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How organizations cater to Millennials

By Mark Edgar


By 2025, the much discussed Millennial generation will make up 75 per cent of the workforce, making it more important than ever for businesses to ensure this group has what they need to succeed and stay “in the game.” They are an important community of change-makers that should not be overlooked. For HR professionals, this means that enabling a culture of adaptability and openness, while ensuring the employee experience is front and centre, should be priority number one.


Understanding the Millennial

While showing a wide range of diversity within the category, Millennials are well educated, technologically literate, confident and creative. They set high expectations for themselves, their peers and their workplaces. They are known for loving a work challenge as much as flexibility and work-life balance. They crave work that is meaningful and enjoy working for organizations that put people first by focusing on learning, growth, development and great relationships. Most importantly, this group represents the future of the workplace, with many of the older Millennials now taking on large leadership roles within organizations.


Bridging the divide

This need for work-life balance and a quick path to achievement combined with apparent outlandish confidence may be seen by some as a weakness. However, our world is changing, and fast. To keep pace, businesses must continue to innovate and stay relevant by adapting quickly. Savvy organizations know that this team-oriented mindset, need for balance and unique skill set make Millennials strong assets to the workplace.

But still, many businesses – particularly those that have been considered for years as more traditional in their approach to culture, still have a long way to go when it comes to fully leveraging this group.

So how can these organizations take steps towards truly embracing Millennials?

1. Avoid stereotypes

Every generation may share certain traits and habits. But it’s best to dismiss the often-negative outlook of Millennials as being entitled, lazy and unreliable. Each person is unique and brings different skills and talents to the table. Organizations must make a conscious effort to create a work environment that fosters inclusivity and individuality and one that breaks down stereotypes to ensure people grow and succeed based on their individual contributions.

2. Create community and provide opportunities for growth and development

Millennials’ thirst for development shouldn’t be restricted to expensive classroom training. They are looking for more experiential learning opportunities including stretch assignments and projects. Mentoring is another great opportunity to learn, particularly when you can create a mentoring loop where the mentee is getting equal value from the connection as the mentor. Creating a community among the generation and giving them a place to build relationships, discuss their challenges, their achievements and learn from other like-minded peers and leaders is another useful intervention. Meeting groups like the Millennial Crusade with Christine Burych from Starlingbrook Leadership help to find common ground between generations and provide opportunities for learning and growth. If senior leaders value it, others will, too.

3. Lead by example

No matter how many years a business has been around or how reluctant to change they might seem, successful companies know that keeping pace with the current landscape will keep them agile, relevant and allow them to withstand the test of time – but it must start at the top.

Every member of the leadership team from the C-suite to management must be fully aligned and engaged with the organization’s approach to Millennial growth. The job of HR professionals is to help guide this mindset and facilitate conversations early on that allow the leadership team to embody the company’s approach to developing a culture that supports growth, doesn’t adhere to stereotypes and is a safe place where people of all generations can feel valued and heard (regardless of their role, background or age).

As custodians of organizational culture, the role of HR is to shape it, nurture it and evolve it as the needs of the workforce shift over time. In large companies, building a culture that is open to change and to ongoing workplace evolution is the key to success.

Keeping the largest generational group happy and giving them opportunities to grow and flourish is just good business sense. Having top talent regardless of age or background should always be important to the business. After all, a great organizational culture and employee experience is designed to attract, retain and inspire the best people.

Mark Edgar is SVP of human resources at RSA Canada.




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