Give Millennials the chance to help you shape your workforce for the future.
The Millennial generation (roughly those born between 1981 and 1996) is fast becoming a major component of the South African workforce. Like generations before them, they bring a fresh perspective into the workplace and they have the potential to reshape corporate thinking and change the landscape. Rather than seeking to get them to conform to traditional ways of doing things, it’s crucial to listen to Millennials and give them freedom to tackle the challenges that businesses face with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
This tech-savvy generation doesn’t know what it is like to live without the Internet and digital devices. They don’t have the luxury of denying the existence of global warming or continuing to fuel growth through fossil fuels. Millennials also haven’t all had a very positive experience of the workplace, with many of them unemployed or possibly only employed part-time or in jobs that aren’t their first choice.
Millennials are often described as open-minded, confident, self-expressive, liberal, optimistic and open to new ideas. More so than their parents or grandparents, they seek a work and home life balance. For employers seeking to provide a meaningful package of benefits to their employees, it’s always been a challenge to design group benefits to suit differing needs. Millennials introduce yet another set of needs that might be broadly similar to previous generations, but with some of their own quirks and idiosyncrasies.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that “Millennials are very concerned about financial wellness, with 64% stating they are stressed about their finances.” Financial pressure due to outstanding study loans and the scarcity of jobs has forced many Millennials to live with their parents well into their twenties, marry at a later stage in life and, as a consequence, have children at a later stage – if at all. The 2019 Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor also indicated that 56% of 18-29 year olds who partook in the survey, still lived with their parents in their homes.
As a result, life insurance, for example, may not be as important to all Millennials. However, it would be wrong to think of Millennials as a homogenous group with the same circumstances and needs. Employee benefit packages need to be flexible to cater for the individual financial requirements of all employees at different stages of their lives, including Millennials.
Millennials are attracted to a culture of honesty and trust. They want to know that their employers are sincerely considering their needs. They want flexibility and they want to feel empowered. The process must be transparent, communication must be empowering, and Millennials must be given the opportunity to influence decisions that affect their unique circumstances.
It goes without saying that these denizens of the digital age prefer to engage with their employee benefits, as well as any other financial solutions, via a smart phone. Not only is a digital solution a more effective and cost-efficient way of communicating benefits and values to employees, it’s actually valued more highly by Millennials, and increasingly by older generations too.
Millennials are looking for customised benefits that they feel address their specific needs. They are not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ generation. Social media has given Millennials a voice and they have many platforms on which to speak out. They want to understand, learn and make decisions in a collaborative manner.
Meeting the needs of an evolving workforce
Employers who embrace this new generation of workers are better placed to navigate the rapidly changing environment driven by the digital revolution, robotics, drones, sustainability, singularity, self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence, new wonder materials like graphene and the possibility of humans living beyond 150. If any of these concepts seem like Greek to you, it is advisable to hire a few Millennials to help you prepare your business for the future.
As consultants to employers of all shapes, industries and sizes, we at Old Mutual Corporate Consultants are also adapting ours own workforce to ensure we have the skills, experience and relevance to speak to your needs and that of all your staff. The one thing that unites our consultants of all generations is their focus on delivering sound financial outcomes for your employees.
Malusi Ndlovu is the Managing Director of Old Mutual Corporate Consultants.