CHENNAI: India is well on its way to becoming the youngest country in 2021. According to the 2013-14 economic survey, more than 64 per cent of the workforce is between the ages of 20 and 35. The latest economic survey suggests that the number of young people in offices across sectors will only increase in the next half a decade.
As this group of tech-friendly, social media-savvy, fast-moving individuals slowly take over the workplace, they have forced Human Resources to constantly reinvent their methods and approaches. Most organisations are seeing rapid changes in their work culture but with more than two- thirds of millennials saying they’d jump jobs by 2020 (Deloitte’s annual millennial study), time is definitely of the essence.
Ahead of the NATCON 2018 — Corporate Innovation: Stories of Inspiration for Sustainability and Growth — brought out by the Chennai Chapter of the Indian Society for Training and Development (ISTD), we asked their national president, Gemba’ R Karthikeyan to decode the millennial worker.
How are millenials different from the older workforce?
Millennials have a completely different value system from the older workforce. They want to taste the fruit of their labour while they are working. (This could be a vacation or a weekend trek). The older workforce believed in working hard until retirement and then unwinding. The fact that they are unable to handle delayed gratification is a key factor that sets them apart.
What motivates them?
Millennials are generally self-driven. Selfishness can actually be a virtue. They, however, are open to working in teams for a shared interest. A sense of purpose is also an important factor that drives these youngsters.
Is depression a serious issue for millenials?
Yes, depression has become an epidemic among millennials. There were very few cases of clinical depression 30 years back. This number has increased. It’s usually the toxic combination of worthlessness, helplessness, and hopelessness that cages the millennial.
How do you bridge the gap between millennials and the older workforce?
The older workforce has to acknowledge that things have changed not only in the workplace but in the world around them. Twenty years ago, asking a younger female colleague when she planned to get married was acceptable. It isn’t anymore. Gone are the days of monthly HR meetings and rangoli competitions. A continuous engagement and intervention will help the two groups of the workforce find commonality.
With millennials driving the #MeToo movement, should Human Resources change the way they handle sexual harassment complaints?
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a major issue across sectors and millennials are more sensitive than their older peers to this issue. Human Resources personnel need to make the environment more conducive for victims to talk about it. Removing the fear of backlash is essential. Things will change only if more women climb the corporate ladder.
(‘Gemba’ R Karthikeyan is a clinical psychologist by qualification and has over two decades of experience in the human resources sector )