Over the last few years, millennials have been in the spotlight for many reasons. At work in particular, much has been discussed about them: their goals, their ambitions, their overall mindset. Yet there are so many enigmas still to solve.
How do we recruit the right talent when dealing with a generation that’s looking to expand its experiences constantly and job-hopping becoming the norm?
How do we motivate a generation with a personal mission statement of ‘making the world a better place’?
How do we combat limited attention spans – which, by the way, a study by Microsoft, found was down to eight seconds from 12 in the year 2000- to keep them engaged? Exactly. That’s my point made. Most of us still don’t know how to.
You only have to take a peek at our recent research around the most googled workplaces searches online to realize this:
- Only in 2017 the phrase ‘what do millennials want at work?’ was searched 3,100 times in the UK.
- In the US, on the other hand, ‘how do millennials want to work and live?’ increased from zero searches in 2015 to 15,900 in 2016 and 13,400 in 2017.
Conclusion: there’s something we’re not getting right. We still don’t quite “get” millennials. And considering that by 2050 millennials will make up half or more of our global workforce…I suggest we take a step back and evaluate.
Stop the stereotyping
We often find ourselves stereotyping people we see completely different to us. Science says we do this because it’s cognitive efficient – once we have categorized, we no longer need to consider information about each individual member of the group.
But our biggest problem with millennials is that we haven’t quite got our heads around who they are or what they want, so we often find ourselves contradicting each other about them.
For example, our recent research shows that: ‘Why are millennials so depressed?’ is the UK’s most searched question online by keyword ‘millennials’ with an average of 2,800 searches over the last year.
But in the US, ‘Why are millennials so lazy?’ tops the online searches of the last three years (2015-17) with an average of 2,227 searches per year.
Can millennials really be categorized as both lazy and depressed simultaneously? Tricky…
The crux of the matter
Instead, join me to look at the bigger picture, because there’s something more interesting to realize from the above. Millennials at work – and outside it – want different sort of incentives to the ones we’re used to, and that’s what’s constantly disconcerting us.
For them it’s not only about the money, the company name and/or their job title like it once was for us. It’s about having a sense of purpose and fulfilling it.
‘Being happy’ isn’t an employment perk for them, it’s the result of holding a career that’s rewarding. They place a strong emphasis on finding a job that is truly fulfilling. One that offers them the opportunity to grow, learn and have a future.
When that doesn’t happen, they become unhappy, unmotivated and start focusing just on making money or getting through their day so that they can get on with outside interests.
As a result, they may come across as lazy or depressed. We need to realize this and evolve, adapt to the needs of the new generations. Building relationships, practicing proper communication, and creating transparency, will help.
Everyone is different but one thing’s for sure, stereotyping and/or complaining won’t solve the problem…though nor will searching for the answer on Google!
About the author: Chieu Cao, Co-founder, and CMO at Perkbox; the UK’s fastest growing employee benefits provider.