20/02/2018 12:32 GMT | Updated 20/02/2018 12:33 GMT

Millennials In The Workplace – Not Entitled, Just Different

Millennials have extremely high expectations of their role and the company they join.

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By 2020, almost half of the workforce will be made up of millennials, yet one of the biggest challenges for organisations will be engaging and retaining them, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) CEO's report.

Some highlights from the report:

  • Only 18 percent of those surveyed expected to stay with their current employer for the long term, with over a quarter expecting to have six employers or more in their work life.
  • Millennials are looking for a good work/life balance and accordingly, flexible working hours are regarded as one of the top benefits offered by a company.
  • Career progression is a top priority for millennials, who expect to rise rapidly through the organisation. Competitive salaries came second place.
  • Millennials have a strong appetite for working overseas, and 71 percent expect and want to do an overseas assignment during their career.
  • 38 percent felt older senior management do not relate to younger workers, and 34 percent said their personal drive was intimidating to other generations.

"With just over 70 percent of SA millennials anticipated to move to a different organisation within five years, it is high time organisations find a way to retain these talented professionals by being more intentional in managing their own and the expectations of millennials," said Chantelle Solomon, a management coaching expert.

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Solomon suggested this can be achieved using the following levers:

1. Technology

Their affinity with the digital world is one of the defining characteristics of the millennial generation. They have grown up with broadband, smartphones, laptops and social media being the norm, and expect instant access to information. They are also first generation to enter the workplace with a better grasp of these key business tools than more senior workers.

Companies in tune with technology have better chances of attracting and retaining millennials.

Millennials are not afraid of changing jobs and in many instances careers. They will easily only spend a two-year tenure at a company and move on.

2. Coaching

Solomon says research indicates that coaching for millennials can have a major impact on bridging the expectations gap arising from generational differences. This was also true of the PwC report, which indicated that this generation is committed to personal learning and development – and this remains their first-choice benefit from employers.

"Since they are self-assured, they have a higher need for feedback and recognition as well as opportunities for more collaborative engagement with management, having a say in setting performance expectations and negotiating a fair salary for the work they do," explained Solomon.

3. Companies must be honest about what they can offer

"Millennials have extremely high expectations of their role and the company they join, they want to learn and develop, as well as nurture a good work-life balance which allows for flexibility around where and when they work. Ultimately their job should fit their life," said Solomon.

"Millennials are not afraid of changing jobs and in many instances careers. They will easily only spend a two year tenure at a company and move on."

If organisational culture cannot meet these demands, employers must be honest during the interview process, rather than promise and not deliver.

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British-U.S. author and speaker Simon Sinek believes employers trying to adjust to "millennial work conditions" have hard work ahead of them.

For one, they must bear in mind that the millennial generation grew up impatient, as advances in technology have facilitated instant gratification. "Except in the case of job satisfaction and strength of relationships, there aint no app for that. They are slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes," he said.

To retain millennials therefore may require companies to also invest in teaching millennials personal and interpersonal skills such as communication, patience, coping with pressure and being a team player — not the company's fault, but the consequence of the family and society this generation grew up in.

You can watch the rest of his take on the matter below: