Clarity of role, career growth path helps attract millennials
Indian millennials must become the focal point of any human capital trend or discussion in the country, given they are poised to be 70% of India’s working age population by 2026.
Millennials or Gen Y is the cohort born between 1980 and 2000, who grew up with access to smartphones, the internet and all other technologies available — the generation born immediately after Gen X (1965-1979).
The millennial population in India is 426 million, compared to American millennials at 70 million and Chinese millennials at 218 million.
Indian millennials are influenced by the rapid adoption of technology they have witnessed, they are children of abundance as compared to their parents, and are mostly upbeat, competitive, ambitious and want results instantly.
Many of their world views are contrary to those of previous generations, especially in the context of ‘power distances’ (high levels of inequality of power and wealth accepted as a cultural norm) and communication (it is limited and guarded between those who have power and wealth and those who don’t). Both these macro-societal norms continue to find their way into the workplace in the form of power distances and command & control leadership styles, further accentuated by the hierarchy — an industrial era construct still reigning supreme in the knowledge era.
Communication flow is topdown, presuming the top or senior leadership have all the information, experience and answers to make strategic decisions — often a fallacious assumption given the disruptions across industries in unprecedented VUCA times. ( VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.)
With the advent of the knowledge era, which has considerably democratised information/knowledge, the ‘seasoned judgment’ expected from leaders will now need to be re-examined, as past generations grapple with unprecedented problems in a non-linear world.
With four generations at work (Baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and with Gen Z beginning to come in as interns), we are looking at an interesting melange of world views, which can easily challenge collaboration, engagement, retention and contributions in the future. The hierarchy with its think/do divide still adorns most organisations, suits the Boomers and Gen X who have waited for their turn to command and lead. But these styles can severely hamper communication flow, accountability, ownership and agility — all so crucial in VUCA times.
Further, the premium on obedience, rewards for following instructions, and cultures of appeasement & consensus under the pretext of speed have left several millennials bewildered as to how to navigate the political webs within organisations before being heard.
One recent research included 100 focus group discussions with Indian millennials with experience of 2-3 years across industries. And here are two things they shared: Indian millennials see their bosses as scared/insecure, sometimes paranoid about making mistakes, risk-averse and scared of speaking up — this makes working in the business world less attractive and growing into leadership roles less aspirational. Second, most of them picked the image of Atlas carrying the weight of the world to describe their stressed and overburdened Gen X bosses.
Interestingly, Gen X is the most resilient generation anywhere in the world, having witnessed the greatest number of transitions through their lifetimes, especially with the advent of technology and connectivity.
For those interested in creating millennial-friendly workplaces and preparing to integrate this important cohort, here’s what they mostly seek from an employer:
* Role-based organisations and designations.
* A positive work culture. * Mentoring by experienced senior leaders.
* Gen Y/millennials are often champions for business with a purpose.
* Work-life balance until they merge to find their ‘Ikigai’: That’s the Japanese concept of a ‘reason for being’.
* Regular feedback on performance.
* Equality and respect for the no-power-distance generation.