Seeing a turnout of 180 professionals, the headline title of Wantedly’s workshop at innovfest unbound 2018 featured leading HR executives from established companies on the panel.
With Singtel’s Sharon Tan, Celine Nguyen from Circles.Life and Unilever’s Tricia Duran, we were all engaged in the question begging to be answered that day: How are Millennials any different from everyone else?
What is a Millennial?
“We all did the same Google search.” Sharon enthusiastically quipped to laughter from the crowd.
Indeed, a quick Google search will describe a millennial as someone that was born between the years 1981 and 1996 (various age ranges are available). However, merely labelling someone by their age seems slightly myopic: what about their attitudes, their quirks, habits and goals? In short, what makes a millennial tick?
The 3 panellists brought up some interesting points:
• Millennials grow up as digital natives — they live and breathe technology
• They are very adaptable and flexible, a skills chameleon if you will
• Autonomy and ownership of work call out to them
• They have greater ability to pick and choose their jobs as compared to the past
• A job is no longer just a place to earn money, but where they build their skills and knowledge
When asked to elaborate, Tricia describes how change is the only constant across the different age groups. We’re all fighting the same beast, but armed with different weapons. Millennials still have to face the same, if not ever-increasing expectations of the workplace, just with a different attitude and mindset.
“The reality is that the essence and values of human beings are the same, it’s just the rate of change and the pace of knowledge and skills. The only difference is the rate of change which they need to cope with, which is much higher, and I think that this is necessary to be relevant in this new world.”
Hiring Millennials - How?
The concept of instant recognition or gratification was raised numerous times during the discussion. Extending this concept to beyond just the hiring process, instant recognition refers to how millennials want an immediate feedback on their potential performance or their actual performance.
Opining that millennials are slightly impatient in this aspect, Tricia emphasises that potential, performance, and ability all require time to prove. Instant recognition then becomes something unrealistic and inaccurate for both sides.
“They must learn how to manage that expectation,” she says, “That’s how we get around that.”
Offering a slightly different twist, Singtel’s Group Recruitment Advisor suggests that hitting the nail directly on the head would be effective as well.
“The ways we engage with different age groups are slightly different, so for millennials it’s probably for centred around social media.” Sharon says.
“We don’t expect to get a candidate for our team immediately.”
Millennials these days are starkly different from Sharon’s generation when it comes to searching for jobs. Interested in not just the job, they want to know more about what the company stands for, corporate citizenship, what goes on outside of work. Mindsets have changed drastically from when a job was just “to get money coming in.”
“Questions they ask during interviews now are more like “How do you give back to the community, what are you doing in terms of enhancing if I want to run my own business” and so on,” Sharon shares. “They are all entrepreneurial, and that’s great!”
Concurring with Sharon, Circles.Life’s Celine believes that millennials are very driven and determined in their pursuit of success. As a millennial herself, Celine emphasises on the importance of communicating clear expectations and directions for effective management.
“If passionate about something, they are willing to put in the hours for it.”
A Sandbox of Ideas
When it comes to attracting millennials through their hiring practices, a common theme of experimenting is evident among all 3 companies: the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and gamification. “Such technology in our interview processes has doubled the interest in applying for Unilever!” says Tricia. With millennials being such tech-savvy demographic, it’s little wonder they are drawn to tech like moths to a flame.
How does technology help such hiring practices then?
AI allows analysis of different things: facial expressions, words used, level of nervousness, perspiration etc
This allows the interviewer to see if the interviewee might be a good hire with regard to their goals
Gamification of different situations have machine learning and AI incorporated into them
This tells companies what will be good for them, and what will not
Such games are interesting to millennials as they aim to score well
AI gets smarter the more it is used, providing increasingly accurate results
Of course, “a cup of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream always helps,” laughs Tricia.
However, employer branding plays a huge part in attracting millennials as well. From Singtel’s standpoint, Sharon shares how they are dialing up their employer brand that “they are not just a telco anymore.” With ventures into innovation, data analytics, and technology, they are well positioned to attract talents from different industries that fit their mould.
“We also go for people in banks, FMCG, business and sales,” she says. “The type of skills we go for are really data analytics, cyber security and the like, all of which are not a telco.”
What should We Look for in a Millennial?
In answering this question, Celine brings up the concept of grit from Angela Duckworth. Referring to perseverance and not giving up on a specific goal you want to achieve, she shares her experience working in a start-up — where your job 6 months from now could be very different from now. Grit then provides an insight into how they would react in a real-life environment based on their past experiences.
“Sometimes it could really be frustrating working in a start-up,” Celine says. “You work really hard for something for a week and then suddenly the direction changes, and you just have to go with it.”
It’s a big leap of faith when hiring people. You never truly know how their performance might be based on the interview itself. But, looking out for general values in them that are in line with your company’s values decreases that risk. In this aspect, Sharon shares Singtel’s approach in best identifying the suitable talent.
“We put them through customer-care situations that show they have care, concern and passion for what they’re doing rather than just directing the customer to a link.”
Extending Sharon’s point to the workplace, Tricia says Unilever has structures to help onboard new employees regardless of their age group. With their discovery centres, they have development conversations with employees to see whether what they’re looking for is what the company is looking for and whether that fits.
At the end of it all, it boils down to being human: there’s a lot of context behind why someone would give a certain answer — understanding that is important.
What's your Biggest Takeaway?
The common theme that surfaced in their answers? Empathy.
“It is easy to treat them as a group and generalise, but they are all separate individuals and every single one of them will have their aspirations, things they are passionate about and have an idea of how they want to build your career.” says Celine.
Treating each interviewee with the respect they deserve, creating a genuine and positive connection for them during the interview process (or “chat”, as Sharon calls it) — it becomes more than just an interview, but an experience they can take and learn from.
With the advent of technology in today’s society, it becomes even more relevant to acknowledge the human side of things. Having a balance of both, that is what allows an organisation to truly progress.
So, are millennials truly different from anyone else?
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