SAP: Engaging millennials key to business success

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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 6): A crucial factor affecting how businesses are run now is the fact that millennials are entering the workforce, according to a recent survey.

SAP Malaysia Sdn Bhd Managing Director Bernard Chiang said the survey revealed that business was changing, and there was a need to rethink the peoples strategy and prepare for the workforce of the future

"Companies need to treat millennials just like any other employee, but must recognise that they are different from previous work generations,” he said in a statement recently, in conjunction with a briefing on the Workforce 2020: The Future of Work in Malaysia survey. The survey was conducted by Oxford Economics Research and supported by SAP.

The term "millennials" was defined as "workers who started work since the new millennium, and encompass the age group of between 14-35 years old".

Chiang said the survey proved that priorities were shifting, and the top trends impacting companies' workforce strategy nowadays were (i) millennials entering the workforce; (ii) the globalization of the labour supply; and (iii) the increasing number and use of intermittent and seasonal employees, as opposed to full-time workers.

He said about 89% of executives say they would be increasing the use of contingent, intermittent, or consultant employees.

"Out of all the executives polled, only 23% feel that they've made progress in building a workforce that can meet future business goals.

"Companies do not understand what their employees really want from them — so clearly, there could be a generation gap, which is causing 'loss in translation' of expectations,” he said.

He explained that while millennials are different, they were not as different as companies think.

He said based on the survey, it had been found that millennials — who were generally born between the 1980s to early 2000s — did not differ very much percentage-wise, when asked what matters to them.

"For example, about 29% of millennials feel that making a positive difference in the world is important, as opposed to 31% of non-millennials.

“However, when talking about compensation, work-life balance, meaningful work and achievement of income goals, millennials placed more emphasis on them, compared with non-millennials — especially with regards to compensation (75% and 63% respectively),” he said.

Chinag added that crucially, 16% of employees felt that access to social media is important, compared to only 9% of executives.

“We have found that there is this great debate happening in companies, on whether to allow use of social media at work — and it cannot be denied that it has already affected how the business world works.

"Millennials are already very comfortable with their smartphones. Not surprisingly, we can find that collaborations happen in social media — and work collaborations happen too.

“These are tools that allow such collaborations to happen — so if the enterprise doesn't equip them with all the tools and apps that can help the business, they may not be harnessing the millennials' potential and skills fully," he said, adding that along with increasing use of technology, better training and education opportunities would benefit employees — which would in turn, benefit the businesses.