A seismic shift is underway in today’s multi-generational workforce, as younger employees take on leadership positions, challenge traditional organisational structures and propel digital transformation. We see 4-5 generations working under one roof and in 2030 Millennials (born 1980-94) and GenZ (born 1995-2009) will make up 75% of the workforce.
As the leaders before us, it’s our job to help younger generations to become future leaders. It’s not about answering to their every whim, it’s about understanding what motivates them, their fears and how they learn and grow to enable them to maximise their potential as leaders. They will be in charge to shape the Future of Work, so we need to minimise generational differences and rethink workplace design and collaboration arrangements.
‘Millennials are so entitled, and they don’t like to work hard!’ is a sentence I hear all too often from older generations. There is a misperception that Millennial’s behaviour is just a fad and that they grow out of it once they work in our teams. Their priorities are tightly connected to their values, their upbringing and social markers. Generations are a product of the events, the leaders, development and trends of their time. We have to understand how these values and priorities impact our workplace cultures and co-create the workplace of the 21st century in collaboration with all generations involved.
‘Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.’ – Simon Sinek
I have developed the Workplace Evolution Model with some key differences between the old way of doing things and the way younger generations work:
2020 has shown us that leadership needed to change and leaders had to focus on a new set of skills to successfully navigate their teams and organisations through a completely new landscape of work culture. One of my recent blogs ‘Lead the Future’ goes deeper into the leadership sills for the workplace of the 21st century: https://www.intactteams.com/lead-the-future-leadership-skills-for-the-workplace-of-the-21st-century/
What has changed?
One of the biggest changes we see is around communication and using technology. Also known as digital natives, millennials and Gen Z grew up with technology, which helps them understand and appreciate how technology can shape the way they work, live, and play. All leaders need to be tech-savvy especially in a hybrid world. That doesn’t mean leaders have to become experts but they have to embrace technology and leverage of the opportunity it places for their people and organisations.
One of the highest priorities for younger generations is ‘purpose before profit.’ They seek to join organisations that lead with mission and purpose, and have a corporate culture that reflects the same. They want to change the world but also are pursuing self-improvement and want employers to help. They feel classic workforce models, old workplace policies, and performance management standards need to adapt with the times. However, traditionally, corporate culture has been top-down and rigid, with mandated working hours, seating arrangements, stipulated lunch breaks; basically, the antithesis to the new generation of workers.
Millennials and GenZ are seeking workplaces where they can work any time from anywhere which suits the hybrid and flexible workplace of the 21st Century.
Millennials and GenZ are hyperconnected yet disengaged. Younger generations are asking for more feedback, collaboration and cross departmental engagement. Organisations need to take advantage of digital technology to stay in touch with their workforce but be smart about the output. Technology is just the enabler, conversations are key. Reach out to younger generations (and vice versa), ask what motivates them and how they work best. Put them in charge of the technological landscape and hold them accountable.
The organisational goal is not in question. The question is how to get there by closing the generational gap.
If you want to work with me to shape your multi-gen team, email on firstname.lastname@example.org