Earlier this year Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. released its third annual Millennial Survey, and at first the findings worried me. According to the survey, 70 percent of millennials across the globe “reject” what traditionally organized business has to offer. Here we go again, I thought. Just another reason for leadership to think Gen Y is entitled, their way or the highway. But as I dug into the data, I realized the findings aren’t a bad thing, they’re a good thing. They should be an eye-opener for leaders resisting change.
Here are some other numbers I found interesting:
- 78 percent of millennials are influenced by how innovative a company is when deciding if they want to work there, but most say their current employer does not greatly encourage them to think creatively.
- They believe the biggest barriers to innovation are management attitude (63 percent), operational structures and procedures (61 percent), and employee skills, attitudes and (lack of) diversity (39 percent).
- 75 percent of millennials believe their organizations could do more to develop future leaders.
I interviewed Bill Pelster, principal of Deloitte Consulting, who agreed with me that organizations need to understand that the world of work is changing. What millennials want — innovation, opportunities to grow and develop, mentors — aren’t overly demanding. They’re what every organization needs to succeed. Below are excerpts from an interview we had where we discussed how to harness Gen Y’s energy and enthusiasm for growth and development.
Based on your findings, what do you find millennials want from work?
Pelster: Millennials view the world of work differently than other generations in the workforce. They want work that is fulfilling, continues their personal development journey, challenging and consistent with their core values. Millennials generally value safety and security of a job less than other generations.
Why the change from other generations?
Pelster: All generations generally want what the millennials want, but what is different is the priority placed by millennials on development and core values versus, for example, a safe and secure job. Millennials are more inclined to take risks and change jobs much more quickly than other generations. Additionally, what we find in our HC Trends report for 2014 is that millennials will potentially change jobs every two to three years as they search for new developmental opportunities.
Is it up to organizations to cater to this?
Pelster: It is important that organizations realize that millennials are looking to constantly gain new experiences and push their development. This means that organizations need to think through the velocity of developmental opportunities and the potential need to “re-recruit” millennials on a regular basis. Failure to do this will potentially lead to higher than expected turnover and more pressure on your recruiting organization to constantly source and on-board new talent.
Say you’re a leader in an organization, and you find out your millennial workforce has these demands. How do you decide what’s worth changing and what isn’t?
Pelster: I think this is the wrong question because it assumes that what millennials value is open for debate. Instead, the better question to ask is, “how do I harness the energy and enthusiasm for growth and development that millennials bring?” The approach I would encourage my colleagues to think about is to actively align millennials with key projects and mentors so that they are challenged and have an accelerated growth experience. This is good for the organization and the millennials.
How do you keep other generations engaged and satisfied in the process?
Pelster: Organizations that can create a strong mentorship culture where each generation is helping to develop the next generation is one way to actively engage with all generations and create value in the organization.
We’ve seen a lot of change during the past few years, and a lot of organizations are still trying to figure out how to decipher Gen Y’s wants and needs. Are we going to sit still for a while now, or do you see more change on the horizon?
Pelster: What we see in our latest Human Capital Trends report data is that the world of work today, which we are calling the 21St Century Employee, is fundamentally different. It is hyper-connected, there are high levels of disruption, talent has a constant need to reinvent itself and there is a general feeling of being overwhelmed which has created an environment where standing still is not an option. This is the new normal and there is no pause button. The challenge for learning organizations is to have the confidence to meet the level of change and disruption that is impacting the business.