Paul Rivera, the CEO of Kalibrr, a job matching tech startup in the Philippines, shares insights on how companies need to rethink their values in the Millennial era
When you visit the offices of Kalibrr, the job matching tech startup I co-founded with my university friend Dexter Ligot-Gordon, you’ll notice something that may be refreshing…or disconcerting. Everywhere you look is a young face, no one seeming to be older than 25 years old. In fact, at 33, I’m one of the five oldest people working at the company.
Hiring these young talents to help me grow Kalibrr was a conscious decision. I wanted the company to be more than just a place of employment for them. I want these young people to become leaders in their own right in the long run — entrepreneurs, experts, CEOs-in-the-making — and that working here in the early stages of their career will give them the experience that will hopefully let them do this on their own one day.
But perhaps a crucial, and somehow unintentional, reason behind my decision to hire these young people is the fact that they are Millennials.
Millennials — the babies of the 80s and 90s who are now finally grown up, the young adults who have finally finished their postgraduate studies and their international internships, the demographic that will now, if not already, comprise the majority of the world’s working force.
By hiring Millennials, not only do we have an in-house knowledge base of the biggest size of the workforce being recruited throughout the region, we also have a team that is precisely equipped to understand the demographic we want to help get jobs for.
And by ‘we’, I don’t mean just Kalibrr. I mean all of us who own businesses, all of us who will be providing the jobs for, and will be fighting over this particular wave of employees. I’m going to share a few lessons I’ve learned as CEO of my own company in recruiting and keeping Millennials happy and engaged in the workplace.
Who the Millennials are is not entirely clear. However, a thread that binds them all together is the fact that they came of age during the technological turn that we experienced in the 2000s. This is the demographic that was literally shaped by a golden age of computing technology and the proliferation of the Internet.
Put another way, Millennials are the demographic nurtured to become accustomed to one of the most revolutionary technologies of all time. Because of this, they were able to experience the sharp contrast before and after the rise of tech, and highly appreciate the impact of technology on people’s lives.
Attracting Millennials today requires you to be technologically innovative and up-to-date — they expect the tools they use to engage with potential employers to be as familiar as the tools they use in their personal lives.
Recruit them through career portals, especially those that are optimised for mobile. Build your brand presence online and on social media so you can engage with your target candidates in the arena they are most comfortable with.
Include technology as part of your daily business operations. By integrating apps or web platforms as easily accessible as Google Docs or Slack, not only did we streamline internal communication and processes in our company, but it also allows the Millennial employees at our workplace to be more engaged with their work.
By letting technology be a part of your daily operations, you speak the language of the Millennials. More importantly, in doing so, you let the Millennials express themselves in their work through their own terms.
Give them space for growth
For some of us who have gone through the global financial crisis of 2008, a stable job is sometimes enough to keep us happy. We’ve come to internalise a constant fear of losing one’s job because of a historic crash in the economy, a need to cut back on spending, or simply the difficulty of finding another job in the event that unemployment is inevitable. This is not so for the Millennials, who have a clear and optimistic vision of opportunities open to them as citizens of a globalised world.
It is crucial for the Millennial to know, then, that the job being offered to him/her is not a dead-end job that only pays the bills (and even then, most likely he/she is thinking that it will only be a temporary fix to pay the inevitable bills). The Millennial is in search of personal and professional growth, not simply work or money.
At Kalibrr, we do this by allowing members from different teams to freely collaborate with each other when an idea strikes. They are free to experiment, take the initiative in a project that they think will be good for the company.
For example, we use Trello to give every employee access to projects in progress in the company. They can then either provide input to further improve existing ideas or contribute new ideas that can reach production.
This is not only beneficial for the employees in question, by the way. In the long run, you will be cultivating an environment that will produce achievers and leaders that will not only strengthen your company even more but also be the hotbed of the next big entrepreneurs of the world.
Be a mentor
Speaking of management: it’s time to stop simply ‘managing’ Millennials. If we are to consider the data from the 2015 Deloite Millennial Survey, leading, rather than simply overseeing, is key to handling a Millennial workforce.
Generally, what the survey implies about the preferred leadership of Millennials is an individual who does not simply delegate tasks or oversee the completion of them. They want someone who they can respect and also give them the mentorship they are looking for.
While we won’t be exchanging line managers with life gurus anytime soon, certainly management must take a more personal turn. The role of managers today with the rise of the Millennial workforce must gear towards leading these workers towards their personal goals and seeing them as associates with a common goal, as opposed to simply subordinates.
Talk to them; get to know them as people of your team, rather than just another cog in the machine. Hear them out for fresh suggestions. Give them the benefits that they deserve as hard-working members of your organisation. Allow an open channel to discuss grievances, compromises, or even anything at all about their professional lives. Then show them the way to a better career path.
While I do not know if I have earned the respect of my employees, at the very least I know that I keep an open channel with anyone and everyone in my company. As long as I have the time, my employees can freely approach me for insights on a project or suggestions for next steps. In fact, I find myself learning from them, too.
Also Read: How tomorrow works
Give Millennials a reason
Companies have to reorient themselves in the way they build their businesses. Profiting as the way to keep the company afloat is a very formidable goal in itself, but ending there won’t give Millennials the right motivation to continue working, or even to consider working in your company.
Millennials today want a job that changes the world, an occupation that makes them part of the solution. This is perhaps why startups — a business culture that relies on the notion of providing risky and wild solutions for nagging problems — have become a go-to stop for ambitious Millennials. Even if the company isn’t necessarily a social enterprise, the startup setup of having a small and tightly-knit population makes each member concretely feel the palpable impact of their every effort.
This is why I believe we are able to attract (and retain) great and talented people at our company. One of the main thrusts behind establishing it is helping people find the right jobs for them as long as they have Internet access. This mission is the foundation of our company, and it is what keeps our team of Millennials, including Dexter and me, consistently driven and engaged in doing what we do.
What writer and TELUS Transformation Office’s Chief Envisioner Dan Pontefract calls the “Purpose Mindset” in Millennials will, interestingly, disrupt the way we do business. As entrepreneurs and businessmen, we must start thinking about the greater purpose of our ventures, no matter how big or small. And more importantly, we will be held accountable on the impact we promised to create.
The Millennials are coming (really)
There’s a reason why information about employing and managing Millennials is easy to find all over the web: this demographic will be the ones making the world go ‘round in the very near future. The kids of the 80s and 90s are coming of working age. Here’s a statistic for you: by 2020, Millennials will have made up 50 per cent of the global workforce.
Moreover, they will also be the next league of business leaders and industry experts who will be part of the biggest companies of tomorrow. They are the Mark Zuckerbergs, the Travis Kalanicks and Maria Ressas. Everyone is expected to gear up for the next most important demographic, and the ones who can’t keep up will lose out on the cream of the crop.
The early bird gets the worm, as the cliché goes, and in today’s world of work, it has never been truer.
The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, please send us an email at elaine[at]e27[dot]co
Image Credit: Kalibrr
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