“Millenials? Hell NO!”
That’s probably the most likely response you will get when you ask if a company has room for new ‘young’ talent. But why? Why are many employers shunning this new generation yet they are literally the future? Many recruiters will confess that sometimes (or more often) they have been given specific instructions not to engage these young people fresh from college. Just peruse through these many job adverts and you’ll see something like “Must be 29 years and above”. Isn’t this not discrimination? Someone might ask.
The Company Culture
We can unanimously agree that majority of the companies are still based on an ancient model, regardless of their time of formation. Many company cultures are still anchored on traditional structures. We are used to ‘the head’ of the particular department being the oldest or longest serving staff member in the room. Isn’t that traditional? I have heard from a certain school of thought that the younger generation ‘does not blend into organizational cultures’. How true? That the younger generation ‘will most likely break the rules and may not perform as required.’
I find it absurd that in an ever-changing world as the one we live in today, people (or employers for that matter) find consensus in denying the younger generation an opportunity. But wait. If it is true that ‘millenials’ befit this general narrative, where should we apportion the blame? There is a common saying in Swahili that a child’s development in all aspects is always directly proportional to their society’s mode of upbringing. “Umleavyo ndivyo akuavyo”. So, in light of this, is it appropriate to shift the blame to the former generation?
The Modern Company
I work in an organization made up of this ‘dreaded’ generation. Autonomy is a common feature in our organization. The first thing you will learn once you get on board is “do whatever you believe is necessary, make the choice you believe will bring results.” I believe this is how a modern organization should be. Many researches have proven that people thrive well in environments where they believe they have some sort of control. No one wants to be sheep, being led by a shepherd and caned when you step out of the line that you did not participate in drawing.
I read an article where the writer was giving parental advice on how to raise millenials. Part of the conclusion the writer made was that ‘millenials will most likely stick to the rules that they participated in creating.’ So she was urging parents and society to let the young people bring their suggestions to the table and use them for their own accountability. She gave an example of her own home and how she has been able to maintain harmony and contain rebellion from her children using this method. It is, however, not guaranteed that it will suffice in all scenarios. There are bound to be outliers.
In light of the above assertions, what should employers do to accommodate the younger generation? Young people, mostly born in the 90s all the way down, also have a life to lead and a career to build. There should not be a universal denial of opportunities for younger people just because there is a breakdown between generational values. Encourage much flexibility in terms of work and involve them in making crucial decisions that may affect their work directly. There has to be a common ground. There has to be somewhere to start. You never know: you might be denying your company the very ingredient that it needs to hit those goals you set!
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