Review : The Millennials: Exploring the World of the Largest Living Generation

The Millennials

The Millennials – a generation that seems to perplex everyone, in terms of their attitudes, behaviour, consumption patterns, and work ethos. Over the last few years, I have been keeping abreast of a tome of literature from across sources – academic papers, marketing reports, psychology studies, documentaries, raw data (when it was available), and more – just to get a handle on it.  The more I read, the more i get the sense that they are the same  adjectives used about my generation, when we first entered the workforce in a newly liberalised India. Within a few years of joining the workforce, we were earning more than our parents (invariably government employees); we spent like the currency was going to be demonetised the following weekend; we changed jobs like crazy, we married late (and it was cool not be married too); we were more open about sexuality, and relationships; and, friends were the new family.

But, there are two major differences between a post liberalisation generation, and the one that entered the workforce 20 years later, is the reliance on technology; We were much more the physical human network generation; this one is more the ‘lives in the social network’ bubble. The second is, the earlier generation was more focused on career, this one is focused more on experiences.

Despite the changes in the economy over the last two and half decades, there is very little source material, apart from newspaper and magazine articles, on the millennial generation in India, and how they deal with the workplace, or even the market place. Much of what exists is the extrapolation of western studies to draw conclusions on Indian millennial. There was a really good study, a few years ago, by JWT that looked at Millinneal attitudes in BRICS countries, but studies like the one’s PEW conducts for the US market on a regular basis, are few and far between. I have been gleaning my information by reading sector reports.

The Millennials: Exploring the World of the Largest Living Generation by Subramanian S Kalpathi does address some of those gaps, especially those concerning the attitudes of millennials at the workplace. Looking at a variety of organisational eco systems – from an Ola to a Maker’s Asylum – the book looks at how to deal with a generation that seems to want to walk it’s own path, at the same time as get paid for it. The book looks at the various kinds of motivations that may inspire the millennial, and very little of it seems to be money for the sake of money. The generation seems to be looking for a whole bunch of other intangibles including belonging and purpose.

As i  began reading the book, i began asking a simple question – at a management level, we look at very precise metrics. How much productivity, how much output, how much revenue – all of which are needed. We set KRA’s and KPI’s on the basis of this. The big question is that, for a generation that is not driven by the tangible, how do you measure and motivate a new workforce. Money is a standard, and is expected as a pure hygiene factor. Lack of it can demotivate, but in itself it guarantees nothing. What motivates are the other ‘intangible’ factors. How do you define and measure those.

How do you balance out issues such as discipline and freedom – i remember having rows on this with HR, when i was a newcomer into the workforce. How do you look at varied experience as opposed to a steady growth path, and how do you balance out organisational objectives, with personal growth. It is going to be interesting to look at this in a world where jobs are getting more insecure; and protectionist. This generation is the largest generation, not just in India but across the world. Maybe, you should just let them organise themselves to deliver broadly defined goals, while our generation plays mentor rather than manager.

The book is definitely worth reading. I am hoping the author will update case studies every two years 🙂

You can buy the book here.