When the current generation of business leaders – myself included – learn more and more about the radical change in the workforce, we may feel surprised and even shocked. More and more young workers are ready to move towards something new before they have had time to settle.

“Millennials” represent the age groups born between the early 1980s and the turn of the millennium. Their share of the global workforce will rise to 75 per cent by 2025, according to McKinsey. In the Nordics, too, already more than a half of the workforce are millennials.

It is good that young people are entering the labour market, but what kind of people are they? They are very different employees compared to the ones we leaders have been accustomed to. Every fifth millenial will change jobs within their first year, and more than half of them say they are looking for a new job. More than one in three plans to change jobs within two years of starting.

Not just a system reform!

As a leader I wonder: What the heck?! Why invest in people if they are ready to leave as soon as they are settled? Well, we have to invest if we want to keep the wheels turning and take the company forward. At the same time, we need to ensure that people stay longer than for a year or two – including millennials. This is not an easy task.

I recently listened to a description of millennials and the change in working life by management consultant Atte Mellanen. It made me pause and think.

There are only a few years left to get leadership and the work environment into a shape that is suitable for millennials. But first we need to understand what is expected of us. Improving employee experience is not just a system reform.

Millennials will have the biggest impact in the expert fields, but the change will equally shake all industries. The new generation has grown up with automation and digitality. These elements are also must-haves in the work environment. Even more important is the possibility to grow and evolve in one’s work. Millennials are looking for jobs that allow rapid professional development. This is more a matter of substance than a career path.

In addition to the fear of commitment, we need to tackle burnout. According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, as many as 87% of people aged 25–32 have experienced symptoms of burnout. The question is: How can we simultaneously engage people while also improving productivity and well-being at work?

A new kind of employee experience is needed

By understanding the background factors listed by Atte Mellanen, you will be able to build a new kind of employee experience. Millennials seek meaning, are at the same time demanding and impatient, are less capable of coping with disappointment than their parents, and do not feel loyalty to the employer. The importance of individual leadership is emphasised.

Alongside these demands and a changing workforce, McKinsey points out the rapid mobility of customer and delivery networks, as well as digitalisation that revolutionises old ways of doing things.

In summary, millennials require that the offered tools and the entire environment with its latest technologies give them a real opportunity for self-fulfilment – in an effective manner and without leading to exhaustion.

What does this sound like to you? Are you now ready to try to get a millenial to commit?

 

Sami Karkkila is the CEO of Sofigate, a growth company specialising in business technology change. Sofigate has 600 employees in Finland, Sweden and Denmark. The company plans to increase its turnover from 100 million euros to 500 million euros by 2025. In the Karkkila blog series, the CEO reflects on sustainable growth management in a new, continuously changing reality.

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