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Valuing Millennials In The Workplace

Millennials now officially make up nearly 50 percent of the Bahamian workforce. They are who they are, and they bring with them the full range of their domestication. It is undeniable that millennials are valuable to the 21st century workforce.

Here is some of what they teach older generation team members:

• New Technology: This is the most obvious area. Whether it is computers, PDAs or any other device with bits and bytes, chances are younger workers know how to use it. If they do not, they are comfortable learning how. And, like most people with a skill, they are usually happy to pass on what they know.

• Diversity: Younger workers come from diverse households and backgrounds. Their “wider perspectives” can help open older workers’ eyes to the changing world and workforce.

• Job-Hopping: Older workers have been told that only bad, disloyal or incompetent employees leave. While older workers may regard career change as negative, young people understand that it can be fulfilling, energising - even life-changing.

• Risk Taking: Younger workers are extremely entrepreneurial. They are excellent out-of-the-box thinkers. That is especially true compared to people who have spent their careers respecting corporate hierarchies and processes, and not taking a lot of risks. Though that was not necessarily bad in earlier times, a new era demands a new way of thinking.

• Balancing Work/Life Issues: Older workers have not done so well with family and work-life balance issues. Younger workers are not career-driven, and can teach older employees a little about fulfilling their own personal dreams while still making a valuable contribution on the job.

Despite the obvious blessing young people are to today’s workforce, they are still treated warily. In addition, millennials themselves have begun to lament how they are perceived and treated as professionals in the Bahamian workforce.

So, to every team member and leader over the age of 40, listen up as Clifford and Danielle share their “millennial hearts” in the form of a WISH LIST geared towards improved generational working relations:

Wish 1: A company with a clear mission. A strong corporate identity allows for millennials to represent the company with a sense of pride and confidence in what they are working towards.

Wish 2: Proper compensation for level of education, even if the person is single with no offspring.

Wish 3: Succession Training. A management team that is committed to employee mentoring and company succession.

Wish 4: Understanding of current office attire trends. Please update the 1970 office apparel standards, and recognise that fashion trends come and go with times and seasons.

Wish 5: Millennials value the ability to work from anywhere. Managers who value hours in office versus results will not fare well with millennial employees. Isn’t this the purpose of technology?

I know, it is a whole lot to absorb. But for the sake of harmony and productivity, it is certainly worth considering.

• NB: Ian R Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at iferguson@bahamas.com.

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