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How to Make Your Organization More Millennial-friendly ?

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Millennials are known for having complicated views about work and their employers. And that’s putting it lightly.

While they’ve been stereotyped as lazy, inept, and impatient, they’re also a generation with unprecedented grievances. This includes enormous amounts of student debt, greater obstacles to home ownership, and the worsening problem of income inequality. This has led to growing dissatisfaction among millennials about the economy and employment.

But views about millennials in the workplace may be misguided. For example, research shows that many millennials actually work longer hours. They’re also hungry for success, so much so that it’s driving eight out of 10 Singaporean millennials to experience a quarter-life crisis, according to a LinkedIn survey.

It should come as no surprise, then, why this generation of workers is more concerned about maintaining work-life balance. This, in turn, has caused them to be more selective about the organisations they work for.

In any case, millennials now make up the largest generation in the working population in Singapore. By 2020, they are forecasted to account for 35 per cent of the global workforce.

For some companies, this can be a frightening prospect. Even if you were to set aside the stigma attached to millennials, how exactly do you inspire passion and loyalty in this generation?

Based on my experience as a Millennials Coach for companies, here’s what I would usually share as some common best practices for employers to reinvent their work practices and thereby, raising their #EmployerBranding:

1. Flexibility Of Work

A Deloitte study found that 50 percent of young workers consider flexible work hours as being “very important.” However, in Singapore, only 33 percent of companies said that more than half of their workforce sometimes works flexibly, according to a report by software company Condeco.

One primary paradigm shift that managers can embrace is that flexibility may not always lead to abuse. In fact, with proper set-up and drawing of ground rules, it can breed a culture of trust and independence from a ground-up stance.

What employers are doing

Content marketing agency With Content is one such company offering flexible work hours and work locations, along with annual company retreats in a different country, all of which are designed to make employees happy and more productive.[1]

What you can do

Give your employees the freedom to work at their own pace and follow their own processes. This will also show that you trust them to do their own thing—something millennials value greatly.

If you’re worried about losing control of your team, consider having specific days where the team still has the regular face-time and on others, the flexibility to work remotely.

2. Offer Clear Opportunities for Career Growth and Development

Research by Randstad Singapore shows that among Singaporean workers, expectations for ‘career progression opportunities’ have increased to 42 percent in 2018, up from 38 per cent the previous year.

Perhaps most interesting is that half of younger workers between the ages of 18 and 24 considered career development as a crucial requirement in a company, which could suggest that they’re more ambitious about their careers.

Best practices during the onboarding process can include a matchmaking session with a senior leader (or mentor) in the company to help facilitate career discovery and also, knowing both the explicit and latent rules of progression within the company.

What employers are doing

In the public sector in Singapore, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) promises access to a diverse range of career development opportunities. Employees can move between A*STAR’s 19 different departments, allowing them to develop different skill sets and explore niche areas according to their desired career path.

What you can do

Consider launching training and mentorship programs, sponsoring slots to industry conferences, or creating a clear outline for how employees can move up the organisation. This will give millennials a sense of direction and ambition, motivating them to be the best versions of themselves.

3. Provide Opportunities to Make an Impact in the Local Community

Millennials want their work to matter, and care deeply about the moral implications of working for your company. Because work takes up a significant amount of their day-to-day life, they feel that it’s in and through the workplace where they can make an impact on the community.

What employers are doing

LinkedIn offers opportunities to join corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities through the employee-led LinkedIn for Good (LIFG) initiative.

Established in 2010, LIFG seeks to provide job seekers in underserved communities with access to resources and networks to build meaningful careers. The program also provides learning and networking opportunities for employees, allowing them to gain new insights on corporate life.

What you can do

SMEs might think that CSR activities only add to their already high operating costs. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Volunteering to read to children at the local orphanage, helping seniors do their shopping, or joining marathons are activities that only require your time.

Most importantly, CSR activities should not be merely done for CSR sake. What can be powerful experiences is for your employees to be able to get in touch with the very beneficiaries of the business they are in. For example, a pharmaceutical company can enable more touch points and stories to be shared between patients and employees of the company.

Likewise, volunteering can also go beyond the usual agenda into the realm of skills-based volunteerism or career mentoring. The possibilities are endless but the goal should always be the alignment to the mission of the organisation and / or the inclinations of the employees.

4. Forge & Communicate a Clearly Defined Company Culture

Millennials want to know what you stand for, whether you share their values, and what your working environment looks like. In one survey, for example, 83 percent of millennials said they were unwilling to work for a company engaged in corrupt practices.

What employers are doing

Online marketplace Carousell describes its company culture as casual and progressive, but with a clear focus on its mission to “inspire every person in the world to start selling and buying to make more possible for one another.”

Like many other startups, the company also offers flexible working hours and a comfortable workplace. The company also maintains a flat hierarchy and diverse workforce, allowing different opinions to be heard, regardless of rank and role.

What you can do

Figure out what your company believes in to create your employer value proposition, which is basically a statement that shows job seekers why they should work for you.

Identifying your culture is one thing, promoting it is another. Millennials are attracted to like-minded people, so find a suitable young worker to represent your organisation when sourcing and hiring talent.

And we like to think that company culture is quite simply – what your employees will say about your company to their friends when their bosses are not around. So it helps having town halls, intimate fireside chats or forums for the founders or management to often share their “WHY” behind the company and their personal stories.

5. Give Them a Voice

Millennials are more than happy to leave their employers if they feel that no one is listening to them in the organisation.

According to the latest World Economic Forum Global Shapers Survey, young individuals feel their voice isn’t being heard in general society, with 55.9 percent disagreeing with the statement:

“In my country, young people’s views are considered before important decisions are taken.”

Unsurprisingly, these beliefs also extend to the workplace. Millennials don’t expect to have a say in everything, but they nevertheless appreciate being given a chance to speak about work policies, especially those that affect them directly.

What employers are doing

Winning Aon Hewitt’s “Best Employer” award in 2016, the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore is praised by employees for its open-door policy where any staff with a problem, a suggestion to improve work, or any other urgent matter can approach the hotel’s management without an appointment.

What you can do

While you don’t necessarily need to have a flat organisational structure, keeping staff engaged and encouraging them to share their thoughts and ideas with management will go a long way towards making them feel valued.

In the age of social, it may be a fun proposition to have your employees #TakeOver your social platforms and showcase your corporation in a day over your social feeds (like Instagram Story). Alternatively for key occasions, take a look at what a traditionally conventional Big-4 accounting firm did to celebrate Christmas last year in 2018.

The very fact that it wasn’t a professionally-produced video but went “viral” (500+ reactions, 30+ comments and 130+ shares) on Facebook says a lot about what corporations can do to harness the organic power of #EmployerBranding on #SocialMedia.

And yes, I can’t get that “smart locker near my pantry” out of my mind now.

Millennials Aren’t Coming, They’re Already Here! ?

As millennials make up an increasingly large percentage of the workforce, companies need to re-evaluate their workplace practices to make themselves more attractive to this generation of employees. Your company needs these people if it doesn’t want to get left behind by the competition.

These pointers are also particularly helpful when it comes to Generation Z, the cohort after millennials, born between 1997 and 2010. Like millennials, Gen Zers are adept with technology, not knowing the world before the Internet and smartphones. But while millennials are primarily motivated by purpose, Gen Zers are focused on job and financial security, according to one study. This may be due to their experience of seeing their parents struggle during the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. Generation Z employees also value diversity, believing it to be an asset in the workplace.

Bottom line? While these tips are geared towards making your organization friendlier to millennials, they ultimately benefit employees across all generations in the long run.

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