The HRM Challenge: Managing the Millennials Entering the Workforce
Who are the Millennials and What are their Characteristics?
The Millennials or those born between 1985 and 2000 are entering the workforce in large numbers. This generation is perhaps the most unique in the history of modern world since they are the first to have come of age during the Digital Age.
Having grown up with the Internet and the Smartphone, the Millennials are more wired and more connected than any other generation in history. Moreover, they are the ones who have grown up as Single Children and to Parents, both of whom were working.
In addition, they are also described as the Most Entitled Generation as they were not only rewarded for coming second in the race, but also for merely participating in it.
Thus, this Age Cohort presents unique challenges to HRM or Human Resource Management professionals as far as dealing with them is concerned.
Challenges in Managing the Millennials
For instance, as mentioned above, they are very wired and connected which means that they make extensive use of Social Media which means that HR managers have to accordingly be receptive to their extensive Social Media browsing at work.
While security concerns typically make organizations wary of providing Social Media access at the workplace, the fact that the Millennials use their Own Devices or the so-called BYOD or Bring Your Own Device provisions of organizational policies mean that HR managers cannot keep them away from their devices.
This presents a challenge that needs to be handled in an astute manner. Moreover, the Millennials are also know to communicate even officially through Social Media which means that HR managers have to keep pace with such changes in organizational communication policies.
Tech Savvy and Tech Addicted Millennials and the Challenges for HR Managers
Having said that, it is not the case that the Millennials are the generation that breaks All the Rules. Indeed, it is a fact that they are innately and intuitively drawn to technology which means that they are capable of inventing and creating technologically cutting edge solutions.
This means that HR managers in any sector and all sectors would have to leverage technology if they are to manage the Millennials.
We mentioned all sectors since the Millennials do not necessarily have to be in Tech or Knowledge work firms to be tech savvy and instead, wherever and whichever firm they are in, they are so adept and addicted to technology which means that the HR professionals have to be tech savvy consequently.
However, as mentioned, the Millennials fascination and love with technology means that they are also distracted easily and organizational behavioural theorists point to how this sense of distraction means that Deep Work or work that needs extreme focus and concentration, not to mention longer attention spans would suffer.
Thus, to manage this challenge, HR managers would have to either remove the distractions from the workplace to the extent possible or simply assign such work to others.
Political and Polarized Millennials and How HR Managers need to Address Them
The Millennials are also extremely political and polarized (we use the terms interchangeably as in the current political climate, both equal each other). This means that there are high chances of Coffee Break Discussions turning political and serious which can lead to conflicts and worse at the workplace.
Already, as can be seen from the Employee Activism in Google, the organization had to back out of Defence Projects as its politically empowered and engaged employees were vehemently opposed to partnering with the Pentagon.
This has serious implications for the future as this Neo Labour Unionism can make even White Collar work unionized which is the direction in which many of the Millennial staffed Tech firms and other Knowledge Work firms are headed.
In addition, as far as Diversity and Inclusivity is concerned, the Millennials are likewise so polarized on this issue that HR managers would have to Tread a Fine Line as far as handling issues related to Gender and Racial Discrimination are concerned.
Indeed, taken together the activism of the Millennials means that HR professionals long used to dealing with the previous Age Cohorts, the Boomers, and the Gen Xers who while being engaged and activist did not cross the line toward full blown conflicts at the workplace have to now reckon with the Millennials who view these issues in a more polarized manner.
HRM Policy Challenges and the Most Unique Generation
Turning to other challenges, the Millennials are also more likely to demand more Work from Home or Remote Work options in addition to being amenable to Part Time Work and Non Health and Social Security Benefits contracts.
While the latter can be Music to the Ears of the HR managers, the former would mean that they would have to be more flexible. What all these challenges mean is that the Millennials are unlike any other Age Cohort that has come before them.
While this was true for each generation which presented unique challenges, the Millennials having come of age at the Turn of the Millennium are the Harbingers of the New Era and hence, would have to be managed accordingly.
Moreover, the Millennials carry extensive Student Debt and hence, HR Managers can expect them to negotiate hard for some sort of compensation structure that includes debt payoff options.
This in addition to their penchant for not leaving their Parents Homes until into their 30s means that this needs to be factored by the HR managers when dealing with them. To conclude, the Millennials would shape the direction of organizational strategy for the next few decades and hence, it would be better for the HR managers to adapt to the challenges.
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