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Millennials Really Love To Work. Here’s How To Keep Them Hooked

Value them as people first, and then as employees

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BY Tricia V. Morente - 31 May 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Here’s a fact that might surprise you: Even if they won the lottery, 80 percent of people—millennials, included—would still want to keep their jobs.

Sure, these lucky ducks would probably spend a few weeks off traipsing around the globe (for a month or two, as this writer would), but at the end of the day, reveals Adobe’s Work In Progress report, people would actually want to go back to work. In fact, 76 percent even favor “working more hours on jobs they enjoy over fewer hours at occupations they dislike,” and 41 percent admit to “actively thinking about work on days off.”

Given that people love working, why are employers, especially in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, finding themselves “increasingly concerned” that they will soon be unable to find the talent they need to succeed?

The answer revolves around engagement. “The technological and cultural shifts ushered in by the digital revolution have drastically changed the way employees approach work opportunities,” states the report. If you’re a founder, what this simply means is that you need to reevaluate the way you think about hiring, recruiting, and retaining your employees.

Nailing Corporate Culture

With many of today’s workforce comprising millennials, you should know that one of three key things they look for in a potential company—according to this Inc. article—is work culture.

For Myanmar fintech start-up WaveMoney, CEO Brad Jones has put in place a culture that celebrates his employees’ diversity. “We have 14 nationalities working in the office and are very much practiced on leveraging the strength of our workforce,” shares Jones, adding that one way diversity is recognized is by holding activities like International Food days where employees bring in food unique to their home countries and explain how their cuisine is different. “It’s interesting because in Myanmar alone, it’s a nation of many ethnic groups so those particular events are awesome because we’re exposed to the country’s different ethnic groups,” he says.

Aaron Brooks, the co-founder of Visual Amplifiers (VAMP), ranks culture at VAMP as the most important part of the business. “These are the people whom you spend more time with than family. We give our team the autonomy in their roles to be successful and make decisions with our support,” he says, adding that he doesn’t like the word “management.” “In VAMP, we are a team,” he says. The same Adobe report affirms this, adding that “more companies will embrace flexible workspace solutions, BYOD policies, and co-working memberships. Ultimately, the mindset of working 8-5 in a cube has changed.”

Securing Millennial Talent Lies in Recognition

Ad tech company AdAsia Holdings’ co-founder Kosuke Sogo is no stranger to millennials. “Majority of our workforce are millennials who value professional and personal progress highly,” says Sogo.

As such, AdAsia Holdings finds itself with an unconventional employee recognition and promotions program. “We decided not to have fixed promotion dates,” says Sogo. “If someone shows strong and consistent results for a few months, they will be an immediate candidate for promotion. Performance and salary reviews are biannual, and employees know the requirements to climb the corporate ladder. We also have monthly, quarterly, and annual awards for the best performing staff—which come with a nifty cash prize,” adds Sogo. Another trick up this founder’s sleeve? Let them in on vital company information. “We’ve decided to be as transparent as possible—revenue and profit figures are shared each month to update all staff on the progress of our business,” he says.

Instill Genuine Confidence in Your Leadership

Even employees belonging to the older generation would agree with millennials on this: nobody wants an impossible prick for a boss.

Trust and confidence in leadership is one of the key drivers of engagement. This Inc. article asserts that millennials prefer having managers “who coach them, someone who guides them along the way but still gives them trust and freedom to work things out on their own.” For those millennials who fit the stereotype of being “impatient and entitled,” the same article suggests acting as mentors “who value them as people first, and then employees.”

For former VEEM founder Aldo Carrascoso, beyond forming the right team, the serial entrepreneur shares that leaders need to inspire employees and sell the company’s vision compellingly enough. “Personally for me, you also need to be able to question the status quo—never be happy with what’s happening around you. You want to change and improve people’s lives. A good start-up entrepreneur should have the ability to form, empower, and enrich his team,” he says.