There has been a LOT of stuff talked about, in relation to generational challenges faced by employers and employees; Millennials, Gen X, Gen Y etc etc. There is a time bomb waiting to go off and employers are paying lip service to it, assuming (in many cases) that it will all “just be okay, like it always is”?

Much of what is said has been based upon a few studies undertaken, and/or books written by “experts”. Yet how many of these experts work with both business leaders (to know what is needed) AND young adults (to know how they operate)?

As a speaker, trainer and mentor to chief exec groups (Internationally) and one who also works with between 20’000 – 50’000 young adults aged 13-24 every year, I have a genuine finger on the pulse of what employers can expect as these people enter your workforce and management functions.

It’s our fault!

The 30-60 year olds who delivered this generation, have, in no small measure, created a generation that have a huge upside AND downside to your future business and team engagement.

They are NOT (in the main);

Aliens
lazy
unfocussed
rude
scruffy
thoughtless
monosyllabic
dreamers

… okay…. they might a little bit dreamy!

They have been told that they are amazing, that they can do anything, and that if they challenge us enough that they get what they want in the end, without too much effort.

They are a bright bunch on the whole, with many more (than my was the case in my day) being intellectually our superiors. They are “nicer” to each other than we ever were and are prepared to walk away from things that are not right, as well as stand up for things that are not deemed as fair. The majority are good, however the few aggressive, disaffected and detached edges of this group are able to cause the type of chaos in society and the workplace never seen before. They will need dealing with.

They do (in the main);

Care deeply about people, wellbeing and the planet. You will always get your odd-ball who hates everything and everybody, but in the main this breed are not bullies, and accept people for who and what they are in a way that puts our generation to shame.
Feel huge pressure to get things right first time (because we have programmed them to believe that failure is the end… X-factor, talent shows and exams etc). Instant success and gratification without too much effort is a thing for them.
Have skills, integrity, love, care, empathy in abundance.
Have access to resources, technology and more, that could change or save the planet in ways not seen before in history.
Believe that my generation have well and truly “shafted” them economically, environmentally, politically and more besides. I do tend to agree with them as well.
Want change, and would be prepared to shake the foundations of society to make them happen if they deem something as unfair.

They will not sit in a job all their life, bored off their skulls in the hope of a pension down the line, and will vote with their feet in search of a quality of life “now”.

young woman

Some may say that this is hedonistic? I might agree with you in some context, however, they have been programmed to expect that things that require effort will be done for them. The economic and societal impact of their search for happiness and the “I will do it another day” mentality, will impact heavily on staff retention, engagement, productivity, learning and development… and so much more.

You might “observe” an apparent apathy, “whatever”, or “I don’t care” demeanour, but look closer and challenge their thinking. Pounce on something positive as you look them in the eye and you will see that many of them seek the glory, the fame, the money, the recognition that all humans desire, but …. and this is a big but, many of them pretend to be apathetic to avoid “having a go” and risking failure. They are not comfortable with the praise and recognition that they crave. I see this ALL THE TIME in my education sector work. This in turn could possibly lead to ridicule from their peers, and in todays society their need to be “liked and accepted” is much bigger than their need to be “trusted and respected”.

Self esteem and emotional resilience is the biggest issue facing young people, and the impact this WILL have on the workplace will be epic.

How does this impact you as an employer?

They could talk the talk, but when put under pressure to deliver and perform, they could hide, or worse still, run for the hills in search of the next “feel good” moment. Even worse… their fears could develop into work related absence, stress, anxiety, panic attacks and even depression, that if not managed and prepared for, could lead to financial and legal penalties for the business.

How can we best prepare and manage these people?

  • Train your team to understand the people entering the workforce
  • Create a workplace environment and culture that “really’ makes the team members feel valued and included
  • Don’t expect them to do anything that is not correct ethically or morally
  • Give the team a reason “why” they must succeed (the purpose) rather than just the what and how to do it
  • Make the workplace more… well… FUN to be around!
  • Check in with them regularly to ensure that they are happy and well and on track
  • Do this and you will have a great workforce

Love them and they will be loyal.

Mistake these simple tasks and “simplistic nonsense” and see how that works out for you long term!!!

They are coming into your workplace now, so not taking action is NOT an option if you want an engaged and productive workforce with a low attrition.