American millennials refer to individuals born between 1980 and 2000. They grew up online and never knew a time without mass media and the internet. They are very ambitious, yet focused on lifestyle balance. They are extremely innovative and adaptable, but also often deemed as being lazy and entitled.
South African Millennials or “Afrillennials” were born from 1990 onwards and were born in a time ripe with major political, economic and cultural shifts. They are the “born free” generation as they grew up in a post-apartheid era. They are more integrated, more ethnically diverse on their friend groups and more open to change and radical ideas. They have very different needs from their employers and choose employers very differently compared to Generation X or Baby boomers.
Afrillennials currently make up 10% of all employed workers. By 2025, this group together with the new batch of young workers will add up to 40% of the workforce. By 2030, the Afrillennial group and their successors will make up about 75% of all staff.
What do Afrillennials bring to the organisation?
Their openness to other cultures make them well positioned to encourage diversity, innovation and cultural harmony at work. They want to be part of the solution and make a positive difference.
Afrillennials want it all - rapid career growth, the best tech, a good income and work-life balance - and they want it now. With parents that grew up in an expanding economy and gave their kids a lot, Afrillennials are very ambitious. If channeled correctly Afrillennials can eject big spurges of energy into your business. It’s about channeling their ambition in the right direction.
How do you set them up for success?
Afrillennials have very different needs and expectations of the workplace than Generation X’ers or Baby Boomers. Your organisation will need to be very innovative in how you attract and integrate them.
Afrillennials are risk averse and afraid to fail. They will need lots of feedback, coaching and mentorship.
They feel weighed down by Ubuntu tax (contributing financially to their families) and they dream about financial independence. Being sensitive to their circumstances, will lead to higher levels of engagement.
You also need to pay special attention to how you integrate Afrillennials into your organisation. They need to feel comfortable and need to feel that their innovative ideas are welcomed.
Young workers will migrate to environments where they feel most comfortable. If they come up against archaic ways of staff management, they won’t stay. The two worlds need to come together. You need to figure out how you are able to reshape the business at different levels to hold on to them.
Instead of focusing career messaging and job adverts on purely rational messaging, companies should engage Afrillennials via motivational triggers at an emotional level - the values of the business, what it’s contributing to society, and what exciting projects they’ll get to action, is what will be attractive to them. The chance to be exposed to new things, to develop and grow their networks is very important to Afrillenials. Also consider using more engaging kinds of media, like videos and testimonials.
The work environment and how it operates is also important - how the office is laid out, what equipment is accessible, what flexibility in working hours is available, and the what opportunities to work remotely exist. The space should feel more like home with sufficient recreational areas, but it should have all the functionality of an office.