70% of the workforce at some organisations including ours is millennial. Over the last 3 years we have learnt a lot around what is the ideal millennial work culture and things that millennials look for in a job. Indeed, this is interesting when the endeavour of hiring right is combined with it!
What do millennials want in a job?
An eye-opener for me personally is an interview I took of a girl, Nish, who had recently graduated from college. She was being interviewed for the role of business development. Nish was from a top college and had graduated in Computer Sciences. She knew one thing for sure, she could not see herself becoming a code jock. She wanted to try out the world of marketing and digital sales.
Duly impressed by her people smarts and general abilities, I asked her what was her dream company. She mentioned a competitors name. Why would you want to join that company?
She said the company allows me to be me. It finds opportunities and gives me space to be myself. What exactly does being myself mean to you? Well, they don’t enforce artificial expectations, structures and more.
What sort of expectations are you talking about?
Well, I can wear what I like. I am a late riser and I can meet deadlines but let me work the way I want. Don’t judge me and keep my work refreshing. Mentor me to learn, give me space to try out and let me gain confidence from my successes. Give me tough challenges to overcome. I want to learn but personalise it for me and give me opportunities to have fun, stay excited about what I achieve, what impact I bring to the organisation.
Craft an experience for me so that I feel it to be personalised and special. Give me the opportunities to interact with the world and give me direction on possibilities. Don’t put me on a steep curve to adjust to the organisation, since this will be my first job, transition me in. Let me fail and learn but don’t micromanage me. Instead, guide me and mentor me.
This was an eye opener. I was blown away by the clarity of thought and the maturity in a 21-year-old. She was telling me exactly how we should set up the organisation. If I had an open and learning mind, we could create a millennial work culture to win and win with millennials.
What did I do? I came back to work and started wearing shorts to work. Had not realised that though I dressed casually in jeans and T-shirts, I had not messaged to the organisation that it was cool to be yourself. And the shorts were cool (literally). Sandals were the in-thing, stuck up was out. It took some weeks but people started observing — sometimes teasing.
Setting the action up worked much better than guidelines and policy. The action of wearing shorts in a management position got others going too. A couple of weeks down, a few appeared wearing shorts to work. Then on a Friday a whole group showed up in shorts and sandals. Cool — we had momentum and acceptance. This gave me insights on what are millennials looking for.
Nish accepted our offer and has been with us for more than a year now. In fact, she is leading the charge on business development. The ideas and hunger she gets to close on sales and spreading the brand are infectious. Others have picked up on it and that is great. The seed we sowed keeping an open mind, listening and choosing to fit in with our primary constituency rather than expecting them to fit in some stoic notion of hierarchy and traditional command and control is working wonders.
Yes, I was constantly wondering what are millennials looking for and I learned the lessons at the right time. And these lessons of the importance of hiring right will hold steady in the long term as we redefine how innovation is driving growth at Coviam. Our open environment is flourishing. Thanks, Nish, and godspeed.