How organisations can look after their Millennials

The definition of a ‘millennial’ is widely accepted as a person born between the 1980’s and the year 2000, sometimes known as Generation Y. Millennials are the generation who have grown up with mobile technology as the norm, who Deloitte predict will make up the majority of the global workforce by 2025. Sometimes regarded as ‘needy’ by the older generation in the workplace and with a reputation of not staying in a role for very long, the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017 reports that overall, ‘millennials want stability in an ever increasing unstable world’. This is a complete turnaround from the findings in 2016, where two-thirds of millennials were thinking of leaving their jobs in the near future, perhaps reinforcing the notion that millenials are often regarded as unpredictable and unreliable in the workplace.

This interview with Simon Sinek about millennials in the work environment went viral, after he explained why this particular generation “have it so tough” at work.  It is simply not their fault he argues, because they have had everything provided for them, and they’ve never experienced real failure. Sinek says it is the duty of the corporation, to look after their millennial workforce. Richard Branson recently tweeted some of the perks they offer to the younger generation at Virgin, including no ties and a ‘call me Richard’ culture as he describes in his blog ‘How to lead the next generation’.

So how can a company attract and help younger employees? Sarah Brewer, Associate Trainer with Mental Health at Work, says working with the whole person, retaining and working with a new cohort of workers, or the ‘millennial generation’ is incredibly important:

“They have a huge amount to bring to the workplace, but they want openness and they want honesty.  Their employer of choice is someone who will work with them.  If you won’t, there is an organisation down the road that will, and they will leave. Or they may join you, but within months they will be scanning the market to move on”

“I know there’s a bit of tension at times, that my generation of the baby-boomers interpret millennial’s behaviour as needy. I find that a strange concept. They want feedback, they want to know how they’re doing and a manager needs to be prepared for this.”

Asked how to attract and retain younger talent, encompassing a positive mental health attitude in the workplace, Sarah suggested there are various charters an organisation can sign up to, like Mindful Employer or the Lord Mayor’s Charter.

“Active charters have much more value than just signing a pledge” says Sarah. By acknowledging as a company, she says, that you take an employee’s mental health just as seriously as their physical health.

Pledges however need to be supported by the reality of a millennial’s experience in the workplace, and managers need to be prepared to have open conversations about mental health.  This doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but training in understanding and managing mental health can bridge this gap and make everyone feel more comfortable.

At Mental Health at Work we promote good mental health in the workplace through training and bespoke best-practise programmes to help organisations and their employees manage mental health as an integral part of working life.


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