Article: Millennials- Who, Why and What?

Talent Management

Millennials- Who, Why and What?

By the year 2026, 64.8% of India’s population would be in the working age of 15-64 years. At present, roughly numbering more than 440 million Indian millennials are without any doubt the largest cohort across the world.
Millennials- Who, Why and What?

Diversity in an organisation goes beyond gender, sexuality and thoughts. Diversity interestingly includes generation. 

In an Indian workplace, there are 4 different generations in action- 

  • Baby Boomers 
  • Gen X 
  • Gen Y or Millennials 
  • Gen Z 

Generation Y or Millennial has been a focal point of study globally due to their inclusive relevance. Millennials represent 75% of the global workforce by 2025. 

By the year 2026, 64.8% of India’s population would be in the working age of 15-64 years. At present, roughly numbering more than 440 million Indian millennials are without any doubt the largest cohort  across the world. There is a tremendous talent not only strengthening the growth for the economy of India but also is a rich talent pool for other nations. This is what is referred to be as India’s demographic dividend. This term was disseminated by academicians, journalists and entrepreneurs who observed the country's youth as an asset in the longer run particularly compared to China. 

India’s median age according to the 2021 estimate by the CIA World Fact book is 28 years. This means half of the population is under the age of 28 years. 

Generation is an identifiable group that shares birth, years, age, location and significant life events at critical development stages. 

However, the crux of generation is that besides sharing the same birth year and age, generational context and generational unit is critical to understand the people from a particular generation. 

Generational context is connection between people that are created by shared experience of the same destiny and societal events whereas the generational unit refers to the informal organisation that forms and mirrors the style of a generation. 

People from the same birth group who share similar social and historical events may have similar values, characteristics and beliefs that differ from members of other cohorts. Their experience, environment as well as nurturing plays a pivotal role in shaping their behaviour. These generations have different world views, thought process and approach towards work. Eventually, these behaviours have a deep impact and view on the way of working, attitude towards organisation, their purpose, values and people as well as leadership. 

Life events of Millennials in India

Generation Y or Millennial in India is born between 1980 or early 1980 to 1996/1998. Life events of Millennials are very different from millennials across the globe. They experienced suburbanization and increased demand and supply of consumer FMCG goods, stability and prosperity in the economy, educational development, growing IT infrastructure, telecom boom, and fast developing companies with global presence. They experienced the opening up of the market through liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. In fact, many studies refer to Millennials as LPG kids. Due to foray of sudden modernization of lifestyles and advanced technology thrusted a rapid financial growth as well as uniformity of culture. This led to more jobs, economic independence, and there was exposure to global culture which was encountered for the first time post-independence. They experienced massive economic opportunities. 

All about Millennials

The millennials were born to baby boomers who were either on their way to giving a good life or aspired to give the best to their children. 

Millennials have grown up with technology hence they are masters of the internet. They are the generations spending hours being in the cyber café paying most of their pocket money. Hence, they are digital generation. Their need to access social media even at work as that gives them happiness. 

They are ambitious, entrepreneurial, and looking for a strong purpose at work. They are highly individualistic and materialistic. They aspire to have work life balance. 

Millennials had an opportunity to seek knowledge, know-how and they are considered to be self-centred. They look at technology as an enabler to optimise the workplace. They had an exposure to grow up and live with a diverse group of friends. Therefore, they welcome and acknowledge as well as appreciate diversity at work. They have a strong willingness to learn. 

They are not in awe of hierarchies and seniority. In fact, they look at mentors at the workplace. They want their manager to be a coach and facilitator. They like to be a part of an empowered culture and prefer a consultative leadership style.

Expectation from the organisation

As per research, only 29% of the millennials across the globe are engaged. 70% of Gen Z and millennials in India are likely to switch jobs this year. These days, this generation looks at organisation beyond a role and work. They want to resonate with the values of the organisation. Prior to joining an organisation, they would want to know how an organisation treats their customers. They are impatient. They don’t look at jobs as jobs anymore. They want to blend their work with life hence they expect work life balance. 

They are looking to seek expertise in their functional and technical domain however they are also seeking development opportunities around leadership, creativity, self-management and productivity. 

They want a clear career path and customised capability interventions and asynchronous learning as well as collaboration.

Expectation from the supervisor

This generation no more gets inspired by fancy designations or hierarchies. They don’t look at their supervisor as one who does performance conversation, appraisal discussions and gets work done. They are looking at a manager as a sponsor and mentor who can help him or her navigate the career path within the organisation. They are looking at senior leaders as their sponsors to grow and learn within the organisation. They want to explore cross functional learning.  They need instant gratification and feedback. They are a generation who have been exposed to digital technology. The number of likes and comments on social media makes them happy. They also like to share their achievements, accolades, recognition and rewards on social media as that provides them a sense of entitlement and enhances their self-esteem.  Likewise, at work they need their supervisor to let them know what is going well, not going well and what can be better with respect to their performance and their behaviour. 

Why do they behave the way they behave? 

As mentioned earlier, formative years of generation have a critical impact on their work values, attitude and thought process. Their environment- political, social, economic and the way they are nurtured has been an intrinsic force in shaping their behaviour. With every generation, people have progressed, they have worked towards a better life and the next generation has definitely seen a better standard of living. Millennials are the children of Baby boomers who have been paramount to provide the best of the education and exposure to their children. In fact, millennials have experienced diversity, more working women/mothers during their upbringing hence they are adaptable to diversity and inclusive workplace. While Millennials are perceived as spoiled, entitled and casual as well as found questioning everything around them. Let’s get deeper into this. During their early years at school, they are encouraged by their parents to ask questions, build and strengthen curiosity. In fact inquisitiveness as a trait is reinforced so that the child ask questions. If the question of the child is not answered during the class, parents might speak to the teacher and share the disappointment of their child being ignored. 

Success and failure are like black and white and there is definitely no other path. However, this generation has been nurtured with a thought of accentuating effort. When some millennial loses in the competition, parents always say it's ok, winning or losing is not important, what is important is making an effort and you did that. Hence, there was a focus on effort over achievement. In highly competitive activities such as sports, debates, there were no winners or losers because everyone received a certificate of participation. There was an environment of praise for anything. This environment promoted the development of high self-esteem, a high need of constant self-praise and a strong sense of self entitlement among millennials. 

When these millennials walk into the corporate world, there is a constant pressure to achieve and a bubble of constant praise for effort gets busted. Hence, strong needs of gratification, feedback around effort, sense of entitlement comes from their early formative years and the task even at work continues. There is a constant debate over target achievement Vs effort, success Vs effort. They are wired in a certain manner, therefore, their paradigm is different. 

Several organisations are taking multiple initiatives to make their workplace an inclusive institution for millennials. Their programs include reverse mentoring, shadowing, curating career paths, developmental programs and building and strengthening high performing teams. 

There have been multiple research stating ways of attracting, developing and retaining millennials. This has called for moving from traditional theories of career to boundary less career and protean careers. 

This allows an employee to become an owner of his or her own career and emphasise on job mobility in order to gain new skills and knowledge, find meaningful work and pursue new opportunities. 

With the majority of millennials in action at the workplace, organisations are looking at them as critical talent.  organisations can leverage their strengths and unleash their potential by providing them the right kind of ecosystem. 

While I am a millennial, trust me, we are not that difficult, just handle us with care. 


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Topics: Talent Management, #GuestArticle

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