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Millennials need coaches, not bosses: Hyderabad’s HR leaders speak up on how they manage millennials at Talent Talks

New Delhi, 29th July 2019: The ongoing 4th industrial revolution is significantly transforming the business ecosystem. Technological integration is allowing businesses to streamline their processes and drive better outcomes for organizational growth. Apart from technology, another major driver in the transformation of the global business ecosystem is the millennial generation.

Millennials are often judged and written off as lazy, fickle and unreliable. However, since millennials will account for almost 3/4th of India’s workforce by 2020, it is important to understand that these notions are nothing but misconceptions. As millennials have grown up with technology, their values, motivators, and outlook are just different than previous generations.

This generation expects much more from organizations than just monetary gain.  Thus, attracting, retaining and managing millennials is a tricky task for HR leaders. Against this backdrop,, India’s second-largest job portal, hosted its annual Talent Talks conference in Hyderabad on July 12, 2019. HR leaders from across the city came together to discuss the burning topic – Decoding the talent strategy for millennials.

Replicating its successful Talent Talks HR conferences held in Delhi and Mumbai earlier this year, facilitated a healthy discussion between the panelists and the audience. Post the discussions pertaining to millennials in the workforce, the panelists presented their viewpoints to the entire audience. Here’s looking at the key takeaways from the conference.

How to attract and retain young talent: Understanding the millennial mindset

Speaking on employee retention, Chandra Sekhar D, Asst. Vice President – HR, Tata Projects Ltd., said, “In today’s scenario, retention is a bigger challenge than attracting and recruiting talent. To retain millennials, we must first understand the millennial characteristics. They want quick change, they are impatient, they take risks and have an unplanned approach to life and work. On the flip side, they are entrepreneurial, authentic, compassionate and progressive. They do not believe in the status quo and are very accepting of all people irrespective of their caste, religion, culture, and gender. Their people agility is extremely impressive.

Now that we understand who millennials are, how do we make them stay? We, as HR leaders, must be flexible enough to change the system according to their needs. If we only have till 2020 before millennials take over, the change must start today. Millennials require instant recognition for their efforts. They need access to innovative technologies such as IoT, machine learning and artificial intelligence. However, along with seamless technology, they also need the human touch. They want constant feedback that can help them develop their skills.

They are put off by structure and require unbridled flexibility in order to thrive. If they are provided a flexible environment to work, they will not mind putting in 15 hours a day. They will finish their assignments no matter how long it takes. Finally, millennials are interested in doing good for the environment, their surroundings, and society. Organizations must use this to their advantage by facilitating CSR projects and volunteering opportunities for their employees.”

Taking it forward from there, Subhashini Panyam, Country Director- Talent India & Vietnam, Hitachi Consulting, said, “When we hire, we need to hire for the future. Millennials are here to stay and will comprise more than half of the workforce in the next few years. So, employers will not have a choice. Millennials, on the other hand, will have hundreds of choices. Therefore, we will have to make changes. The recruitment industry is no longer employer-driven. In fact, it is more employee-driven than ever before.”

She then called upon a member of her discussion group, P S Rama Krishna, Executive Director  HR, Choice Solutions Ltd, to conclude their discussion on her behalf. He said, “One statement that perfectly describes today’s job market is – Water, water everywhere, not a single drop to drink. There are millions of millennials ready to fulfill existing job positions but we, as employers, do not know how to leverage this talent. This is because our approach to attracting millennials is flawed.

Today, it is the parents who need parenting. Managers need to learn how to handle millennials. Dangling carrots will not attract millennials nor will it make them stay. We must be honest and transparent with this generation. There must be a high degree of transparency. Further, we need to earn their respect. If we simply state ‘I am the boss’, a millennial will not respect us. Instead, we need to consider ‘work’ as the boss.”

Presenting his group’s ideas on employee retention, Kingsley Kurien,  Assistant General Manager, and Group Head - Human Resources, AXIS Clinicals Ltd (Aurobindo subsidiary), said, “Millennials are eager to learn and confining them to one role can be a bad idea. Instead, while training them, managers or team leaders must identify their strengths and allow them to experiment with multiple disciplines. This will give them attractive growth opportunities and boost retention rate.

Further, insurance and health benefit plans for millennials should be revised keeping in mind their differentiated needs. They don’t just want support for themselves and their dependants, but also their parents. Funding their education and upskilling endeavors is also a great way to keep them around for a longer time. Since learning is extremely important to this generation, employers must create a robust training calendar in order to keep them engaged. Rapid career growth, work recognition, and job security must also become an important part of an organizations retention strategy.”

Concluding the discussion around employee retention, K Narayan Rao, Head Human Resources, NCC Ltd. said, “Organizations should strive to have a flat structure and no hierarchy. Millennials need coaches and not bosses. We must give them the freedom or the autonomy to operate freely within the cardinal principles of the organization. We must offer them an enticing environment and challenging roles. Through this, we will be able to make them stay for a longer period.”

Commenting on the event, Neha Kaul, Marketing Head, said, “My team is entirely made up of millenials, so I think they are no longer the workforce of the future, they are the now generation. As leaders, we need to learn not to ‘manage’ them but to ‘shift our perspective’ to understand them. That was my biggest takeaway from today’s session. The energy and ideas that some of the millennial participants showed at the Shine Talent Talks event were brilliant and after Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad, we plan to take this discussion to all the other major cities in the country for the HR community.”

How should companies attract millennial talent in the first place?

The discussion then moved on to innovative ways to reach out and recruit the millennials. Speaking on the topic, Prashanth Sagi, Vice President - Talent Acquisition, Motivitylabs, said, “First and foremost, organizations must have an online brand presence. Large companies invest a lot in creating brand visibility. Small and mid-sized companies must also focus on creating a positive brand presence to attract millennials.   

Today, the internet is ubiquitous and you can reach talent across the globe with the right brand visibility across review portals, social media websites, etc. In fact, social media is becoming a recruitment hub and calling will soon become an obsolete task in the HR ecosystem.

Organizations must become future-ready. They must position themselves as disruptive thought leaders. It is only with large-scale technological integration that organizations will be able to attract millennials in an enhanced manner.”

Managing millennials to drive a positive employee experience

Since their ideologies are different, millennial management can be a tricky task. Speaking on the subject, Pradipta Sahoo, CHRO, KARVY Fintech Pvt Ltd, said, “Look at the number of first-generation entrepreneurs who have created unicorn companies in the last 10 years. This is an amazing example of the resilience of millennials. But, with resilience, there is also a lot of impatience.

Millennial expectations at the workplace are quite similar to their expectations as customers. For instance, if they want their queries resolved instantly, they want their grievances at work to be solved instantly too. If they want piping hot food in just 30 minutes, they want bonuses every few months too!”

Finally, Deepak Gupta, Group Head HR, KARVY GROUP introduced a novel concept around millennial management. He said, “In some cases, leaders worry that if they train their juniors, they will be replaced within no time. To overcome this and train millennials in the right manner, we have introduced Shadow Learning. Under this method, a fresher is assigned to a senior and they work together on assignments. This makes for a conducive environment for the growth of the trainee as well as the trainer.”

He added, “Millennials need fast-track growth and learning opportunities. New-age leaders must be adaptable enough to change according to the needs of their teams. When 90% of our workforce becomes millennials, policies will have to change. There will simply be no other option.”

With this, the spirited discussion came to an end. Hyderabad’s Talent Talks conference further strengthened the belief that millennials hold immense power and can transform the way businesses function. All they need is a conducive growth environment, and they can accelerate an organization’s growth in a major way.


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