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A Millennial Taught Me Something About Business



I just finished listening to the latest Work Smart podcast sponsored by SpeakUp (www.getspeakup.com) on SoundCloud and was captivated by podcast guest, Vanessa Fernandez, and her observations on changes within the traditional workplace. 


One thing you will note about Vanessa is that she is not only a popular radio personality but has multiple endeavors that she pursues in parallel.  This got me wondering.  How prevalent is change to the traditional notion of work and who are the ones testing the limits of "how things used to be done"?


It turns out, change is more like a tidal wave and traditional employers need to take notice else they will find themselves at the "short end of the stick" when it comes to competing for talent of the Millennial generation.


Over at mobile ad platform, InMobi, they've taken a refreshing look at HR practices in an effort to attract talent and to bring out the best in their growing team.  According their Vice President of People Operations (great title!),

We are working towards building a dream company. We are doing that by thinking out of the box when it comes to HR practices, wiring together policies that enable employees and investing in our people since therein lies our foundation for a successful future

How are they "wiring together policies" at InMobi?  They are paying people to have hobbies!  The progressives at InMobi realize the combination between productivity within the workplace and the octane injection they get when their employees are encouraged to express their creativity and pursue their dreams.  Of course, like any disruptive start-up, the approach to attracting and retaining talent is sure to evolve and get even better.


So what are the suits saying?  It turns out, the likes over at PwC are seeing much the same and are ringing the alarm bells with good reason.  

     Employers need to work much harder on understanding this generation and appealing to their needs to attract and retain. However they also need to accept that a rate of millennial churn may be inevitable and build this into their manpower planning 

Even more compelling is PwC's assertion that Millennials are dynamic, globally aware and place their interests before those of the company (I still can't believe Millennials are categorized as lazy by some pundits).  In reality, Millennials are resourceful and creative beyond their years.  For what they might lack in experience, they make up for up for in aspirations, resolve and purpose all while leveraging the heck out of technology.


The reality is that "paying for employees' hobbies" is a good first step but progressive firms and HR leaders need to go even further.  PwC shares "digital technologies offer Millennials an unprecedented opportunity for creativity and entrepreneurism".  This translates into 35% of employed Millennials pursuing their entrepreneurial passions to help supplement their income and/or to pursue a passion ... beyond just a hobby (Iconoculture 2011).  And even Millennials in college are balancing the books with real life entrepreneurial pursuits that stretch well beyond theory.  Therein lies one of the biggest challenges facing organizations today.  

How can a business continue to flourish and benefit from top talent when the talent has the skills and capabilities to venture out on their own?

The answer lies in the fortitude and resolve of today's business leaders and HR professionals to fundamentally adapt to this new reality and set the pace.  Companies like Google, Intel and 3M already encourage their talent to spend 10-20% of their time on endeavors that fall outside of their day-to-day responsibilities.  Others, such as Apple, support and encourage the practice of intrapreneurship; encouraging creativity, innovation and disruption within the organization.  


These large organizations and agile progressive start-ups may not necessarily retain all of their talent through this transformation but they sure will set the standard for what it takes.  And at the same time, they will have ignited entrepreneurial passions and success stories that will continue to mean economic spill-over benefits ... well beyond their years.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with Millennials venturing beyond the status quo.   I can already think of a couple who are lighting it up!

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© 2020 by Gregory Wade.