Millennials form the largest pool of talent that are currently powering Nigeria and the world’s tech ecosystems. In fact, as at 2015 they became the world’s largest generation workforce, according to a Gallop report. They are expected to account for 75 per cent of total workforce in the near future. On the customer side, millennials’ expectations are reshaping the discussion around product design and experience.
Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of the 1991 book Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069, define the millennial generation as consisting of individuals born between 1982 and 2004.
Due to their high talent quotient and big appetite for innovative products, millennials are forcing many companies, particularly those leveraging technology to serve their customers, to adapt workplace culture to accommodate the progressive, tech-driven approach of millennials. It has become the new normal in the tech industry to recreate systems and in doing that; many companies are struggling to know where to apply the brakes and how to manage the insatiable expectations of this generation.
On Friday, 31 May, experts and professionals across companies leveraging technology to reinvent their services came together to address the challenges businesses face. The Millennial Hangout which is a quarterly event organised by BusinessDay with the goal of creating a platform for millennials and businesses to interact, was hosting the first tech edition in collaboration with Luno, Cordros Asset Management and Lasena.
The experts include Chinedu Obidiegwu, marketing and community lead at Luno, Morenike Da-Silva, managing director, Cordros Asset Management, Olawunmi Onawunmi, Andela’s director, Partner Engineering, Uchechi Nwaukwa, chief of technology, Signal Alliance, and Nana Annah, CEO Nester Solution Service. Some of the takeaways from the session include:
Andela provides equal opportunity
Olawunmi Onawunmi a non-software developer and whose function as director, partner engineering makes her responsible for over 500 engineers in Nigeria and Ghana, said during a fireside chat that Andela is an equal opportunity working environment. The company which probably has the most millennial workforce in Nigeria said that during selection it does not prioritise gender or orientation.
“As a matter of fact, we have quotas for women,” she disclosed. “We try to encourage women to join.” The company has even had an all-women cycle which was dedicated to encourage women to come in as software developers. Within the learning cycle Andela is constantly looking for women who show keen interest and are ready to put in the work.
We have a distributed customer service system”
Chinedu Obidiegwu said that Luno which boast of nearly 3 million customers have to adopt an approach that ensures that each of them is not alienated and their experiences are personalised. The distributed customer service strategy ensures that customer needs are addressed round the clock.
“We have always wanted to build a new financial system,” he said. “When you have that kind of project you start thinking of how you will get a billion customers and still be able to show each of them love that they deserve. The culture that drives everyone is that we love our customers.”
“Deliver what your market wants”
Before going into any business, you have to know what your market wants. Annah said she started logistic business, doing it the manual way. “I started because I had a bad delivery and I am one person that likes to fix things, so I thought I could do better. So I asked why it is so difficult to do? I identified the market immediately. I just wanted to provide an excellent service.
“I had no prior experience, but I had a problem I needed a solution to it and the only solution was tech which I adopted,” she said. “So far value and the vision is always greater than the challenge. That’s what keeps us going.”
“The manager creates the environment for millennials to thrive”
Uchechi Nwaukwa who leads a team of about 70 talented millennials at Signal Alliance said that it is the manager’s responsibility to know what drives the team.
“They love to play, to have fun, so you have to find the culture that encourages fun,” he said. For instance the millennials like sporty dressing. You can be responsible for sporty at the same time.” He also recommended building the future of the millennials into the future of the company.
“There is something that Microsoft does where they tell you that you will be incentivised by milestone. They give you a visual letter that shows what you have earned per milestone. That is one of the things that I introduced; they could actually go to the portal and see exactly what they have achieved and what that is worth as incentive in their salary.”
“It’s best to be involved as much as you can”
Morenike Da-Silva said that in dealing with millennials she has learnt to listen and get involved as much as possible. However, it is also important to set the boundaries between fun and work. Hence they have to get the message that there is no free money to collect and that free money has no value.
“Trying to bend them beyond who they are will make them become who they are not supposed to be,” she cautioned. She also noted that respecting their decisions when they want to leave is very important.