15 Jul 2017 21:57 IST

Indian millennials lack critical skills, according to a HBR Ascend survey

The survey had approx. 1700 respondents

Excessive workload and office politics are the biggest barriers to effective performance

Leading up to the World Youth Skills Day on July 15, HBR Ascend, an online learning companion for millennials and graduating students, conducted a survey that found that millennials in India are not equipped with the skills they need to be successful in the careers of tomorrow. The short survey set out to understand the challenges faced by the young Indian workforce and the key skills they need to excel in in today’s dynamic workplace

Approximately 1,700 responses from people between 18 and 34 years of age were representative of various industries in India.

According to the survey, 40.33 per cent of respondents said that their biggest barrier to performing more effectively at the workplace is “excessive workload.” The second biggest barrier cited was “office politics,” according to 39.17 per cent respondents.

Speaking about the findings of this survey, Vivek Chachra, Country Manager (India), Harvard Business Publishing, said, “The aim of the survey was to gain a better understanding of how millennials view the workplace and what factors companies must consider while onboarding a millennial workforce. Burnout is a pressing concern for people of this segment. While the top two challenges remain constant across age groups, the more tenured group (aged between 25-34) felt that excessive workload is their top barrier (42.92 per cent respondents), while the younger millennials (18-24 years) identified office politics (42.39 per cent respondents) as the main pain point.”

Barriers of entry

When the results were further segregated by gender, there was a difference in what women and men perceive as barriers to work: office politics was cited as the top barrier for women (43.24 per cent respondents), whereas excessive workload was the top barrier for men (42.20 per cent respondents). Segregation of Men : Women = 77.83 per cent : 22.17 per cent

While millennials appear to be quite confident of the technical skills needed to carry out their jobs, softer skills such as stress management, negotiation or persuasion that are needed to deal with excessive workload and office politics is not something you learn in school or while doing your higher education.

The survey highlights the lack of four skills in millennials today, that are critical skills to dealing with vulnerabilities at the workplace – emotional intelligence, stress management, persuasion and analytical thinking.

~ To cope with a difficult work environment, it is essential for individuals involved to develop resilience, but only 13 per cent of respondents felt that emotional intelligence was an area of strength for them.

~ The survey also indicated that a meagre 4.5 per cent of respondents agreed that they had the persuasion skills needed to be successful at the workplace.

~ Only 8.5 per cent respondents felt that analytical thinking is an area of strength for them.

Critical skills

Amit Aggarwal, SVP, Learning and Development, Genpact, said: “The four critical skills this survey highlights are spot on. Soft skills like empathy, emotional intelligence and persuasion will be even more critical as workspaces become more dynamic and machine-human interplay rapidly evolves. Individuals need to work hard on learning these and companies too need to think about how they will integrate more of these into their development efforts.”

Yuvaraj Srivastava, Group Chief Human Resource Officer at MakeMyTrip.com said, “Findings of the study validate the perception most of us carry about the enablers needed to make workplaces more productive and effective. I think the four skills identified had always been critical to succeed in any era however, in the current ecosystem the degree and propensity of their need is accentuated due to the increase in the dynamism and competitiveness prevalent in the business environment. I also believe that onus of helping millennials hone up these skills not only lies with the educational institutions and organisations they work for, but also with the families of the youngsters.”

Mr. Chachra also added, “Young managers must spend time learning and imbibing critical soft skills, which form the building blocks of a successful career.”