09 Apr This is What Millennials Want from Employers in Ghana
One of the most exciting sessions of the Quantum Leap Career Fair 2019 is the millennials panel. The panel featured Ashley Zakia Ancordi, Community and Project Manager for SFAN, Prince Dogbe, Senior Analyst at GFA Consulting, Joy Hammond, National Service Personnel at Volta River Authority (VRA), Collins Losu, Student at the University of Ghana (UG), and Bankole Williams, Advocacy Chairperson of Ghana Disability Federation — and was moderated by yours truly, me.
I was super excited to lead this discourse for two broad reasons:
- The 2018 edition of Deloitte Millennial Survey suggests that millennials’ confidence in business and employers’ loyalty deteriorates.
- Within the next 15 years, some 375 million young people will become of working age in Africa. Understanding what excites and motivates them at work is super important.
Since the event, below are my key takeaways from the conversation on what millennials want from their employers with a little pause and thought in the week.
First, millennials want to work in an ethically conscious company.
“If I’m looking for a job, I want to work for a company that is ethically conscious.”
As stated succinctly by Ashley Ancordi, Project Manager of SFAN, every panelist on the millennial panel underlined the need for employers to create frameworks that foster an ethical climate in their companies.
According to Deloitte, “there continues to be a stark mismatch between what millennials believe responsible businesses should achieve and what they perceive businesses’ actual priorities to be — but where matches exist, the perception is that those companies are more successful, have more stimulating work environments and do a better job of developing talent.”
Much ethical misconduct happens in organizations that young people don’t get to talk about for fear of losing their jobs, Ashley explains. “These issues often affect the performance of workers.”
Obviously, anyone looking to recruit millennials (and their sister generation known as Gen Z – people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s) must, first, work on building a business that behaves ethically. In short, Millennials want to work with “leaders whose decisions might benefit the world—and their careers.”
Second, diversity and inclusion matter to millennials.
“It’s regrettable for an individual to prepare very well to have an impact on society only to be denied an opportunity simply because he or she is disabled. I think the opportunity should be given to all and sundry to show their talents.”
Attracting and retaining skilled millennials is easier when companies and their management teams create a culture of diversity and inclusion. As a visually impaired student hoping to contribute his quota to the development of his country, Collins Losu is familiar with the frustration of judging a book by its cover. “Companies should plan with diversity in mind from the very beginning and create policies that make diversity part of their system and not an afterthought.”
Creating a policy with a purpose is extremely vital. “What we’ve done, with help from stakeholders like DFID and the British Council, is to help employers in Ghana develop diversity education policy. In our employers’ sensitization, we say the policy must be clear in what it seeks to achieve. It’s only when you succeed in integrating the values and the principles of the employer into the diversity policy that you can implement it properly,” Bankole Williams, Advocacy Chairperson of Ghana Disability Federation, explains.
For anyone reading this article, the subject of diversity and inclusion is not new at all. The merits are equally clear. Experts say that really diverse companies outperform industry standards by 35%. According to a McKinsey study, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry peers. Yet, few companies in Ghana can boast of committing to creating a truly diverse and inclusive workforce.
As Prince Dogbe, Senior Analyst at GFA Consulting, points out, “A lot of us, millennials, want to be involved in the decision-making and management processes of the company. My employer has created that environment where my views are taken into consideration. I believe that if other employers can adopt that strategy …it will create an environment that is suitable for their workers.”
Third, millennials want self-directed career paths and support.
Apart from financial rewards, a clear career path plays a key role in how millennials value an employment opportunity.
For Prince Dogbe, the clear career progression expressed in his employer’s job description and interview was one major reason he took the job. “When I saw the job description, I jumped on it. I was so much interested. It was because of the clear career path the company has laid down that motivated me into the role.”
To quote Deloitte’s Millennials Survey report, employment precarity is a defining part of the contemporary workplace fabric.
Hence, companies that create clear pictures of what success means and are willing to invest in their workers’ personal development and well-being are more appealing to millennials.
As a business owner, progressively working to acquire more business, network, and customers, this can seem like a daunting task. But if you wish to keep and get the best from your team, consider observing your young workers’ personal wellbeing.
“I read an article about graduate employability while at the University. There was this guy working for a company in the U.S., and he worked so hard to prove himself, but the company wasn’t giving him any support or opportunities. He ended up committing suicide. I think employers should take the time to show their workers they are valuable,” Ashley highlights.
Fourth, millennials want employers to communicate more effectively.
Creating a system where everyone clearly defined goals and expectations are understood by everyone can make a huge difference.
For Joy Hammond, National Service Personnel at VRA, coming from American culture into the Ghanaian — where many expectations are unspoken, and age often influence decisions — it’s impossible to be effective without a clear roadmap. “I was coming in from the private sector into the public sector. In the U.S, my boss is a very vocal person. Coming into the Ghanaian culture, a lot of the expectations are unspoken. It’s not clearly laid out. There’s an understanding that you’re young. And so yes, you may have some views, but you have to understand why the previous generation implemented certain things in certain ways. One of the ways I’ve been able to cope is to not go in there with just my views but to understand why they’ve chosen to do certain things. And then realize there are unspoken expectations I’m not accountable for. However, how I manage what they communicated to me that I am accountable for.”
To rephrase, if you do not have a clear communication loop and feedback mechanism, you’re shooting yourself and your staff in the foot.
Love it or loathe it, the future belongs to the incoming generations of workers.
There’s no need to overthink this. Looking at the number of young people entering the workforce in the coming years, businesses that ignore this generation’s needs are setting themselves up for failure. If people are the most important resource for a company, then these recommendations are of prime importance. These ideas - creating an ethical system, building an inclusive and diverse workforce, setting a clear career path, and defining your expectations - can help you attract and retain skilled millennials. Click To Tweet
Remember, your relationship with the business you’re building, and the people you work with is of vital importance. Do it well.
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Quantum Leap Career Fair 2019 photographs by Brothers Media Production
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the Founder & President of SFAN (Stars From All Nations). When he’s not building SFAN and helping entrepreneurs and rising professionals create fulfilling careers, he’s telling African innovation stories or advocating for people-centered policy. Tom-Chris is a former consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana, and the author of the forthcoming book: Breaking the Limits. He is a thought leader on youth development, social entrepreneurship, technological innovation, and the future of work.