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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Memo to CEOs: What millennials want

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"Young workers are eager for business leaders to be proactive about making a positive impact in societyóand to be responsive to employeesí needs."

Who are the millennials?

Millennials are defined roughly as those who were born between 1980 and 2000.

They’re digital natives—growing up amidst social networks and rapidly evolving technology. They crave growth and experiences versus stability. They’re empowered and entitled.

Philippines millennials make up one-third of the total population. They’re the ones marketers try to entice and persuade. The ones companies want to hire (if they haven’t started their own). The ones driving the nation’s high growth. They are a force to be reckoned with.

This year, the oldest millennials are 36 years old. As they enter their prime years, they’re defining the nation and workplace. They’re also starting to take care of a new generation.

According to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, millennial workers are disappointed in business and are unprepared for Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 is a name given to the current trend of automation and data exchange. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, and cognitive computing. Industry 4.0 is commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. Just think robots and smart, automated stuff.

The report is based on the views of 10,455 millennials questioned across 36 countries, including 311 from the Philippines. Millennials included in the study represent a specific group of this generation—those who have college or university degrees, are employed full time and work predominantly in large, private sector organizations. Millennials are increasingly taking on senior positions in which they can influence how their organizations address society’s challenges.

The millennial generation is feeling uneasy about the future. The growth of Industry 4.0 technologies has altered the nature of work, while political upheavals challenge the established world order. In this environment, millennials yearn for leaders whose decisions might benefit the world—and their careers.

Building on last year’s report, the survey delves into respondents’ perceptions of the evolving threats and opportunities in an increasingly complex world. For the first time, the survey also includes opinions of Generation Z—those following millennials into the workplace.

In a fragmenting social and political environment, with Industry 4.0 driving profound changes, many millennials are exhibiting a marked desire for reassurance. They feel pessimistic about the prospects for political and social progress, along with concerns about safety, social equality, and environmental sustainability. While young workers believe that business should consider stakeholders’ interests as well as profits, their experience is of employers prioritizing the bottom line above workers, society, and the environment, leaving them with little sense of loyalty.

Among this year’s key findings:

• Perceptions of business are heading south. Millennials’ opinions about business’ motivations and ethics, which had trended up the past two years, took a sharp turn downward. There continues to be a stark mismatch between what millennials believe responsible businesses should achieve and what they perceive businesses’ actual priorities to be.

• Diversity and flexibility are key to loyalty. Good pay and positive cultures are most likely to attract both millennials and Gen Z, but diversity, inclusion, and flexibility are important keys to keeping them happy. Many respondents, especially in the Philippines and other emerging markets, view the gig economy (temporary positions or short-term engagements) as an attractive alternative or adjunct to their jobs.

• Young workers feel unprepared for Industry 4.0. Millennials expressed admiration for corporations that are adapting to and advancing Industry 4.0 and developing their people to succeed in this evolving business environment. Respondents lack confidence that they can succeed in an Industry 4.0 environment and are looking to businesses to help them develop the necessary skills, including the “soft” skills they believe will be more important as jobs evolve.

As seen in previous surveys, companies and senior management teams that are most aligned with millennials in terms of purpose, culture, and professional development are likely to attract and retain the best millennial talent and, in turn, potentially achieve better financial performance. Loyalty must be earned, and the vast majority of millennials are prepared to move, and move quickly, for a better workplace experience.

The message is clear: Young workers are eager for business leaders to be proactive about making a positive impact in society—and to be responsive to employees’ needs.

Millennials want leaders to more aggressively commit to making a tangible impact on the world while preparing their organizations and employees for the changes that Industry 4.0 is effecting.

One silver lining is that far more millennials believe that business leaders are making a more positive impact on the world than government or religious leaders. Even so, four in 10 respondents see business leaders having a negative impact. Therefore, the timing is ideal for business leaders to step up and take actions that benefit all of their stakeholders.

eric.jurado@gmail.com“‹

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