(This article first appeared in The Hindu on 22nd June, 2017)

Arguably world’s most famous millennial, Mark Zuckerberg’s, quote about his goal perfectly summarizes every millennials’ motto. He said, “My goal was never to just create a company… but building something that actually makes a really big change in the world.” Being able to make a meaningful impact is what motivates a millennial the most – be it in their workplace or in their personal and social life.

The millennial generation is the largest age group to emerge since the baby boom generation. By 2021 India will be emerging as the youngest country with 64% of its population in the working age group of 20-35 years. As Leigh Buchanan writes in his book ‘Meet the Millennials’, “One of the characteristics of millennials, besides the fact that they are masters of digital communication, is that they are primed to do well by doing good. Almost 70 percent say that giving back and being civically engaged are their highest priorities.” Millennials want and expect a drastically different employment experience from their previous generation. Millennials are well educated, highly skilled and savvy in technology, smart and confident and can multitask with ease. They have equally high expectations for themselves and the Company they work for. They are constantly seeking challenges and looking out for opportunities that will help them stand out in the crowd. This is a generation who wants immediate results and speedy advancement. Millennials are gregarious- they prefer and enjoy team-work and realize their need for social interaction. Though extremely competitive they also have a strong sense of work-life balance. Millennials’ prowess over technology clearly sets them apart. One of the defining characteristics of the millennial generation is their affinity with the digital world. This is the first generation to enter the workplace with a better grasp of a key business tool than more senior workers.

Considering all of the above, it will be safe to conclude that millennials are changing the way work gets done! Hence creating a workplace that attracts and retains the millennials has emerged as a tough challenge for companies. Millennials have strong beliefs and expectations that extend to the workplace; therefore corporate strategies and policies have to be crafted keeping this in mind.

  • Managers need to understand the goals that millennials might have set for themselves and align the professional goals accordingly, while carefully picking the right person for the job. A very important factor to keep in mind is the fact that they like variety and want to have a clear sense that they are moving towards something substantial and making progress
  • It is important to understand what motivates them and hence organisations should think creatively about reward strategies. Millennials are not interested in monetary benefits; they appreciate customized rewards that make them feel special. They are a generation that like to be appreciated and a lot!
  • The knowledge that their work is resulting in a positive impact and aiding growth in the Company is important for this generation. Millennials value similar things in an employer brand as they do in a consumer brand. Razorpay, where 60% of the workforce was born after 1990, encourages innovation and business ideas from its employees. The Company enjoys the lowest attrition rate in the sector
  • Millennials likes to receive feedback on a regular basis. A half-yearly or annual appraisal system will put their patience to test. They are open to real-time and practical feedback that will help them improve quality and deliver results faster
  • Millennials want flexibility. They appreciate when they are given clear instructions and are allowed the freedom to fulfill targets without being closely monitored. They are also constantly learning and are interested in being mentored. An effective mentoring programme can be crucial motivator for millennials
  • Millennials are motivated by and learn their best lessons from other millennials. It is important to encourage peer-to-peer learning and establish a culture of knowledge sharing and upholding best practices that steer successful projects

While an effective implementation of the above mentioned will ensure a lower attrition rate in a company dominated by millennial workforce, they would not be able to prevent the inevitable. The rate of attrition amongst millennials is higher compared to other generations and will continue to remain so.

However, the secret to building an employer brand that millennials appreciate and want to be associated with, is to not specifically target millennials but build a culture, management style and an approach to recruitment that resonates with the generation. Companies who are successfully practicing this are able to take their pick of the best young talent around and retain them.

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