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Through The Keyhole #43 – Millennials – The rumours and the reality

2 December 2016 | Debbie Martin | About a 4 minute read
Tags: Analysis, Development, Feedback, Happiness, Millennials, Progression, workplace happiness


There has been a lot written recently on the subject of Millennials; as if the latest generation to join the workforce are a new species that needs to be studied in order to be understood. Rumour has it that the Millennial generation is entitled, lazy and narcissistic. At work they expect candour, constant feedback, quick progression and instant opportunities to influence company decisions. While more traditional companies may balk at this kind of expectation at AND Digital 83% of our people are Millennials so the reputation and the reality of Millennial expectations are our daily bread and butter.

If we chip away at the pejorative language inherent in the above rumours, what’s the reality of Millennial expectations? Does this differ from the expectations that have come before?

So, what do we at AND Digital do to embrace the Millennial opportunity?

Entitled?
Millennials don’t want to be held back by hierarchy, they want to be given a chance to learn and gain experience from the start. At AND Digital we on-board whole teams together with a mix of Development and Analysis experience and recent grads up to experienced professionals. We believe everyone benefits from this format and all our ANDis are able to learn from and share with others from day one. Once Bootcamp is over we also place mixed teams on to client site, so regardless of how much experience you have behind you, all ANDis have the same opportunity to delight our clients.

Lazy?
Millennials want the opportunity to work flexibly; this may mean a move away from the 9-5 static location. At AND Digital we understand that our people are juggling caring responsibilities, sporting commitments and even start-up cottage industries. We are focused on output rather than input, so working from different locations or early/late in the day is all possible.

Narcissistic?
They understand the value in their own contributions to the greater goal. The Scrum approach that we take to product delivery allows for teams to self-organise for maximum success. Ultimately the team is responsible for delivery, but individuals can play to their own strengths, selecting different tasks each sprint and building their own skills along the way.

Candour?
They believe that honesty enables success. We have a culture of sharing – whether it’s project successes, some challenging code or our financial performance. Our open engagement scores and monthly open forums mean that questions are answered and our people are kept informed of company developments.

Constant feedback?
Millennials expect timely feedback to enable them to understand how they can achieve their potential. At AND Digital we understand the importance of knowing how you’re doing and how you can improve. We set expectations around giving and receiving feedback from the outset at Bootcamp. We even have bonus missions focused on peer-to-peer feedback to keep people in the habit.

Quick progression?
They want to be recognised for a job well-done. We offer quarterly progression opportunities at AND Digital to keep our people moving.

Opportunities to influence company decisions?
Millennials want their voice to be heard and companies to acknowledge that fresh ideas often come from fresh eyes. Our structure of Clubs and Squads mean that each business unit remains a tight knit community with close contact and regular participation. Our people have been involved in everything from building our competency model to selecting our new offices.

Let’s pause for a moment and think about the environment that this generation is graduating into. Millennials are joining the workforce in more debt than any generation previously. They are the only generation expected not to achieve greater quality of life than their parents. We live in a hyper-connected world where people receive feedback on everything from their selfies to their baking abilities. Technology is supporting customer feedback like never before which enables the business to respond rapidly to customer demands. The huge demand for tech skills isn’t something you have to learn over years from your superiors but is something 10-year-old children are teaching themselves in their bedrooms!

Given the world we are living in, doesn’t it make sense to want candour and as many opportunities as you can get your hands on? We don’t have careers for life any more, but we do have the opportunity for portfolio careers with dramatic changes along the way. Seeking to get the most of every experience makes sense if each leads onto the next opportunity.

At AND Digital, we would encourage other organisations to embrace the Millennial approach. Opportunities for all, open and honest culture, giving grads real world experience early on and listening to ideas from across the organisation. Far from being disruptive, companies may find unlocked potential by embracing Millennial logic.

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