For my recent master thesis, I’ve conducted own research, to answer the question about how millennials influence changes in the way’s companies are managed. The hypothesis behind the presented research says that millennials as a growing group of employees in companies have a very large impact on changes in management methods.
The subject of the research were companies from the business services sector. The companies have been selected from the members of the largest association of business services sector companies in Poland. ABSL is an association of over 200 companies employing over 170,000 employees. The aim of the study was to estimate the size of the millennials group in the surveyed companies and their impact on the companies in which they work especially in the context of management methods.
The research was conducted in the form of a CAWI survey. The answers collected were anonymous from the group of people to whom the survey was sent. The survey was conducted from March 3 to 11, 2020. The survey was sent to a selected group of directors or HR managers / specialists of selected companies.
As part of the study, the respondents received 10 questions to confirm or deny the hypothesis presented. The answers came from respondents from 10 different companies, out of 50 questionnaires sent out.
In the first question, the respondents were asked about the participation of people aged 25 to 35 in the total number of employees. The answers showed a significant share of millennials in the group of employees for companies for which information on the percentage distribution could be drawn from the answers.
The KPMG report from 2017 mentioned in earlier blog posts predicted that millennials by 2020 will constitute 50% of employees, and by 2030 this number will increase to 75%. The presented analysis shows that in 8 out of 9 companies surveyed this indicator exceeds 50%, and the average for the presented companies is already approaching the indicator of 75%. The collected results confirm the research assumption that millennials are a large group of employees, which plays an important role in the total number of employees of the companies from the business services sector.
The purpose of the next question was to understand whether companies are building a coherent employee management strategy related to age differences. The answers collected for this question show that to some extent companies are trying to build their strategy and relations with employees, noticing the needs related to age groups, but they are not limited to age, they expand them to the social and family context of employees.
The next question examined the respondents’ perceived challenges in working with millennials as employees. The most frequently appearing answers are presented graphically below.
The most frequently mentioned challenge related to generation Y as employees was involvement, which concerned both the issue of involvement in the relationship with the employer and in relation to the tasks performed. As a result, we can mention the answer regarding loyalty to the employer and organizations that are a challenge, keeping in the employee in the long run. In this context, one can recall the Deloitte report cited in earlier posts. It shows millennials great openness to change employers. Another important element mentioned was the need for frequent feedback that was presented in earlier posts as well. Especially regarding the need for positive feedback.
In this context, one should also mention the negative feedback response, which focuses on the problem of accepting just negative feedback. The next two answers relate to confidence in quickly acquired knowledge, and thus questioning authorities and questioning the existing situation, which was also discussed in earlier chapters. These elements largely address the need for change in internal communication and search for new channels and ways of communication with employees. An often-recurring element was the issue of the distribution of time at work from private time, and more precisely the search for a balance between professional and personal involvement. Another element mentioned was the group’s claim to meet the expectations.
The next question was about the positive qualities that millennials bring to the organization. Some of the positive features presented coincided with the previously mentioned negative features, which was marked as a positive challenge that has a good impact for changes in organizations.
One of the most common answers was about the ease with which the millennials adapt to changes at work. With this element, it is worth combining answers regarding open communication and the emphasis they put on it, as well as cooperation with new technologies that are not a barrier for them. Especially since the Y generation puts the will to develop and learn. The creativity and innovation mentioned in the responses can also be linked to the fact that millennials as a generation question corporate language or authorities, which was mentioned on the occasion of negative issues. This means that they want to develop further and look for new solutions, which is noticed and appreciated by employers. It is built on confidence, which was mentioned in earlier chapters, which results from adolescence and relationship with parents. Employers also note that millennials have a positive impact on both the atmosphere at work and the dynamics of work. An approach was also indicated to a balanced division between work and personal life as a positive example. The paradigm changes, we live to work, we work to live.
The next question refers to the issue of employer branding and the actions that companies take in its framework to meet the expectations of employees and improve the image of the company as an employer. Respondents list the various actions they take. Below is a list summarizing the answers collected.
- The most important element on which the company focuses is the work environment in the organization, directly affecting employees.
- Flexible working hours have been introduced
- Activities under CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) are undertaken, involving employees in activities
- Diversity promotion activities aimed at involving employees from different social and ethnic groups, different sexual orientations and ensuring work in a safe environment
- Programs targeted at university graduates to encourage them to read the job offers
- Paid internship programs
- Participation in various events and conferences as an organization and enabling its employees to participate in them
- Promoting goodwill and relating the actions taken to the overall corporate culture of the employer
- Emphasizing internal communication using new channels
- Continuous analysis of employee needs and adjustment of benefits in line with the results of conducted research
The sixth question was to examine what the cause of the initiatives undertaken was as part of employer branding activities. First, companies react to changes in the labor market and trends that appear in various organizations. Their goal is to maintain their attractiveness and respond to reported needs. Some changes are introduced in response to employee demands. One answer shows that this is a matter of generational changes taking place in the organization. One answer concerned the dynamic growth of the organization and making the employer more attractive to potential candidates.
The next question examined whether management has access to dedicated training on generational differences and how they affect companies, in which respondents work. Most companies offer such training to the management of organizations.
The next question was to check whether changes were made to non-wage benefits to better respond to the needs of different age groups. Here, the votes of the respondents were evenly distributed. Half of the companies try to adapt the offer considering the age differences of their employees. The other half of the organization tries to build a range of benefits regardless of the age of employees and maximize it individually.
Ninth question checked whether the changes introduced in the organization and functioning of the offices could have resulted from meeting the needs reported by millennials. Among the answers, there is the question of responses to market activities, but most respondents note that they result from a generational change and the need to meet the expectations reported by millennials.
Respondents mention as part of their answers the main elements that have been introduced as part of the changes referred to in the question.
- Introduction of remote work opportunities (in two companies)
- Introduction of flexible working time (in two companies)
- Desks for standing work
- Chill room, a room for rest and relaxation
- Modernization of the office and organization of a kindergarten for employees’ children
- The gym
The last question checked whether companies are taking any additional actions with millennials in mind. Most companies focus on the implementation of the projects mentioned above and activities under global in-house programs.
Respondents mention as additional activities
- Actions to improve well-being at work
- Activities under diversity & inclusion programs, promoting diversity, and involving various groups in joint activities, promoting mutual understanding
- Promoting cultural diversity and improving communication
- Integration within teams and companies
- Enabling dynamic career paths and the ability to change development directions
- Promoting work-life balance
- Providing resources for eLearning and personal development
The tests confirmed the correctness of the hypothesis. Millennials are a significant group of employees and have an increasing impact on changes in organizations. Companies recognize the expectations of generation Y and try to address those. They want to be an attractive employer on the market by taking care of their image both for current and potential employees.