Millennials have been identified as children who were born between the early 80s and mid-90s making the oldest ones 38 years of age this year. They have been described as Generation Y to distinguish them from their parents who belong to Generation X.
When the millennials began landing at workplaces, they took the old guards by storm because of being technology savvy coupled with agility in using social media.
They had work expectations that would not be easily met in traditional offices. Instead of addressing the needs of the newcomers, the old generation went on the offensive with negative descriptions that fuelled misunderstandings between the two diverse generations. Here some of the challenges organisations are facing with millennials and how to address them.
Organisations were caught unawares of the multiple expectations and needs of millennials in the work environment. Management, some of whom had a patriarchal approach to workplace issues, were surprised to have their power and authority challenged with questions such Why? How? Where processes and procedures were considered normal by virtue of having been used for a long time, the millennials suggested up options that threatened to rock the smooth sailing workplace boats.
In bringing on-board the new generation, unrevised old induction manuals were used for a totally different target group who were brought up with lifestyles of better social and economic conditions.
Since some of the millennials were transiting into disengaging away from parental oversight, they exerted levels of assertiveness that were easily interpreted as challenging the status quo. For employers to accommodate the new workforce generation, there is a need to review existing methods of new employee orientation to capture the changing times.
Lack of On-job Training
The only stint of participation that millennials may have had with the happenings at the workplace was during their internships most of which were poorly designed and implemented. With such a vague understanding of the operations of various organisational functions, they feel like being requested to swim at the deep end of the swimming pool without the prerequisites.
Employers are expected to offer supervised on-job training to new employees particularly the fresh ones who may not have a clue on documented work procedures. The persons conducting on-job training should possess facilitation skills for imparting the required work-related knowledge.
Unaddressed Intergeneration Conflicts
The presence of about three generations in a work environment is a matter that management should not ignore because of its unspoken tensions, conflicts and misgivings which negatively impact on productivity. One generation feels that the other is overstaying and not providing it room for upward career mobility. Yet the other generation is defending itself, arguing that they possess the expertise and experience that the new generation has a long way to amass. The disquiet between and among the generations should be openly addressed to maintain a work environment where all employees are recognised for their contribution towards organisational productivity.
Inflexible Working Hours
Most organisations operate from 8 am to 5 pm working hours per day from Monday to Friday. This fixed working week does not provide the level of flexibility that would cater to the millennials ways of spending time. Yet the nature of some work assignments may be undertaken by employees reporting early, leaving late or working from home. Employers that embrace flexible working hours would become not only of choice but also able to retain employee while optimising work output.