Understanding millennials

There are approximately 20 million millennials in the Philippine workforce today. Some studies say that by 2020, the global workforce will be half occupied by the millennials. This being the case, it would make sense to know how to understand and motivate them, not only in the workplace, but outside of it as well.  

There have been a lot written about this batch of now young professionals, mostly unflattering however. The topics usually revolve around them being selfish, easily getting distracted, cannot stay put in one company, or having a feeling of entitlement. While this may be evident in some, I dare not generalize this as a matter of fact for an entire age group. 

Who are the millennials? There are varying age cut-offs that can be used. According to Ms. Pauline Gatera-Fermin, their age range is from 20-35 as of 2017. How can you spot them in the workplace? One clue is that they are the ones probably wearing headphones while at their work stations. They have an uncanny ability to concentrate better while there is music blasting out from their Beats, Skull Candy or Bose earphones. Another indicator is that they are the ones playing app games on their mobile phones during break time [hopefully only during break time]. They are the more free-spirited individuals, probably brought about by their youth and curiosity.

In my experience, our millennial employees are efficient but can be prone to mistakes. There is a propensity for just doing things. If unsure, they will still do it and deal with the consequences later. They seem to be shy in asking help from their superiors, and would rather just wing it. They have a lot of potential and energy, which can be an asset for any organization. Finishing a task as fast as possible is something they like to do. If they can do something themselves instead of asking somebody for help, they will do it. 

For some, this can be taken as having a lack of respect for authority or as utter recklessness. However, conventional wisdom reveals that they mean well and want to be as effective and productive as their other colleagues. It’s just that the millennials have a different way of attacking a specific task. For the manager, there should be a conscious effort to understand this so that they can properly coach and guide their employees. Gen X and Baby Boomers are probably just not used to how the millennials work. It’s a matter of having a different style. Understanding it and harnessing that energy will be beneficial to the organization. This is where flexibility and an open mind comes in. We can’t rely on the methods that we used when we deal with Gen-X and Baby Boomers. The transactional dynamics are considerably different.

For starters, these active people want the go-go life. They want to be constantly on the move. They can easily get bored and want variations. They are an experiential generation. This is why they want to travel, try new food, new gadgets and new sports. They are at the peak of their physical capabilities. They are full of energy. Our millennial employees can go on a road-trip to Ilocos on Friday night and come back in time for Monday morning work.  

The active lifestyle of millennials has even caught the eye of some insurance companies who recognize the increasing population of these employees in the workplace. There are now group insurance plans that include coverage for engaging in extreme sports such as bungee jumping, wake boarding, rock climbing, off-road biking and alike. They recognize that allowing the millennials to do what they like to do outside of the workplace will also enhance their performance at work because they will feel satisfied and fulfilled.

Another aspect that I noticed is they work better if their superiors are not too stiff with them. They have a tendency to be more relaxed with their demeanor towards people without being disrespectful. Stiffness stresses them out and makes them nervous and affects their performance. Giving them ample space to work and operate works for them.

One of the most common issues with the millennials now is their loyalty to a company. The unofficial average time a millennial will stay in a new job is three years. After this, they will have the three-year itch and look for new opportunities and experiences that will take them away from their boredom.  However, there are many cases where they will stay in the same company, as long as they are able to feel productive and empowered in their work.

Our millennials are here to stay and will continue to increase. Pretty soon, they will be replacing the Gen-X batch. Knowing what makes them tick will be key to a harmonious and productive workplace environment. This is a good way to start on the road to less stress. Life is too short. Enjoy the view! 

Benigno R. Lingad is a Master of Business Administration student at the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. He graduated with a degree in AB Psychology at De La Salle University. He is currently the executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Assistco Energy & Industrial Corporation, located in Taguig City. He can be reached at   [email protected]   The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.

Topics: Green Light , Understanding millennials
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