Millennials, commonly known as Generation Y, were born in the 1980s and mid to late 1990s. Not only are they currently the largest generation of active workers, they have a drastically different outlook on what they expect from their employment experience. It is said that Millennials are well educated, skilled in technology, very self-confident, have plenty of energy and high expectations for themselves. According to Maull (2017), Millennials seek praise and immediate results in their work, have a desire for instant gratification and are looking for quick advancements in the workplace. Millennials are always seeking challenges yet the work-life balance is of utmost importance to them.
Firstly, let us talk about why millennials have a certain type of mindset. They were born in a thriving technology era where information is so easily accessible (Stollen & Wolf, 2017). Virtual platforms have allowed them to freely share their opinions and thoughts to whoever and wherever, and they are able to get immediate responses such as “likes, comments, shares and followers”. This in turn has made them feel valued and accepted and increases their social awareness. With all this instant satisfaction and endless information accessible at the tips of their fingers, millennials are a confident and outspoken bunch with lots of creative ideas; this provides the recruitment world in Malaysia a new and exciting environment to be in.* They are all about expressing themselves and tend to be susceptible to changes and quicker to adapt.
We have heard a lot about Millennials job hopping and consequences for several industries, but we have never heard how this affects the Education sector therefore we have spoken to a few individuals from the Education industry who shared their insights on this situation and here are their responses:
Kindergarten, Centre Manager, 34 – Kuala Lumpur
“I have to agree that millennials tend to job hop because most of them do not know exactly what they want to do. Some study in a particular field and then realize perhaps it is not in their area of interest. I believe what contributed to that is because millennials have grown up hearing that ‘the world is your oyster’, ‘you can do anything as long as you set your mind to it’, ’if you find your passion you’ll never work a day in your life’. This type of conditioning will encourage no fear of risk or failure. Some of them also have a perception that teaching is much easier than the corporate life because the working hours are shorter and it is more suitable for married life or when they start a family as demands/expectations of a teaching job are lower, which is not entirely true. I also believe that the education sector is generally stable and constantly growing because it is the one thing that parents do not compromise on. Hence, there are increasingly more schools and learning centres, and teachers are overall in demand. One thing that I've learned in this school is to look for a person's strengths and harness that to be an asset to the team. The employees in return would feel good about themselves and their contributions.”
International School, Elementary Teacher, 24 – Selangor
“Young teachers may be affected by a few common reasons, they are either thrown in to the deep-end too fast before they can even find their feet, they will also often find themselves committing more hours than stated in their contract and not getting paid for it, and young people these days are well educated so if they are not happy with their jobs they are not afraid to leave and find a new one because they are armed with degrees and certificates that can open many doors for them. My first teaching job was terrible, I needed more support, for someone to monitor me and let me know if I was doing a good job or a bad job. In the end I felt so lost, unconfident and underpaid for the work I was doing; I decided to leave. Employers should provide a good and flexible work-life balance, it’s important to everyone. If extra time has been put in at work then it should be fairly compensated by a day in lieu or a few hours off during the working week. Employers should provide a better learning curve too, good training, support and mentoring will improve the retention of young teachers.”
Private University, Dean of Business & Management, 61 – Kuala Lumpur
“The impact of lecturers’ job hopping is a great issue for the university. First of all it takes a lot of time to find a suitable replacement, universities also become very cautious in hiring the right talent. When we come across profiles we will disregard the resumes that indicates job hopping, i.e tenures less than two years, no matter how impressive the profile may be. I believe educators should stay in an organization for a minimum of two years in order to be well-groomed, not just in teaching but also in the business of the school, which includes other areas such as marketing, research, admin etc. This will impact the development of a ‘young blood’ educator as they will lack experience, not giving themselves a real opportunity to broaden their horizons. There is more to an educator’s role than teaching alone, therefore if I may say, not everyone can be an educator as it is not everyone’s cup of tea.”
International School, Head of Learning Support & Science Teacher, 29 – Selangor
“There is a booming demand within the international school industry, some are offering great packages so the temptation to move is definitely there. Also, our mindsets are different these days, because as young people we are always aiming for ways to challenge and improve ourselves and are willing to step into new environments in order to do so. From my experience and my other colleagues, we’ve worked in schools before where we encountered a lot of stress, most teachers do tend to commit way more hours stated in our contracts, we are actively involved in the preparation of school activities, we take our work home and even come in at the weekends to ensure the school is running as it should. Most people think teaching means shorter working hours but they don’t know that 40% is the actual teaching and 60% is all the paperwork and preparation we have to do. Right now, I’m actually still working a lot of overtime at my new school, however I feel more valued and that alone keeps me going. I think schools should provide better packages for teachers in terms of good support, some working flexibility in order for us to have a good work-life balance. The most important of all I think is recognizing the efforts of teachers, award us to show a token of appreciation, this will help retain us, knowing that we are adding value to the system because at the end of the day this is why we have chosen to become teachers – to make a positive change.”
Private School, Head of Studies, 28 – Kuala Lumpur
“I do believe young people in general tend to change jobs often. I think this is happening because there is a lot of opportunities out there and if something isn’t working for us we will make a change almost without any hesitation because we are well educated not just academically but also socially, we are determined to be successful and we know it’s important to feel positively challenged, valued and happy in a working environment. I remember my first teaching job, it was not a good experience for me. I had little training and almost no feedback on how to improve myself, and all the extra hours I was clocking in was pretty much going unnoticed and I never got thanked for my efforts – like it was just expected of me. Towards the end I was tired, unhappy, and felt like I was being taken for granted so I left. Schools should really provide mentorship for their new staff, we are here and we want to learn to be better, provide us with some progression opportunities, show us and tell us what it takes to climb the ladder and we will put in the extra work but we’d also like to hear ‘Thank You – Great Job!’ from time to time.”
Most Millennials have no idea what they want to major in, let alone what career they would like to pursue. This is why we – Monroe, as a recruitment firm in Kuala Lumpur, are here to help those who are unsure of what they would like to pursue in the working industry but have the potential to do the job.* Freedman (2013) found that up to 50 percent of students get into college without declaring a major, while 75 percent of students in college will change their major at least once. Millennials in general are unsure of what they want or do not know for sure what they want to pursue in their career. Some took on an education degree only to realize that it is not their area of interest; they seek to continue ‘exploring’ or ‘trying out’ other professions. Unfortunately for Millennials, they are the product of too much choice and it is never been easier to find a career as they can either teach private tuition, Montessori, ESL, primary school, government school, private school, international school, pre-school and more. They are constantly trying new things, exploring different avenues and experiencing the world to gain as much experience as they can.
Millennials have expressed their need to be sufficiently trained with good levels of mentoring, as well as frequent and constructive feedback as they are on a quest for constant self-development (Overfelt, 2017). Provide them with guidance, create a career path within the organization that allows them to grow professionally and ‘move up the ranks’. It’s important to tell them what it takes to get to the next level and illustrate all the paths available to get there.
According to Blackhawk Engagement Solutions (2017), about 85 percent of employees want to be rewarded for exceeding expectations, followed by receiving a promotion. Millennials are interested in meaningful recognition that helps them feel empowered and good about themselves. More than 80 percent of employees surveyed felt undervalued, mainly due to a lack of recognition. Unlike any other recruitment agenciy in Malaysia, Monroe recognizes great potential and is always willing to assist them by providing the best services.* It is so easy for us to praise our friends, family, and children when they do something well but we do not do the same at our workplace. They said that they were motivated to work harder and stay at their jobs longer when they received appreciation for the work they have done (Brooks, 2014).
The time and money invested in hiring and developing educators impacts the education institution dearly. This change can also affect the students’ morale as some build good relationships with their lecturers or teachers and have become accustomed to a particular method of learning. It may be difficult for young students to adjust to a new educator’s way, which may harm the effectiveness of a student’s learning (Thomas & Hammond, 2017) as well as influencing the institution’s reputation. On the flip side, young educators miss out on the opportunity to refine their skill sets in all areas of the business and could face difficulty in securing a stable position in another school or university as their lack of longevity will be hard to ignore.
There is no certain resolution to retain educators but a good start would be to reward Millennials with fair time off, present them with an award to let them know they are recognized and valued, offer better packages or give a promotion if they are meeting and exceeding the expectations because Millennials will not be satisfied until they get what they deserve and as a recruitment firm in Kuala Lumpur, we too want the best for them.* These simple acts of consideration are likely to make them stay longer with the school, improve their overall performances and actually strengthen the school’s culture.
In fact, what Millennials want from their workplace may not be so different to any other generation. Perhaps the key is to stop looking at the generational differences and start focusing more on the commonalities. Ultimately each and everyone one of us strive for a healthy work-life balance, a chance to self-develop and be recognized for our hard work. Therefore, the recruitment firms in Malaysia are here to help as Millennials may just be the generation to spark that change.*
The article was written by Aainaa Ili Merican and Stephanie Ng, executive recruitment consultants from Monroe Consulting Group Malaysia