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Seven ways to maximise millennials

The future crop of leaders are from the 'can do, will do' generation

As baby boomers retire and their younger colleagues assume higher-level roles, today's millennials will become tomorrow's bosses.

Born in the early 80s to mid-90s, and now in their 20s to mid-30s, this cohort will make up 35 per cent of the global workforce by 2020. So now is the time to groom them.

Companies should, however, banish the negative stereotypes of millennials - that they are disloyal, self-absorbed and lack drive - before putting the right leadership programmes in place.

The truth is far from that as ManpowerGroup found in its 2016 global study of 19,000 millennials - titled Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision.

Millennials are working as hard if not harder than other generations. Most expect to slog till past age 65.

What do millennials want?

They want to be rewarded for their effort, feel secure in their jobs, yet have the freedom to stop and refuel once in awhile.

The majority - 93 per cent - believe in skills development, with some even willing to pay out of their own pockets for training, if necessary.

Millennials are the "can do, will do" generation. As potential leaders, they are as hardworking as they are humanistic - aware of the critical importance of work-life balance.

Here are seven ways to attract, nurture and retain the talented to fill the right jobs at the right time.

OFFER CAREER SECURITY

Millennials have redefined job security as career security - it's the journey, not the job.

Make it clear that staying with the company can lead to career enhancement. Give examples of people who have progressed through training and on-the-job learning. Appeal to the millennial aspiration to be more employable over the long term.

EXPLORE TWO-WAY MENTORING

Millennials value working with great people and want guidance from leaders. But they are also capable of coaching others as subject matter experts.

This dual-way mentoring enables the transfer of responsibility and knowledge in a win-win manner.

FOCUS ON JOB AND LEARNING VARIETY

Satisfy their appetite for new opportunities. Enable them to work on different projects with different teams.

Highlight the value of progression - not just promotion - to build a portfolio of skills and experiences across the organisation.

Millennials want not just training but learning opportunities. These include leading visible projects, speaking in both small and large groups and collaborating across silos or geographical boundaries on stretch assignments.

Keep in mind that they want things fast: a six- to 12-week leadership development programme works well.

APPRECIATE YOUR MILLENNIALS

Maintain a high-touch approach and offer frequent, face-to-face feedback. Find channels that encourage recognition and sharing from managers and peers.

Also, rather than annual reviews, check in regularly with millennials about their career development. Put in place plans for achievable near-term goals. Spell out how meeting today's goals will boost longer-term employability.

BE READY FOR 
CAREER WAVES

Anticipate personal reasons for breaks which go beyond births, honeymoons and periods of care for relatives.

Be flexible and make breaks an acceptable part of your company culture. Be clear what flexibility you offer and help people re-enter the workforce.

BE OPEN TO ALTERNATIVE WORK MODELS

Millennials prefer full-time jobs, but many are also open to part-time, freelance or portfolio work.

Adopt the attractive aspects of these options - for instance, greater flexibility in where, when and how people work and more projects that allow such fluidity.

LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY

Millennials, also known as "Gen Net" or "I-Generation" (Internet Generation), are completely at home with technology. They expect its use in any formalised learning.

Use social media chat forums that allow real-time peer discussions on challenges. Tap e-learning, videos and game-style teaching apps to ensure anywhere-anytime learning.

The bottom line: while most millennials intend to stay with their current employer for the next few years, about two-thirds said that two years was the "right" window to be in a single role before being promoted or moving to another.

Retention of high potentials depends on the consistent and continual leadership grooming that your company provides.

This article was contributed by Right Management (www.rightmanagement.sg), the global career experts within United States-listed HR consulting firm, ManpowerGroup.

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