How to manage Millennials in the workplace

Millennials value personal development and work-life balance over money and status, however, they are still ambitious and believe in their own ability to steer their career, according to a global research report.

Of the more than 16,000 respondents, 73 per cent chose work-life balance over a higher salary and 82 per cent value work-life balance over their position in a company. And unlike generations before them, 42 per cent agreed they would rather have no job than one they hate.

Most Millennials’ focus is to grow and learn new things (45 per cent) – the second most important goal in their life after work-life balance – while the biggest fear for 40 per cent of respondents globally is to get stuck in a job with no development opportunities.

“Millennials will constitute the majority of the workforce in just five to six years from now,” said Petter Nylander, CEO of Universum, which conducted the research in partnership with the INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) and the HEAD Foundation.

“From an employer branding perspective, companies that cater to the needs of Millennials will lead in attracting, recruiting and retaining them.”

The research, which was undertaken to better understand the many stereotypes of Millennials (born between 1984 and 1996) in the workplace, suggested a granular approach to managing and communicating to this generation is necessary for success.

The leadership aspirations of Millenials
The research report also found that becoming a leader or manager is a key career driver is very important for 41 per cent of Millennials, and the primary drivers for becoming a leader are money (35 per cent), influence (31 per cent) and the opportunity to have a strategic role (31 per cent).

For Millennials, the driver to become a leader is inward-focused, not related to the traditional leadership role of managing and coaching other employees.

While leadership is a key goal, the importance of titles varies greatly around the world. Although important in Africa, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Latin America, titles are unimportant in Central & Eastern Europe and irrelevant in North America and Western Europe. Younger Millennials care even less about titles than those born nearer to 1984.

As important as becoming a manager is, only 24 per cent strongly want a fast-track career with constant promotions.

“The availability of trained and committed talent continues to be among the major impediments to doing business in emerging markets,” said Vinika Rao, executive director, INSEAD EMI.

“It’s imperative to understand what influences the career decisions and leadership behavior of this much talked-about generation.”

What Millennials want from managers
Stark differences exist between regions in relation to the image of the perfect manager, and the research found empowerment is valued in North America, Western Europe and Africa, whereas fairness and expertise is key in Central & Eastern Europe.

Millennials in Latin America value a role model able to give advice and in the Middle East managers should have all the answers. Managers able to act as role models is an important expectation of younger Millennials and women.

When asked how often they expect to receive feedback on their performance from their manager, an average of 26 per cent expect weekly feedback. This climbs to 35 per cent in Central & Eastern Europe, 31 per cent in North America and 30 per cent in the Middle East.

This is a far cry from annual personal development plans, and the research found Millennials expect a high-touch approach to management.

Millennials view the world through rose tinted glasses; quite different to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. The friendliness of the people is the most important criterion of a future employers’ culture, chosen by 64 per cent of respondents. And their definition of diversity is cultural diversity (85 per cent).

Finally, only 8 per cent fear they will not get the chances they deserve because of their gender, and the report found this is even less of a concern for younger Millennials.

“By reaching out to a large number of respondents in these dynamic economies, this study provides an interesting comparison on millennial behavior in mature and emerging countries,” said Rao.

“It shows why over-simplified generalisations about them can prove dangerous to organisations and policy makers, and debunks some of the common perceptions about them.”