As we welcome an influx of millennials into the workplace, the familiar contours of corporate culture are changing.
Research indicates that this generation is looking for a flexible space that allows them greater autonomy and a more personalized employee-experience. Their strong grasp of technology along with their need for flexibility and adaptability will also disrupt the very nature of the workplace in the years ahead.
In the Indian context, the environment in recent years has become increasingly volatile and complex, encouraging companies to become more agile in order to adapt and pre-empt the unprecedented changes facing us. In this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world, companies need to weave in flexibility and adaptability into their structure, processes, culture and capabilities. The need of the hour is to shape a workplace that is far more entrepreneurial.
As our work environment adapts to the generational shift that is happening, some of the ways in which organizations can help build an entrepreneurial culture are:
- Focus on Acquiring Talent the Right Way: The talent acquisition process needs to be rigorous and must assess for learning agility as a key skill. This is an imperative to make the organization agile and flexible. Our approach to acquiring talent itself needs to change to keep pace with the collaborative ways of working that the “shared economy” of today is moving towards. For example: The world of project-based work and freelancing versus the traditional paradigm of lifetime jobs.
- Inspire and Incubate Innovation: The culture and leadership behaviour in organizations needs to encourage employees to “fail fast” rather than reprimand employees for experimentation and calculated risk-taking. An organization that offers psychological safety and looks at failures as learning opportunities will have a definite edge. Nurturing diversity of viewpoints and consciously building diverse teams will also help drive the innovation agenda.
- Balance Purpose and Profit: Research indicates that companies with a larger purpose beyond just financial growth tend to perform better than their counterparts — additionally, millennials explicitly look for social responsibility as a key feature of their employers of choice. Being purpose-driven will also bring in stability, even in the face of disruptive change.
- Encourage Dissent: Smart young millennials thrive in environments where dissent is encouraged. To engage young talent, ensure that they are involved in decision-making rather than just ‘recipients’ of decisions taken at a higher level. This sort of democratic and inclusive culture is something that most millennials take for granted.
These changes in the workplace come with a set of challenges. Organizations today are increasingly multigenerational. Managing the expectations of millennials alongside that of Gen Xers and baby boomers in leadership roles may sometimes be a major challenge. An additional key challenge is balancing the need for processes and controls, especially in larger organizations, whilst maintaining the flexibility and agility of a start-up.
An entrepreneurial culture helps the organization be both stable and agile at the same time, rooted in its larger purpose and values. New career paths open up, breakthrough ideas are nurtured every day, and in-house talent pools are continuously identified and developed. There is no stronger competitive edge than what an entrepreneurial culture offers.