Most enterprises have largely followed a hierarchical organizational structure backed by procedural norms, stringent processes, and standard work profiles that has worked relatively well with the generations of the past.
In relation to employee expectations, Baby Boomers lay importance to job security and financial stability, and are in turn willing to invest in long working hours with the utmost commitment and loyalty. They are extremely perseverant to work their way up to the top of the ladder gradually. As long as their basic financial needs are met, monotonous work doesn't seem to hamper their engagement levels.
Though Gen X enrolls in the hierarchical culture, they expect more flexibility at their workplace, both in terms of work hours and their job profiles. They prefer meritocracy over experience to climb up the ladder. They are willing to accommodate, but engagement levels dip and loyalty does take a backseat if the job profile gets too repetitive. As long as the organizations rotate them to meaningful roles with adequate responsibilities and cater to their long-term aspirations, they will continue to serve to the best of their abilities.
Workplace demographics have undergone a sea of change in the recent past with the entry of tech-savvy and hyper-active millennials. Being brought up in a fast-paced and digitally-connected culture, they have unique expectations from their employers. It is imperative for organizations to clearly understand the expectations of their younger workforce to better drive and sustain their engagement.
The following are some key expectations that employers should pay heed to:
Defy hierarchy: Millennials prefer a flat hierarchy over the traditional pyramid structure. Thanks to Internet technologies, they are supremely smart and well-exposed and don't subscribe to authoritative doctrines driven by sheer experience and positions. They have entrepreneurial spirits, and they don't give substantial weightage to formal education degrees as compared to on-the-job skills and innovation. As much as they respect experience, they believe in talent-driven and swift growth. They get to choose their jobs, employers, and bosses rather than the other way round.
Collaborative culture: Having been immersed in the virtual world of social media, millennials love to work as a team and enroll in open, transparent, participative, and collaborative cultures. They base most of their decisions on the recommendations from their peers, and they would like to extend that same culture at their workplace by collaborating and co-ideating with their colleagues.
Empowerment and trust: Millennials develop a sense of belongingness towards their organization if they are allowed to participate in important discussions, express their views freely, and showcase their creative abilities to make an impact in the accomplishment of the end objectives. Despite the challenges involved in a task, if they are empowered and entrusted, they deliver it with panache. They hate to be micro-managed as they view it as distrust. As against common perceptions, it is not the paycheck that matters to them most. If they love the job on hand and are allowed to operate freely with adequate autonomy, encouragement, and support from the management, they will be more engaged and surpass excellence more often.
Instant feedback: Rapid accessibility is of key priority to millennials, both in terms of seeking information and feedback. They expect their employers and supervisors to be responsive to their needs and demands. They can be termed as the fast-food generation who instantly expect a response, instantly warrant feedback, instantly anticipate recognition and growth, instantly get motivated, instantly get disengaged, and instantly look out for alternatives if the engagement levels are not sustained.
Flexible environment: Millennials expect flexibility with respect to many aspects at the workplace. They prefer the flexibility to work from anywhere, anytime rather than being confined to cubicles with rigid timings. They favor a lenient dress code policy and prefer casual over formal attire. They prefer to attend training programs aligned to their career aspirations and contribute to organizational initiatives in line with their personal interests.
Sense of purpose: Millennials always respect and contribute to initiatives that have a sense of purpose and demonstrate goodwill in supporting the community. They have a deeper sense of responsibility as a citizen and stand by those brands and business organizations that establish a corporate social responsibility towards their community. If they can identify the goals of the organization, they will give it their all.
The employee engagement rules of the past might no longer be relevant to a new age workforce; its time to reinvent.