Telecommunications firm Ericsson recently conducted a survey with US-based 22-29 year olds – also called the millennials. All those surveyed have a college education, are ambitious and see themselves taking on leadership positions in the future. While the survey focused on young Americans, it is likely that many of the increasingly connected and tech-savvy young Africans share the same outlook. Below are some insights into today’s 20-somethings’ expectations from the workplace:
1. Close relationship with supervisors and constant feedback: During their childhoods, millennials were encouraged to have close relationships with their parents and teachers. They expect the same kind of relationships in a work environment.
“Millennials want close relationships with their supervisors, and expect frequent feedback. They dislike ambiguity and expect transparency and fairness in all their dealings with work organisations,” notes the report.
2. Work/life balance: Unlike their parents of the boomer generation, millennials are not workaholics. They want a clear work/life balance and expect their employers to help them achieve this.
“They view work as just one aspect of life, and place more value on the sanctity of free time,” says the report.
3. Immediate gratification: The young people surveyed by Ericsson are not necessarily excited by the idea of slowly climbing up the corporate ladder. “They are less willing to pay dues, and unlikely to pursue the delayed gratification of a gradual promotion track.”
4. Tech-savvy: Millennials have a much closer relationship with technology than other generations. The report explains that “due to the rapid changes in technology over the last 25 years, millennials have become highly adaptable and naturally fast-paced. In their eyes, change is a constant…” These young employees often get frustrated with companies that use outdated technology.
5. Always connected: Young professionals are in constant contact with their friends and family through social media networks and instant messaging platforms. They continue with this communication during work hours, and view it as a right rather than a benefit.
Unfortunately for employers, this is not a two-way street. Millennials are generally not willing to let work interrupt their private lives, especially during weekends.
6. Using personal networks to solve work-related issues: Millennials reach out to their friends and contacts to get help with work-related issues. Whereas previous generations would have limited such questions to their colleagues, millennials utilise their personal networks to address a variety of tasks.
7. Flexible work hours: Today’s young professionals desire flexible working hours (with no overtime) and the option to work from home on certain days.
8. Want to be treated as equals: “The sense of equality that millennials learned from their friendships with parents and teachers growing up translates directly to the workplace. [They] expect everyone to be equal, and for there to be transparency, fairness – and no hierarchy,” says the report.
So in light of the above, what is the ideal company for today’s 20-somethings? “In the eyes of a millennial, an ideal company should allow them to sustain their personal lives at work. It should also offer them the opportunity to work in teams, preferably with others of their own age. There should be transparency, clear directions and constant feedback from managers and supervisors, with whom millennials expect to have a close relationship. In order to perform optimally, having the latest technology is a must, especially when it comes to communication.”