aspirations for Millennials

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Aspirations of a New Generation – the Millennials

About The HRIS World Millennials Series™ #thwGenY

We are going to summarize a video provided by Simon Sinek, who has said and shared a lot of things we have already discussed in our newsletters and blogs...

Born 1984 and after, Millennials are accused of being entitled, narcissistic, unfocused, lazy. They do, however, want to work with a purpose, they want to make an impact, they want free food and bean bags (not necessarily the last two, just seeing if you are paying attention!). Yet, give them everything they want, and they are still not happy (truthfully, has anyone really been happy about getting anything, never mind everything, when always easily gained?).

This unhappiness has roots in their upbringing, in their use of technology, their impatience, and our environment...

  • The failed parenting strategies in which they were raised provoked more long-term problems than resolved. Let's face it, the parenting styles used to raise this generation tried to circumvent several principles everyone knows is true, some of which are: You reap what you sew, you can't sharpen a knife on a sponge, facing the pain you are going through today will minimize an even greater pain later. Instead, the parenting styles that were chosen focused heavily on issues that mostly could have been resolved over time that would have provided lessons learned early on in life. Those early lessons would have provided opportunities to build character which would have prepared their children for life after school, for the real life. This costly mistake has resulted in a generation that has, as far as we know, the lowest self-esteem than any previous generation. This means there are a sufficient number of Millennials, who are now the largest portion of the workforce, are going to need direction and guidance in overcoming an inhibiting lifestyle from what has essentially not been their fault.
  • Next on the list of root causes of the Millennials unhappiness is the lack of balance in using technology. This imbalance has allowed Millennials to filter nearly everything around them. This filtering process has kept them from really conversing which would lead to developing meaningful relationships, has kept them from learning how to work in teams, and has kept them from learning how to develop trust. They do this filtering via technology as it feels good. A Harvard study, completed in 2012, has shown that dopamine is released anytime one talks about themselves through social media (if not familiar, dopamine is the same chemical released when we smoke, drink, or gamble and the release of dopamine forms an addiction when it is not tempered). As the use of social media can provide a high level of dopamine, it makes social media and cell phone usage highly addictive. Truthfully, it is comparable to being provided all the smokes, alcohol, and gambling they wanted at a very young age. Yet, we have restrictions on smoking, alcohol, and gambling and none on the smartphone and social media usage. As a result of what amounts to a full access to a quick fix during the childhood and adolescence, what has been permitted in their childhood and adolescence has created an entire addictive adulthood generation that is numbed by a chemical called dopamine. And they are addicted in their personal lives, their work lives, their social lives, every level of their lives. Like ANY addiction, this dependency has deprived them of learning how to form deep meaning relationships as well as how to cope with stress that comes into their lives. Like ANY addiction, they are not turning to a person but to a device. This has lead to a higher rate of depression in a young generation. These addiction traits, however, can be stopped when one sees the value of a life outside of their addiction -- only now there is a higher level of pain involved as a habit needs to be broken, and new disciplines formed to develop new habits. The good news is they will be all the better for it.
  • Millennials are an impatient lot. Any time they want to do something, it is almost always immediately available for their participation - watch a film, read a book, ask someone out on a date, even ordering something on Amazon. This results in the failure to learn the life skill of being patient. This has minimized the social coping mechanisms all previous generations had to learn. Everything is instant gratification... except for job (or career) satisfaction and strength of relationships. Millennials have not learned that social coping skills are slow, meandering, messy processes. They have also never been taught that the most treasured and valuable things in life are arduous, long, and difficult in gaining. All this amounts to never having learned how to build joy into their lives.
  • Lastly the traditional company environment of short-term gains and funneling employees into positions where they either sink or swim will, with Millennials, result in a labor shortage never seen before. As Millennials want to learn, want to perform, want to make an impact, the traditional environment is not only unnecessary but minimizes the honing and growth of these desires. And their willingness is half the corporate battle, as many who have the hard skills do not have the proper soft skills that are necessary to carry out the hard skills successfully and fully. Companies need to learn how to teach Millennials how they can build confidence, how they can learn the skills of co-operation, how they can learn to overcome the challenges of a digital world while also finding a sense of balance, how they can learn to overcome instant gratification. All this will provide everyone -- the older generation, the businesses, the Millennials, the joys, impacts, fulfillments, and trust that one gets from working on something for a long time. We can not correct the problem we have created with the Millennials by using the same thinking that created the problem in the first place -- we have to think differently, which means actions must be different as well.

How can we, as leaders for the Millennials, do all this? Well, we ourselves have to relearn, and in some cases learn anew, the principles, laws of life, and the means that builds character. This is not something that should ba balked at -- there is a blessing to be had by us as people, businesses, as well as the Millennials as all will become stronger as a result, and that blessing will be in direct proportion to the effort put forth. This is a principle of relationships that transcends cultures, generations, genders, even IQ levels.

If you are interested in seeing the entire conversation by Simon Sinek, just click here.

Feel free to reach out to us if you wish to contribute some of your thoughts via a post by clicking the contact us button on the lower right of any page. Feedback, debates, discussion, collaboration and conversation are always encouraged in the comments section below... For more information about this series, use the blue contact us button on the lower right of your screen to contact us -- or if you are reading this by our newsletter, then hit the reply button to get back to us!

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The Gen Y-ers, aka Millennials, are typically defined as those born between the 1980s and 1990s.

In less than 10 years, this generation will form the majority of the global workforce.

How ready is the world for them?

Studies have shown that Millennials have high expectations of themselves and their employers at the workplace (Armour, 2010).

They expect to be managed fairly and place an emphasis on professional development.

The Millennials are also keen learners, constantly seeking new challenges and opportunities for personal growth.

At the same time, they crave autonomy in making decisions, displaying a preference for task ownership.

With the ever increasing complexity involved in managing this generation, here are some considerations we can apply to sate that Millennial appetite:




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Work-life Balance

The Millennials are a historical generation that has lived through paradigm events such as the global financial crises and the September 11 attacks.

These events have had the subconscious effect of subtly prompting a continual evaluation of their priorities, transforming the notion of a work-life balance into something of utmost importance.

When Millennials say they want balance, they do not mean working less.

The Intelligence Group studies of Millennials have found that 88% of Millennials want “work-life integration”; they desire to work in a company where programs and culture are flexible.


Job Satisfaction

Millennials look for more than just financial benefit; job satisfaction is equally important.

A PWC study in 2008 revealed that an active pursuit of corporate responsibility is something that Millennials find important.

88% of the study’s respondents indicated that they prefer an employer whose values match their own.

While concerned with making contributions, Millennials also place a high value on personal professional development which they perceive as preparation to take on meaningful job assignments in the future (Corporate Leadership Council, 2005).


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Rapid Career Advancement

Another tenet that Millennials find attractive would be a rapid climb within their respective corporate environments.

An academic study in 2010 found that this constituted one of the main considerations Millennials have when deciding between companies to work for.

In another survey done by the Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @ Work”, it was found that 91% of Millennials do not expect to stay in the same job for more than 3 years.

The results of the survey are not surprising; job hopping provides a means to avoid the relatively slower ascent up the corporate ladder, should they continue to work in the same organization for many years.

An Open Working Environment

Millennials enjoy working in an open environment that has opportunities for social interaction with fellow coworkers.

They appreciate opportunities to work closely and to form meaningful friendships with their coworkers and managers.

Moreover, research has found that Millennials thrive on challenging work and creative expression; they enjoy freedom and flexibility but find micromanagement stifling (Martin, 2005).


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Consistent Feedback

Performance appraisals, both formal and informal, are critical for Millennials in that they provide a platform for either recognition or improvement.

Research has shown that this generation responds well to feedback and encouragement.

Even a simple “thank you” can motivate and produce results.

To improve job performance, managers can position themselves as dynamic resources and soundboards whom Millennials can learn from.


The Last Word

In all, Millennials may look overly ambitious with their numerous demands.

However, they are not any different from other generations; they are merely brought up in a different world where demands can be more openly made.

Companies can definitely stand to gain immensely by understanding and engaging this generation on a higher level.


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Ng, Eddy SW, Linda Schweitzer, Sean T. Lyons: “New generation, great expectations: A field study of the millennial generation.” Journal of Business and Psychology 25.2 (2010): 281-292.

Martin, Carolyn A.: “From high maintenance to high productivity: What managers need to know about Generation Y.” Industrial and commercial training 37.1 (2005): 39-44.

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Joyce will be gaining her bachelors degree with the National University of Singapore in the fall of 2015.

To prepare for her future, she started by as an Ops HR Intern with Resort World Sentosa Group and is now interning with SABIC Petrochemicals (TM team).

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When relaxing, Joyce enjoys playing the piano, social work -- and balloon sculpting!

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