Restive millennials present headache for baby boomers

Students fromfrom different universities during the launch of Millenials Speak at a Nairobi hotel. Millenials Speak is a forum that brings young people together in leadership to speak out and demand to be heard by their leaders from different spheres. 27/05/2017 [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

The changing face of employment and human resource practices at the work place has become so radical that employers are now devising new methods of coping with a young, restless workforce, commonly called millennials.

Generally, millennials are those born in the 1980s and 1990s, which means the oldest members of the generation - also known as Generation Y - began entering the workforce in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Millennials are well contrasted with another group of workers called Generation X, and another one called the baby boomers.

Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, while Generation X were those born immediately after in the 1970s.

According to Ngera Muthoga, the Director for Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Britam Insurance - a baby boomer himself - things have changed a lot since the time he entered employment.

Having spent 25 years at Britam, he says that things have changed greatly after witnessing the arrival of the millennial employees.

“Our generation, unlike millennials, was very loyal at the workplace,” Mr Muthoga told Sunday Standard.

“But today among millennials, there is none of that loyalty. They hardly tolerate the monotony of work and are a bit undisciplined. They want to multitask; doing so many things at the same time and are very hungry for success,” he says.

“They want to achieve so much so fast, which can be a nightmare for human resource practioners.”

Muthoga also contends that in the past, the baby boomers especially were raised under the mantra that people should work hard if they expect to be rewarded.

Pillar of society

The employee was the pillar of the society and was the ultimate bread winner of his extended family. He was raised to be a hard worker who could not entertain thoughts of laziness or losing his job because of indiscipline.

“If you were employed, you were automatically the provider for your parents, your siblings, your own children, even your in-laws. So keeping the job was very important lest you plunge everybody into poverty when you got fired,” he says.

According to James Wachira, a human resource practitioner in Nairobi and a member of the Institute of Human Resource Management, while millennials have been termed as being disloyal to the companies they work for and having a tendency to quit jobs in a hurry, employers have to find a way of coping with them since currently form the biggest workforce.

“It’s a changing trend; a group of workers that employers have to learn to manage. For example, they are digital-savvy which is an advantage for the employer,” says Mr Wachira.

“While older generations value things like fixed work schedules and dress codes, millennials are more focused on end results. This means it’s important to relax the rules a bit.”

On the flip-side, millennials have also been found to fall more into temptations of fraud at the workplace, according to a new report by financial services firm Ernest and Young titled, ‘Human instinct or machine logic – which do you trust most in the fight against fraud and corruption?’

“Millennials who constitute 32 per cent of overall respondents demonstrate more relaxed attitudes toward unethical behaviour. They do not mind engaging in unethical practices such as fraud to turn a profit,” says the report.   

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