Building happy teams

Millennials at the workplace

Millennials at Work: Let’s bust the top four myths

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The ‘me me me generation’, ‘narcissists’, ‘lazy’, ‘the joking generation’…there are probably more problematic names you have heard associated with millennials. Millennials, born between the 1980s and early 2000s, form a huge chunk of the global workforce and are steadily becoming key business decision-makers in the workplace. While the impact this generation has had on the workplace and the economy cannot be overlooked, there still seems to be a pervasive negative buzz around millennials at work.

How can this generation be better understood and equipped for success in the workplace? Let’s debunk some millennial myths as we explore some of the ways we can create a work environment for all generational employees to thrive:

Myth #1 – Millenials are obsessed with technology 

The gripe that millennials cannot go a minute without checking their phones may not be far from the truth.  However, given that this cohort was brought up right in the ascend of technology… it follows that phones, computers and tablets are a key part of their lives. This could, in fact, be a win for companies that millennials have no hard barriers between work and home life. This means they would work from anywhere at any time to beat deadlines.

Being the most connected generation in history, with the exception of Gen Z of course, millennials seek to make the best use of the technology available to them. At the workplace, this group wants to use the latest technology for efficiency and productivity. Getting stuck in old technologies while laying claim that millennials are slaves of new technologies could keep your company from achieving the best results. As we all know, slow internet and clunky systems frustrate both the old and young.  Consider taking what is available in your company a notch higher, to enable the new generations to perform at their best.

To further demystify this generation’s attachment to technology, a study shows that millennials actually prefer face-to-face communication to emails and texting. This goes to show that while they may make the best use of the new technologies for your company’s productivity, they are still interested in in-person conversations, for instance, when receiving or giving feedback.

Myth #2 – Millennials feel entitled and all they care about is money

A Shortlist survey that sought to understand what candidates value most in potential employers recently revealed that millennials are more interested in competitive salaries and promotions than any other age groups. However, while this stands true, it is fair to note that good pay is important to all employees. We are all hungry for opportunities to step up in our careers just as millennials are; the only difference is that millennials daringly ask for what they desire, and are more likely to move on to another job should they not receive the fulfilment they seek. This does not mean that they are selfish or entitled; rather they are brave enough to demand what they want while other generations may shy off or play cool.

This insightful report by CNBC further emphasises that millennials value opportunities to grow more than a competitive salary. An organisation that offers opportunities for professional development and pays fairly hones a high performing workforce. The key takeaway here? Millennial satisfaction does not come down to bean bags and 24-hour coffee.

Myth #3 – Millennials’ career goals and expectations differ from those of older generations

Millennials have been said to have career goals and expectations that are different from those of older generations. Top of this list is the hope of making a positive impact on society. While there is truth to this, doesn’t the need to make an impact cut across individuals from all generations? Rather than view this as a mean value, organisations should support these projects as they are important in affirming employees’ need to be part of a bigger picture. In addition to this, it further bolsters a company’s image and employer brand, which helps to build client relationships and stand out from competitors.

It is also true that millennials are different when it comes to switching roles, jobs or expecting internal promotions. Unlike the older employees, such as baby boomers, who could stay in the same job for long and some from start to retirement, it now seems rare to see employees hit the 3-year mark. This does not necessarily make millennials less loyal compared to the older generations; rather, it means that they seek to be challenged, have a clear career path and to feel valued at work. This calls for managers to do what they can to support the dynamic younger generation workforce.

Myth #4 – Expect a medal for participation

You are probably already familiar with the statement that millennials expect a prize for everything they do…even being last. However,  this not true. According to an IBM study, a fair and ethical boss means more to millennials than praise for accomplishments. The research further shows that Gen X are more likely to want a boss who compliments their work, while baby boomers would prefer a boss who solicits views from them than millennials would.  It’s not that millennials always expect constant acclaim and think everyone should get a trophy for participation. What they want is a manager who is transparent and open to giving them feedback for self-improvement which you would admit, cuts across all generations.

It is important to note that, millennials will represent 50 percent of the entire global workforce by 2020. This is, therefore, the ideal time to stop shaming them and instead nurture their creativity, passion and ambition to achieve success and make a world-changing impact. Rather than consider millennials a generation of weakness, let’s recognise them as diverse risk-takers who are shaping the future of work.

Further given the current competitive hiring climate, the talent available to you directly impacts your company’s ability to deliver its goals. It is therefore important to develop the best strategies to attract top talent among millennials. These range from culture, management style,  recruitment and retention approaches that benefit all employees.

Millennials are encouraging us to challenge and improve workplace practices that are ultimately beneficial to all employees. If anything, the workplace evolution doesn’t end here, Gen Zs are already joining us!

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Happier Workplaces: Four Essential Ingredients for Building Them

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Last week we held a panel discussion on ‘Building Happier, More Human Workplaces In The 21st Century.’ Moderated by our Managing Director of Shortlist East Africa, Ariane Fisher, this fascinating conversation highlighted key ways you can increase employee satisfaction and reduce attrition rates. Many thanks to our panelists Ria Shroff Desai, AVP People Operations at Sula VineyardsDr. Marcus Ranney, General Manager, India at Thrive Global and Gaurav Singh, CEO of 3.2.1 Education Foundation for sharing their insights with our audience. Thanks to the Ministry of New for hosting us!

The panelists shared many of their experiences and approaches to creating happier workplaces — we’ve distilled them here for you:

1. Managers that provide ‘psychological safety’

Ria Shroff Desai, AVP People Operations at Sula Vineyards

When stressing the importance of managers providing relentless support to their employees, Ria Shroff Desai explained, “I believe in the power of good managers. It is a very well documented fact that employees do not quit jobs, they leave managers.”

“One of the most important things managers can provide to employees is psychological safety. This was something that Great Place To Work has done significant research on — the importance of psychological safety in several Asian countries. They found that Indians tend to value ‘psychological safety’ ten times more than people working in other countries. When working in a team, aspects such as teamwork, innovation and collaboration were not regarded to be as important as support from their managers.”

“Employees take risks. They need managers to have their back and provide feedback in a non-threatening manner.”

2. Instilling a sense of purpose in employees

Dr. Marcus Ranney, General Manager, India at Thrive Global

Thrive Global is a U.S.-based behaviour change technology and media company founded by Arianna Huffington that is dedicated to ending the stress and burnout epidemic worldwide. Dr. Marcus Ranney, the General Manager of Thrive Global in India, shared how crucial instilling a sense of purpose in employees is for creating happier workplaces that prevent burnout. He said, “As we look at a workforce that is becoming increasingly stressed, increasingly burnt out at work, if we as managers are able to drive a connection between the job a person is doing, who they are doing it for and what that person gets out of that piece of work. We will hopefully be able to build much happier and more productive workplaces.”

Talking about the methodology to instill this culture in your company Marcus said, “you can take micro steps towards getting happiness and purpose at a workplace”.

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Dr. Marcus Ranney sharing his thoughts during the Q & A session with the audience

While addressing the challenges you may face in your company when trying to achieve employee satisfaction — Dr. Ranney not only highlighted the role of stress in straining the workforce but also shared his opinion on instilling a sense of purpose in employees that can give way to happier workplaces.

“80% of India’s workforce says that they are stressed at work. 60% of whom wanted to leave the workforce because of the stress. 92% of millennials said they do not have the resilience to cope with the stress around them. This immense pressure is causing strain on the workforce.

I feel the solution lies in creating a sense of purpose for employees. Several companies, including Hindustan Unilever and Thrive Global are currently working on creating that sense of purpose and belonging to motivate millennials and other members of the workforce.”

3. Thinking like an employee, not a CEO

Gaurav Singh, CEO of 3.2.1 Education Foundation

Gaurav Singh is the founder of a pathbreaking education organisation called 3.2.1 Education Foundation. Drawing from his personal experience, Gaurav said, “I always wanted to build a workplace that I would want to work at”. In terms of culture, career progression and overall learning, Gaurav believes it is more about the journey than the destination. He said, “We want our employees to have a journey that they look back at fondly” and that is the culture he is trying to build.

4. Allowing employees to prioritize their families

Citing a practice that has been applied at Sula Vineyards to satisfy their diverse workforce, Ria Shroff Desai spoke about coordinated leaves: “We made a decision about three years ago that Sula is going to take school vacations. Our entire company is going to go on leave twice a year, including the CEO. The reason we did that is because we are a company of families. And schools have their summer holidays in May, so we are not going to penalise you for taking time off to go on a break with your children. We review this policy every year and it has been a success”.

After the panel, the audience had the opportunity to make peer connections as well as share real-life experiences as managers and employees. It was a wonderful opportunity to see several high-caliber professionals talk about the impact of implementing policies to boost friendly behavior at offices that can lead to happier workplaces. We want to give out a special thanks to our panelists for their time and insights.

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More about our panelists

Ria Shroff Desai

Ria is AVP of People Operations at Sula Vineyards, whom you all know as the maker and seller of some of India’s best and most premium wines. Her expertise includes working with CXO teams to align strategic goals with actionable objectives and the people required to attain them while focusing on building strong, sustainable and smart teams. Outside of work, Ria is passionate about the social and nonprofit sectors and loves to take on pro bono consulting assignments. She is also a runner — and has completed 3 half marathons!

Dr. Marcus Ranney

Dr. Marcus Ranney currently the General Manager of Thrive Global, India, has previously served as a medical officer in the Royal Air Forces and at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Marcus, a champion of wellbeing, was appointed as a ‘Global Shaper’ by the World Economic Forum in 2013. Working as a Futurist, his current research is focused on what the future of health and society will look like in 2030. Marcus is a keen athlete and long-distance runner, holds a Guinness World Record for backward running and thoroughly enjoys being a father to his two young children.

Gaurav Singh

Gaurav Singh, the founder and CEO of 3.2.1 Education Foundation, is an engineer by education who worked at Accenture before becoming taking up the challenge of becoming a Teach For India Fellow in its founding batch. He started 3.2.1 Education Foundation in 2012 and was awarded the Ashoka Fellowship and Echoing Green Fellowship in 2013 for his work. 3.2.1 Foundation has completed its engagement with over 80 schools impacting more than 1,500 educators and 70,000 children.


International Women’s Day 2019: Why companies should prioritize women business leaders

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To recognize International Women’s Day, we’re sharing our favorite facts that demonstrate how gender diversity in companies that supports women business leaders results in improved business gains, more innovation, stronger CSR performance and more!

At Shortlist, we’re passionate about learning how diversity and inclusion help supercharge unlocking professional potential. This International Women’s Day, we wanted to share some of our favorite facts about how gender diversity in companies leads to better outcomes — not just for businesses, but for society. Be sure to share your favorite facts today with the hashtag #IWD2019and #BalanceforBetter.

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#1: Companies with women on boards and top management trump all-male leadership

According to a 2015 study by the University of California Davis, companies that have more than one woman in the top management performed “considerably better than ones with mostly male boards and executives.” Moreover, a collaborative report by McKinsey and the Women’s Forum For The Economy And Society claimed, “companies where women are most strongly represented at board or top-management level are also the companies that perform best.”

#2: Gender diversity is good for the bottom line, likely due to increased innovation

A McKinsey report suggests that organizations in the highest quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to experience financial gains above their respective nation’s industry medians. Another study suggests that a rise in revenue can be attributed to the increase in the innovation of product and services, which is 38% more likely in companies with diverse management. In other words, diverse management teams, including those with women business leaders, are usually more innovative and earn a premium on their innovation.

#3: Women contribute to decreased fraud, corruption and mistakes

Greater inclusion of women in corporates has reportedly led to a reduction in controversial business practices — namely fraud, corruption, bribery and shareholder battles. Moreover, a gender diverse board that includes women business leaders has also been associated with fewer financial reporting mistakes, better collection and transparent disclosure of stock price information.

#4: Stronger CSR performance

Boardroom diversity has been strongly linked to improved performance in the realm of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). According to a recent study, board members from diverse experience and backgrounds tend to recognize the interest and needs of different groups in society. More specifically, gender-diverse corporate boards are likely to achieve high ratings in CSR initiatives. Additionally, a collaborative study of Fortune 500 boardrooms by the Catalyst and Harvard Business School claims that organizations with gender-inclusive teams, on average, contributed more towards charitable funds than companies without gender-inclusive teams.

#5: The benefits extend beyond companies

According to a recent study by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the ever-increasing entry of women into the labor market has aided global growth and competitiveness. Moreover, the same study found that businesses are increasingly pinning gender equality as an important factor for long-term economic growth and development.

Despite these facts, we have a long way to go in fostering women business leaders

While a gender-diverse workforce comes with a myriad of benefits, unfortunately, we have a long way to go in fostering women business leaders. In 2017, only 5% of Fortune 500 companies had women CEOs, and sadly, a recent article by Grant Thornton showed that women actually hold fewer senior roles across the world in 2018 compared to 2017. Moreover, the World Economic Forum estimated the economic gender gap would take 217 years to come to a close.

And here’s how employers can play their part in closing this harmful gap that inhibits the growth and success of women business leaders. Research by the Boston Consulting Group showed: “Women do not consider recruitment to be the main challenge — only 26% cited this as an obstacle. It’s as seniority rises that the number of women declines steadily, and more women cited retention (36%) and advancement (45%) as the key issues. In other words, the challenge is not ensuring that women can get in the front door; it’s ensuring that they can climb the organizational ladder.”

This International Women’s Day, let’s examine how companies can do more to support women not just get in the door but rise to the top as women business leaders.


Read More: Moving towards a gender-neutral hiring process

Onboarding Ideas: 3 Fun Tips for Startups and SMEs

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Great onboarding isn’t just for corporates with big budgets! Build an effective and affordable orientation program with these free and fun onboarding ideas.

Onboarding is a crucial part of recruitment, but often feels like an afterthought once you’re done with the screening, selection, and the offer process. As a super busy startup or SME, it might seem unattainable to dedicate even more team time and resources for onboarding.

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Credit: Criene Images/Twenty20

However, you may want to reconsider. In addition to making new joiners feel excited and welcomed, quality onboarding processes have been proven to increase employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction, and reduce turnover and absenteeism in the long run.

How to begin? In partnership with the Shell Foundation, we created a starter guide to help you build an effective and affordable onboarding program. Here are three of our favorite fun and free onboarding ideas for you to incorporate today!

Tip #1: Create an informative and fun welcome packet to prep new joiners ahead of time

Create a packet of key information that you share with the new joiner a week ahead of their start date. It can be anywhere from a one-pager to a lengthier document, to a video, and you can update it and re-use it over the years.

Some onboarding ideas for what to include in your welcome packet:

  • Your mission and vision statements.
  • A timeline of key company milestones and fun facts about your founding story
  • An overview of your key products with images and feature descriptions
  • Case studies that demonstrate your impact on customers and/or society
  • Organizational chart with names, pictures, and titles, so they can get a head start on learning names!

For bonus points: Print out your PDF and send it to your new joiner’s house so they can flip through it more easily. Everyone loves deliveries!

Tip #2: Time your existing company events to create an engaging and busy first few weeks

Does your team already hold regularly occurring internal events? These could include all-company gatherings (like Town Halls or leadership Q&As), functional team meetings (like brainstorms or check-ins), or social events (like a monthly happy hour).

Try planning your team calendar so that these events and meetings occur during your new joiners’ first two weeks at the company. With a little bit of advance planning or rearranging (and no extra cost), you’ve beefed up your new joiner’s onboarding agenda with fun and engaging events that help them dive right into your company culture and routines.

For bonus points: Load these events into your new joiner’s calendar so, on their first day, they see lots of fun activities already planned for them.

Tip #3: Pair the new joiner with a buddy

Setting up your new joiner with a buddy gives them an automatic friend on their first day! Ask for team members to volunteer to commit 2–3 hours in the next three months to be a buddy. Ideally, the buddy is familiar enough with your organization (over 6 months tenure) that they can explain team policies and culture, and are not the new joiner’s manager. Once you’ve selected a buddy, here are some activity ideas:

  • Introduce the buddy and new joiner over email about a week before they join, giving the buddy an opportunity to welcome the new joiner and share any informal tips before their first day.
  • Set up a lunch or coffee between the buddy and new joiner on their second or third day, so they have someone to share questions and observations with after the initial deluge of information.
  • Ask the buddy to schedule a one-month and three-month check-in with the new joiner, so that they don’t feel like onboarding stops at activities of the first week!

For bonus points: Try to identify a common interest or trait between the buddy and new joiner, which can help as an ice-breaker. Make sure to go beyond the obvious (e.g., same university) to highlight that team members at your company strive to connect over shared interests and behaviors that go deeper than surface-level.

Thanks for checking out our top onboarding ideas for startups and SMEs!

Download the complete e-book:

Download our e-book Onboarding Your New Hires: A (Practical!) Starter Guide for more onboarding information, tools and templates.

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why good employees quit

Why do good employees quit?

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Losing a star employee can feel devastating (no matter the size and scale of your company). So it’s not surprising there’s a plethora of research on why good employees quit their job and how to mitigate that outcome. Many say that people don’t quit a job, they quit a boss, but as I dug further into the research, I found it’s a lot more complicated than that…

In particular, Facebook’s internal research about why good employees quit their job at that company, recently published in Harvard Business Review, tells a really interesting story about how to lose, and keep, great employees.

Some key takeaways on why good employees quit Facebook:

Good employees quit their job at Facebook for a few main reasons:

  • The employee no longer enjoyed their job
  • Their strengths weren’t being used
  • They weren’t growing in their career

On the flip side, this means that managers can retain great employees by customizing experiences for their people, including:

  • Enabling team members to do the work they enjoy most
  • Helping team members play to their strengths
  • Carving a path for career development that accommodates personal priorities

What does this look like in the day to day?

It’s things like making sure you know whether a top individual performer on your team actually wants to become a manager, and if they don’t, thinking through how their role and responsibilities can grow in other ways.

I’ll close by noting that that most of the research about why good employees quit – or employee turnover in general – has focused on the United States and Europe. However, at Shortlist, we recently conducted a survey with almost 6,000 Kenyan jobseekers which touched on these topics.

We found that the two most important things jobseekers are looking for in a new opportunity are (1) career growth (69.2% of respondents) and (2) alignment with company mission (14.4% of respondents). When you contrast this with those who stated the most important things were salary (only 8.5% of respondents) and stability (only 4.2% of respondents) — clearly, jobseekers are looking for a lot more than your standard 9-to-5!

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Related: Happier Workplaces: Four Essential Ingredients for Building Them