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Is understanding the class of 2017 the key to organisational success?

Kate Cooper

As A-Level results for 18-year-olds come out this week and recent graduates are setting out on their future paths, are universities and employers ready to understand the needs and inner strengths of the class of 2017? From Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards of the Institute of Leadership & Management.

A report published by the Institute of Leadership and Management reveals a significant generational disconnect between the expectations of millennial workers, born between 1980 and 2000, and those of their managers.

With millennials predicted to account for more than 50 percent of the UK workforce by 2020, attitudinal differences between millennial workers and their older managers pose a significant challenge to organisations looking to retain and develop their workforce.

This Workforce 2020 report highlights differing expectations in areas including retention, management styles, motivation and business ethics. 57 percent of millennial workers are expecting to move job within two years and 40 percent within one year; 56 percent of millennials want a manager to be a coach or mentor, while only 8 percent want a manager who directs them; 80 percent of millennials are motivated to go the extra mile at work; 60 percent of millennial list challenging and interesting work as their top workplace priority.

By 2020 more than half of the UK workforce will be drawn from the millennial generation, a figure set to rise to 75 percent by 2025. While workplaces around the country are changing to reflect this change, our report suggests that a degree of disconnect still exists in several key areas.

This summer we see the last of the millennial generation start on their higher education career path. University offers many opportunities for young people to develop their leadership capability and take advantage of opportunities that will enable them to join the world of work with confidence and knowledge of the contribution they can make.

As the freshers of 2017 become the bulk of the workforce in 2020, the Institute of Leadership and Management study recommends that top down instructive leadership style is a thing of the past, as 56 percent of millennials said they wanted their manager to be coach or mentor. Job hopping can be reduced by outlining clear career pathways and the expectations that need to be met for new starters.

The workforce is far more transient than previous generations, with workers far less fearful about moving jobs.  Millennial workers increasingly want to be recognised for the work they do, not just the hours they put in, so while a manager might disagree with this outlook, they risk losing talent if they aren’t prepared to shift their focus to outputs rather than inputs.”

Much of our research reveals the importance individuals of all ages place on autonomy. Organisations can judge work on outcomes achieved rather than hours spent in the office. Employers willing to embrace these changes will be well placed for the future.

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