company and probably why there were no gaps in communication between the ranks. A week before I joined, I received a call from the CEO himself. He said he wanted to meet me. I was surprised and hesitant – he was the CEO after all, and I was just an intern – but agreed to meet at a nearby mall. We met and talked for close to two hours in the crowded food court. After we finished with lunch and his welcome, he explained his request. He asked for the meeting so he could get to know me. He said, “There is no hierarchy as there is no control over another in our firm. However, there is one thing common between all my employees and me, be it an intern or a known associate – I trust them. This meeting has confirmed that your ideologies match ours and that I can trust you. I am ready to share whatever information you request about the company, even financial.” As he said this, a sense of loyalty towards him set in. He did not make me sign a contract. This was the level of trust we had in each other, and I still feel very close to the company, despite my internship taking place two years ago. Trust wins over anyone, and it has been proven several times over in history.

Freedom, guidance and path
If you capture their interest, young outsiders will seek to be involved in as much as they possibly can in the company they work for. They want to be able to make a significant and meaningful change in their organisation if they are given liberty. They want to rise and fall with a firm. Everyone works for their betterment at the end of the day, but here is the twist. If you convince a young outsider that they are a part of something much bigger than themselves, they will devote all their capabilities in helping you achieve your goals. They need a mentor, a person to give them the right direction. They want guidance but at the same time the freedom to carve their own path. Give them their time and only be there to course correct when they go astray. Give them freedom and watch them soar.

Work and social life balance
Millennials and post-millennials want a balance between work and social life. Gone are the days of companies and bosses insisting on 10-12 hour workdays and 6-7 day weeks with the odd, grudging holiday thrown in. Young outsiders won’t tip the scales of work-life balance in either direction but will always chase balance in both. They want to earn a living at a job they love and be able to spend time with their friends and family. They want to avoid more than anything else, a life filled with regrets. So, how should an employer deal with this? An adequate amount of responsibility – not more work and definitely not less work. The right amount. The right amount to get the recognition, so work-life balance is not just words on paper. If you can offer them flexible timings or even remote work opportunities, even better. Give them their creative space and channel their energies to get the most out of them. Long gone are the times when it was necessary to come to the office to get work done. Change with the times, be a bit more open to the idea of being able to work from the comfort of your own home. Even great people started from their garages, not offices.

Make sure these young outsiders think of themselves as entrepreneurs in your company. Make them intrapreneurs and watch as they bring about positive change. It is a fact, not an opinion. They view your company from a different perspective; probably one conventional wisdom will never be able to see. Nurture them enough so you reap the benefits. It is your job as an employer to make sure they stick around. It is not giving in to their needs; it is catering to your own.