INTRODUCTION The ‘bright young things’ of today are an enormous generation of learners who are both impatient as well as experiential. They are multitaskers and digital citizens who know one single, flat networked world and are connected round the clock. As consumers, they are highly demanding and look out for extremely personalized and customized products and services. Demographically, they are the generation born between 1979 through 1994 and are also known as the Millennials/ NextGen/Gen Y/Echo Boomers.
The uniqueness about these bright young things lies in the fact that unlike the previous generations (Gen-Xers and Boomers), they have formed distinct work characteristics, thanks to extremely devoted and competent parents, well-structured lives and a multi-ethnic and a multi-cultural upbringing. These bright young things are good team players and prefer a friendly working atmosphere with employees from diverse backgrounds.
The workplace of today is thus an exciting meeting point of different generations (Gen-Xers, Boomers and the Millenials) who not only have to interact with each other round the clock, but also have to withstand each others’ different working styles. These varied working styles often result in a high degree of conflict and misunderstanding which further impact the performance of the entire organization as a whole.
To be successful, it is thus imperative for both the organization as well as the management, to clearly define and understand the work styles of all generations at work, especially that of the Millenials, because they are so distinctly different from the other generations at work. The millenials, who are so large in numbers, are literally the future of companies and organizations. Their perspectives are very different from the older generations because they have grown up in a technology-driven world with new standards and trends.
This paper is an attempt to define these different perspectives of the different generations at the workplace and to list out some suggestions for the bosses which will enable them to manage and guide the Gen Y in the best possible manner. 1. 2 Managing the expectations of BYTs The BYTs as a generation are more expressive and vocal about their expectations than any of the older generations. They are multi taskers and like to effect change and make an impression wherever they go. They can remain interested in a workplace only if they are actively involved in the activities of their organization.
They are great team players and are in the habit of getting everything immediately (be it information or some products or services). They are also good at juggling well between their personal and professional lives. Listed below are some of the most important expectations of BYTs 1. The workplace must offer work that is challenging and meaningful. 2. The assignments delegated to them must be clear and crisp and they must be given reasonable freedom and flexibility to complete them. 3. Higher responsibility is seen by them as one of the greatest rewards for accomplishments. .
They prefer spending time in knowing their co-workers and their capabilities well. 5. Continuous training and higher learning opportunities are well appreciated by them. 6. They prefer seeing their bosses as mentors. 7. The work environment must be comfortable and not stressful. 8. They prefer flexi-scheduling rather than rigid time tables. 9. Work and humor must be mixed at the workplace. 10. The boss is also a member of the team. 11. They should be treated as colleagues and not as trainees. 12. Respect should not be commanded, but should be earned. 13.
They look forward to constructive feedback. 14. They expect to be rewarded if they have done a good job. 1. 3 How to manage these expectations Having recognised the expectations of the BYTs, it is important for the bosses to find out ways and means of translating these expectations into reality so that they can attract, retain and motivate them. The key is to design a recruiting program and a management system based on the values and needs of the Millennials. The foremost step is to be a role leader first because Millennials are looking for honest leaders with a lot of integrity.
The Millennials themselves would like to become leaders in the near future, but they would first like some great role models. The next most important issue with Millennials are challenges and learning opportunities. The more ‘new things’ the workplace has to offer, the more will the BYTs be motivated because they are looking for development and a career path. A friendly and a congenial work atmosphere is what the BYTs are looking for. Millennials say they like being friends with colleagues. Thus, it is a good idea for employers to provide for the social aspects of work.
Some organizations try to achieve this by interviewing and hiring groups of friends. The BYTs also love to have fun and an element of humor in their workplace. So encouraging a bit of silliness or irreverence does make the work environment attractive for the BYTs. The Millennials also like to be treated as colleagues and not as ‘some silly teenager or trainee’. They want their ideas to be treated respectfully even if they haven’t been since long. Flexi-schedules are another big attraction for the Millennials. A rigid schedule will surely make the organization lose its BYTs because this generation will never give up its activities for jobs.
Tomorrow’s Workplace In the changing work environment, it is best for bosses to think of their businesses like a small retail venture. Employees need to be considered just the way customers need to be considered. Bosses must ask themselves: 1. Where does their staff tend to come from and how can they get more like them? 2. How can the organization attract them? 3. What are their expectations? 4. How do they plan to retain and reward them? Some ideas for managing Millenials: • The office space should be so designed that it enables the Millennials to sit together physically to share ideas. Delegate group tasks and evaluate as a group for accomplishing the task. • Encourage a reverse mentoring program wherein the new joiners train the older employees about e-business knowledge since they tend to understand new technologies better than their seniors. • Provide clear cut goals and agendas and define assignments and success or rating factors.
• Be role leaders and show the big picture to the Millennials. • Always appreciate the millennial’s “can-do” attitude. • Encourage team work because the BYTs are used to working in groups and teams. Give them a patient ear because these BYTs have ideas and opinions, and don’t want their thoughts to be ignored. • Provide a challenging and a stimulating work environment. Make sure your BYTs are not bored with routine tasks. • BYTs are great multitaskers, so don’t be hesitant to give them a variety of tasks. • Appreciate your BYTs computer and electronic literacy and use it to your advantage. • Try to take advantage of the millennial’s great networking skills. • Millennials not only cram their lives with multiple activities but also give great importance to family and friends.
So, it is best for employers to provide a life-work balanced workplace. • Make the workplace a fun-place to be in. 1. 4 The Culture and Cult of BYTs In order to manage these BYTs in the best possible way, it is important for bosses to understand the cultural influences and the factors affecting their behaviors. Millennial Behaviors A variety of millennial behaviors are very different in nature or extent from the older generations while they were of the same age. These behaviors will go on to shape their lifelong culture and will have a definite impact on the society as a whole.
Listed below are the behaviors which will have the greatest impact on their learning, networking and consumer behaviors and those which are distinctly different from those of the older generations. Great variety, Choosy Generation: The range of products and services offered to the Millennials is much much more than that offered to any of the older generations. The BYTs are used to getting a lot of variety and choice both in terms of products and services and also in terms of career options. Theories of consumer behavior have gone through a sea change.
Millennials want full consumer control: what, when and how they want should be completely in their hands. The BYTs do not feel the need to be conventional and conform to the choice of others either in their own generation or to other generations. They desire ultimate consumer control: what they want, how and when they want it. Similarly, when it comes to career options, Millennials expect significantly increased learning options and far more challenging and a stimulating work environment. Experiential and Exploratory Learners: The BYTs do not believe in mere textbook education. Instead they want to learn by doing.
Reading directions or going by the book is certainly not their cup of tea. They prefer to learn by doing and by interacting with others and by learning from their own experiences. That is perhaps the reason why Multiplayer gaming and computer simulations are some of their favorite pastimes which give a lot of scope for trial and error learning. Thus, to retain the interest of the Millennials, it is imperative for workplaces to offer a lot of opportunities for active learning and experiential processes like games, case studies and hands-on experiences. Flexibility / Convenience:
The one thing that really doesn’t go down well with BYTs are rigid and fixed time tables. Instead, they like to have flexi-schedules and also expect their employers to give them greater flexibility. They tend to delay their job choices till the last minute so that they do not foreclose a better option later. When talking of educational courses, Millennial students these days prefer taking up a “distance education” course, simply because of the flexibility and convenience that they offer. Thus, businesses of today must find alternatives to the rigid time schedules and offer flexi work options to these BYTs.
Personalization and Customization: The BYTs are used to extremely personalized and customized products and services. Whether it is the clothes they wear, the caller tunes of their cell phones or the pizza they eat, they like to have it their way. They expect to have the maximum possible personalization and customization features to meet their ever-changing needs and tastes. Workplaces must provide personalized management systems which will constantly monitor and guide the BYTs-intervening as needed. Such personalized monitoring and mentoring should be continuous, not just a few times a year.
The current practices of assessing the employees and giving them a feedback is long drawn and slow and loses many BYTs. Impatient: BYTs are used to getting things done at the click of mouse and so, are a very impatient lot. They just cannot tolerate delays. They want their services immediately and also look forward to instant and constant feedback. The very thought of being delayed, or to wait in queue or to handle some other unproductive process makes them weary. They are looking for speed and efficiency and so, workplaces of today must use automated systems that give almost immediate answers to queries from the employees.
No theory please, we are practical: Millennials are a practical and a result oriented generation. They are keen on processes and services which will help them in speeding up their interactions. They believe that rewards should be based on competence and not on seniority. BYTs cannot tolerate the feeling that they are wasting their time and services that are not reliable. Thus, workplaces must offer a highly competitive and an efficient environment, else the BYTs will find better places. Multitaskers:
Thanks to their impatience and sharp intellect, Millennials are great at juggling several jobs at a time. This they feel is the best way to use their time in the most efficient manner. This helps them in accelerating their learning by allowing them to complete multiple tasks at the same time. The Millennials would always be doing something along with sending someone an instant message. The workplace must offer exciting and diverse tasks to the millennials so that they feel they are utilizing their time to the maximum. Digital Generation: Millennials were born in a connected world.
They have had access to Internet and computers since the very beginning and so, the pace at which they adapt to new technology is amazing. They want their workplaces to provide the speed, convenience and power of digital technology. Millennials expect all their management services to be integrated digitally online so that they can pick and choose how they want to learn and when they want to learn. Professional Gamers: Games are the latest craze of the millennials as they offer thrills, competition and a distinct emotional zeal that also encourages learning.
Millennials spend thousands of hours playing various electronic and video games. The games provide interactivity and bright and colorful graphics as well as the ability to move on to higher levels and to network with friends. Gaming plays a significant role in shaping the expectations for learning. Workplaces have to find more creative ways to use team building games in the work environments. Prolific Communication Style: Millennials are great at communicating and do so with a variety of tools like Instant Messages, text messages, cell phones along with the traditional communication channels.
The BYTs love to be constantly in touch, wherever they go, independent of their geography or distance. Thus, the concept of having mobile offices is catching the fancy of these BYTs. Workplaces must gear them up for giving quick feedback to the BYTs, anytime, anywhere, on their desired communication channels (IM, text messaging, cell phones, email, etc. ). Media Savvy: Millennials love to have interactive full motion multimedia with bright and colorful images. Workplaces must institutionally develop and use such multimedia in their daily activities. Smartness and Intelligence:
Millennials realize how important it is to work with other people more effectively and respect intelligence and smartness. They feel it is cool to be smart. Workplaces must try to create collaborative technology which will enable two or more BYTs to work together faster and more effectively. Balanced Lives: The BYTs know how to strike the right balance between work and family. They are not willing to work long hours at the cost of their health or leisure time, even if they are offered considerably higher salaries. Nevertheless, they want to earn more than their parents.
Millennials are more actively involved in cultural/literary or some sports activities than any of the older generations. This energizes them and results in them being more focused on their area of work. Workplaces thus must give them higher flexibility and lesser fixed deadlines and offer a wider range or learning and extracurricular opportunities. More gaming than TV: The BYTs are a generation which watches less television because it spends more time in playing games and simply because of the increasing competition from educational and entertainment options.
There are greater chances of seeing a Millennial playing a game than watching television. Other Characteristics: Millennials are always to the point. They might sound rude at times, but they don’t believe in beating around the bush. They are quiet sure that all of them are “above average”. They are brimming with confidence, thanks to their Boomer parents who always encouraged them and told them that ‘They are the best’. They lead a structured life and have been to the best schools. The value systems of BYTs are well aligned with those of their parents.
Millennials are also very tolerant towards other ethnicities and have multi cultural friends. The BYTs are also very well traveled as a generation. Different Personalities: Recent studies have shown that Millennials are high on warmth, emotional stability, rule consciousness, sensitivity, social boldness, perfectionism and openness to change. They were found to be low on reasoning and (Self Reliance) and high on apprehension. Some highlights of the millennial characteristics are: * Millennials, rather than being lazy, are actually very ambitious.
They do become unrealistic at times when it comes to expectations, but they have the courage and the confidence to achieve the unthinkable. * They’ll program your iPhone/ iPod/iMessenger for you in a flicker. Millennials opened their eyes in a technologically sound world and grew up totally immersed in technology. Internet is something they have always seen, they are quick adapters to new technology and are fearless of change. * Millennials have very doting and involved parents. They have been given things on a platter by their parents because of whom they often feel stressed out in minor situations.
However, they also have been given a feeling of self-worth and self-confidence to handle such situations. * Millennials are team players to the hilt. They have been involved in group projects right from school and don’t work as well alone. * Millennials share a lot with their parents. Thanks to cellphones and emails, they very often speak to their parents and are closer to them than any of the older generations. Thus, to sum it up, the different values and work ethics of the BYTs are: • Optimism – BYTs believe in the future and in the fact that they will get to play an active role in shaping it.
They are well networked and know of companies with tennis courts, boardrooms offering beer, and companies which sponsor its employees for higher education. They want their workplace to be challenging, creative, fun, and financially successful. • Duty towards society – Right since the time they were kids, the BYTs were taught to think in terms of the larger good of the society. Many BYTs believe in volunteerism and would like their companies to contribute to social causes and to operate in ‘environment friendly’ ways. Poise and self belief – Extremely confident, thanks to doting parents who have instilled the importance of self-esteem in these BYTs. The Millennials consider themselves capable of doing anything and this ‘can-do’ attitude of the millennials is difficult to digest for the managers belonging to the older generations. • Achievement • Friendliness • Honest and high on Integrity • Street smarts • Ethnic and cultural diversity • Team players – Millennials are team players and believe that collective strength is much more powerful than individual strength.
They are used to working in teams and want to make sure no one is left behind. They want their workplace which offers equal and fair opportunities to all. They might even use their collective power to raise a voice against something unfair. • Firm and stubborn • Heroic spirit – The BYTs have witnessed a lot of terrorist activity (bombing of the Murrah federal building in Oklahama City, killing of classmates by two Columbine High School students killed and the catastrophic moment of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001) during their most formative years.
As a result of these violent acts, Millennials watched the American hero re-emerge in the form of policemen, firemen, firefighters, and mayors. This heroic spirit has had an ever lasting impact on the minds of the millennials. • Multi-taskers • Tech savvy • Not very good at dealing with difficult people 1. 5 The fast and furious lives of BYTs The latest entrants to the workplace, The Millennial Generation consists of all those born between 1977 and 1998. The population of this generation is close to 75 million who have been raised by the most child-centric parents in our history.
Having received loads of attention and importance from doting parents, the millennials are highly self-confident and already believe that they are the future. They are highly tech-savvy since technology has always been part of their lives, be it computers or Internet or cell phones or i-pods. Millennials are great team players and prefer working in groups or teams as they understand that collectively they can achieve much more than what can be achieved individually. However, they prefer working with friends and like to know their co-workers well before starting work in an organization.
They are good at multi tasking and so simultaneously have interest in sports, cultural activities, music, literature as well as in social interests. Thus, they are hard working for sure. When it comes to the workplace, they prefer to have a well structured workplace. The BYTs understand hierarchy and respect positions but feel that responsibilities and rewards should be ‘capability based’ and not ‘age based’. They feel comfortable working with a boss who acts like a mentor. This is in sharp contrast to the Generation X’s love of independence.
Since all Millennials are new to the professional workplace, they need a great deal of mentoring and guidance, howsoever smart and confident they are. They also appreciate getting personalised feedback and mentoring because they look out for structure and stability. Millennials should be mentored in a more formal way with set meetings and an attitude that is very authoritative on the mentor’s part. Bosses should thus provide lots of challenging assignments to the BYTs to keep their interest going and should also provide the right kind of structure to back it up.
Goals should be broken down into ‘easy to understand and follow’ steps and the required resources and information must be provided to meet the challenge. It is a good idea to mentor Millennials in groups because they are good team players and can also act as each other’s mentors. The BYTs, as mentioned earlier in the paper, are different in many ways from their peers. However, it is their impact on the workplace that makes them truly notable and remarkable – and very very distinct from the earlier generations of twenty somethings.
Their ambitions are sky high and so are their demands and expectations. They are great communicators and won’t think twice before calling a spade a spade. They want to see the logic behind every decision and will question anything that is not clear to them. Thus, if there isn’t a very great reason for a long commute to work or late working hours, they, in all probability, will not do it. They are loyal, yes, but first towards themselves, their families, friends, their communities, their colleagues and then towards their companies.
Money is surely one of the greatest motivators for them and being so well connected and networked, they know it well as to what every major company in a given industry is offering. They know that they are capable and so want their salaries to be commensurate with their capabilities. 1. 6 Some Myths and Realities about the BYTs: • Myth 1: The BYTs of today are “going to hell in a hand basket. ” – Experts believe this is a unique group of young, talented people who will emerge as heroes of the coming years. – Adapted from Claire Raines, Beyond Generation X (Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications, 1997) Myth 2: BYTs are less read since they spend more time watching TV and playing video games. – BYTs are well read. Business Week reported a survey which shows that video games cut into TV viewing time and not reading time. (4/19/97) – Adapted from Claire Raines, Beyond Generation X (Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications, 1997)
• Myth 3: BYTs are violent. – The incidence of serious teen violence crime has come down drastically in the last two decades. • Myth 4: Teen pregnancy is up. -Teen pregnancy is falling sharply, at the fastest rate ever recorded. • Myth 5: Adolescents’ use of drugs is up. As per Mike Males, author of Framing Youth (Common Courage Press, 1999), modern adolescents use milder drugs, that too in less quantity and less frequently as compared to adults. They are less likely to consume mixed drugs or with alcohol. They rarely drive after using alcohol or drugs. • Myth 6: They’re like X squared. – Millennials as a generation are closer to Baby Boomers or members of the WWII Generation than they are to Generation Xers. Thus, the employers must wake themselves up to the reality of the Generation Y and not ignore them as ‘just another teenaged trainee’ based on the myths surrounding their generation.
If the employers are unable to meet the high expectations of the millennials or look down upon their ideas for lack of experience or allow negativity to foster in the workplace or feel threatened by the technical know how of the BYTs, it won’t be long before they will lose one of their most talented employees who can very well take their business to unimaginable levels of success. 1. 7 CONCLUSION Surveys based on Internet research counts tell us that nearly 75,000,000 millennials are either joining or are preparing to join the workforce in the near future.
The numbers are too big to be ignored and there is no doubt that the future of the businesses lies in the hands of this generation. This is one generation which despite being young and inexperienced is giving the older generations a run for their money. Thanks to the tremendous technical know how and the ‘child-centric’ rearing of this generation, they are a force to reckon with. However, this generation being very different from the older generation in terms of behaviour and work ethics, it is increasingly becoming difficult for managers to understand and manage them in a prudent way.
This paper was an attempt to frame a guide for the managers or bosses of these ‘Bright Young Things’ which would help them in attracting, retaining and motivating this generation. This paper attempts to lay down a foundation for creating and managing a superior workforce, a workforce of the future. Based on the concepts covered in the paper, we can safely conclude that the millennials are highly desirable employees and are the workforce of the future.
It is in the best interest of the individual businesses as well as the economy as a whole to guide and mentor this generation in the way they desire and to offer them a workplace which has a structured setting and is yet a fun place to be in. Five Lessons Bosses Want to Teach Millennials * Never have blind faith on authority. Never assume anyone to be right just because of the position he is in, be it the government, the entrepreneur or even the management. Always assume the worst case scenario about anyone in authority, wherever possible. * Try to understand systems and find out how things work.
Try to understand the effects of various actions and don’t just be over concerned about the bottom line. * Millennials are technically much savvier than gen-x or boomers. However, when it comes to education, they are not as strong in their concepts as the gen-x or boomers. They must read and interact more with those who have been on the job for a while. * The most important person to decide on your career goals is you. Thus, millennials must take greater initiative when it comes to their career and skills. Mentors are there to guide them but the real job has to be done by them.
The gen-x and boomers are the newsmakers right now and are running the show. However, they want the millennials to take over and for this, the millennials have to become much more independent than what they are. The managers have to take the same path as the parents of these BYTs have taken to guide them – love, encouragement and rewards. In corporate terms these could be translated as providing a reliable support network, offering them work that is challenging and stimulating and not at all boring, routine and mundane and giving them constant, meaningful and personalized feedback.
To win the loyalty of the BYTs, the kind of relationship they have with their immediate superiors is very critical. This relationship, while not being too personal, should be that of a mentor and an idol, rather than that of a boss and a subordinate. Managers must strive to get to know each employee as an individual and to find out about their expectations. They must know what they are working for and what they want to achieve by working for them. Managers must know what the key motivating factors are for their millennial employees and try to bring into practice those factors.
Bosses should try to set goals after discussing it with the employees and after showing the employees the larger picture and telling them where they fit in and what is expected out of them. Also, bosses must find out suitable ways of rewarding the BYTs for accomplishments and keep giving them higher authority and responsibility with each accomplishment. Thus, to conclude: BYTs • Would like their managers to earn respect rather than command it
• Don’t believe in seniority and prefer direct communication with all levels of management • respect legitimate authority, however, they will follow referent authority Are not afraid of hard work, but the work must be meaningful and stimulating • Want their ideas to be respected and given equal weightage as that of their peers who have more number of years of experience 1. 8 RECOMMENDATIONS Millennials are strong on values and fundamentals,are great team players, have a positive frame of mind, are flexible and open to change. However, their weakness lies in the fact that they get motivated when there are bad times but immediately get de-motivated as soon as good times come. They view the ‘all is well’ time as dull and start preparing for a job change when this phase comes.
To be successful leaders, they must understand that all businesses go through good and bad times. They are unable to foresee the good times as a phase meant for waiting and planning and preparing oneself for the bad times. The millennials very quickly lose interest and have a misconception that working in a challenging environment and succeeding is the most sure shot way to the top. Herein comes the task of the bosses to wear the mentors cap and make the BYTs understand that the dull times are the actual phases of conceptualization and planning and that the importance of these stages is as much, if not more, than the action phase.
The bosses must make the BYTs realize that the long term benefits of sticking to a company are far more attractive than what they can achieve by job hopping, looking out for newer challenges. The mentor has to clearly define the goals of his organization as well as help the BYTs in defining their own goals and choices, else the frequent job changes early in their careers might result in stagnancy at mid-management level. The employers must prepare these future leaders by making them understand the difference of long term and short term success and that sticking around in a company can also take them to the top.
Based on the various aspects discussed above about the BYTs, following are a set of recommendations for bosses and companies to follow in order to take out the best from this generation: • Enough orientation time must be allowed. Remember, BYTs like to know their co-workers well. Give them enough time to understand the workplace, the work requirements and their co-workers. • Introduce them to your organization by showing them the big picture which should be clear and realistic.
Tell them about all aspects of the workplace, both good and bad. Define the expectations and goals clearly and in an unambiguous manner. In fact, it is better to arrive at goals after discussing it with the employees. • Encourage them to share their goals and expectations with you. Try to find out why they are here and help them in chalking out a strategy for meeting their goals. • Never believe in gender inequalities. This generation doesn’t believe in these inequalities and might even raise a voice in case it feels that some kind of bias exists in the workplace. • Have faith in the capabilities of this generation.
They are tremendously talented, sharp and have the zeal in them to take your business to great heights. • Do not endorse scientific management or the “I tell, you do” phenomenon. Instead, involve them in setting up goals and in finding out ways to achieve those goals. • Follow the concept of Referent leadership. Be a boss as well as a team player. The BYTs should look upon you as a mentor and not just as a boss. • Give the BYTs a chance to succeed. Believe in them and in their ideas. Give them the necessary tools to implement their ideas. • Shrug off all the myths written about this generation.
Do not miss out on the next great generation of dedicated and talented workers, craving for an opportunity to show results and make contributions. • Learn about their behavior patterns and their key influencers. Involve their parents when required. • Adopt the process of ‘reverse mentoring’. Make the BYTs train the older employees about surfing the net and using the digital gadgets. • Delegate tasks to teams rather than to individuals. • Apply organizational behavior theories in a practical manner. • Encourage the BYTs to mix-up and be friends with their peers. • Appreciate and reward them as and when they accomplish a task.