Millennials in the workplace

Millennials, a word used for those reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century, are an enigma to the older generations as they strive for both financial independence and personal fulfilment.
Research has shown that almost a quarter of all millennials are currently investing in a unit trust fund compared with only 2% in older generations. Their attitude to money also differs significantly and factors which influence their need for financial independence are:
  • Debt: Personal loans for consumables, e.g. clothes, appliances
  • Saving rather than investing: they often don’t understand that you need to invest to build wealth
  • Keeping up with the trends on social media: Spending too much on “wants” and not “needs”
It is estimated that by 2020, almost half of the workforce will be made up of millennials, and the biggest challenges for employers will be engaging and retaining them. They are no longer the youngest generation in the market and are starting to mature into older and higher-ranking professionals. Various independent reports in South Africa recently highlighted the following:
  • Over a quarter of millennials are expected to have six employers or more in their work life
  • They are looking for a good work/life balance and regard flexible working hours as one of the top benefits offered
  • Career progression was more important than competitive salaries
  • More than 70% indicated a desire to work overseas
  • Millennials hold about 20% of all leadership roles
  • Millennials feel strongly about diversity and development
With this in mind, employers need to find ways to retain their talented staff and some ways suggested are:
  • Technology: companies in tune with technology have better chances of attracting and retaining millennials.
  • Coaching: companies need to be committed to personal learning and development and give regular feedback and recognition to employees.
  • Honest about what they can offer: don’t promise what you can’t deliver as millennials are not afraid of changing jobs or even careers.
It is important to remember that the millennial generation is growing up impatient, as advances in technology have facilitated instant gratification. Retaining millennials may require companies to teach them personal and interpersonal skills such as communication, patience, coping with pressure and being a team player as unfortunately there isn’t an app for these skills.

As they get older and take more positions of leadership, millennials are going to have an even more pronounced effect on how the workplace develops in the near future. The good news is that no generation stays in power so long that the next generation can’t change things back, or progress things even further. Employers will need to start looking to Generation Z, working alongside Generation X and millennials, to drive changes in the workplace. Those organisations that are able to deliver the above will be more likely to attract and retain the best millennial and Generation Z employees and potentially strengthen their prospects for long-term success.

About Desiree Goodwin

Client Service Manager - Tax at Meredith Harington
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