June 14, 2019
The Millennial Shift, Solving the Problem You Didn't Know You Have
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Fact, according to the Department of Labor as of 2018 "millennials" comprise 38% of the workforce. Inc Magazine reports that by next year they will make up 50% of the workforce and by 2025 it is estimated that 75% of the workforce worldwide will be MILLENNIALS! Corporate leaders in America beware. This labor force represents a lot more than your grandkids or sons and daughters.
The millennials are nothing like Gen X who wanted to get everything their parents, the Baby boomer, acquired in a fraction of the time for not near the effort—and frankly the millennials not only don't relate to the boomers, they don't want to relate.
The "Millennial Shift" as I call it is going to have the single greatest impact on American Business in history. This is not a bold prediction; it is a fact. It might do you well to take a good hard look at who they are, what they value and how all that will impact the future of your business.
So while you have been rigidly applied to the development of your business success over the last several decades and likely enjoying the profits of one of the longest bull market runs in history, the millennials have been observing all of this. You brought your business through the age of the internet, or perhaps were born in it; in either case, you have been keenly focused on economies of scale, leveraging technology and figuring out the competitive advantage you need to win.
Not millennials, as they invade your workforce and you start contemplating the end of your career, understanding how to thoughtfully and strategically assimilate the amazingly unique life force of this group of people to drive the future of your business needs to be the top priority of your planning. Be of good cheer, you can learn all you need to know with just a few internet searches. The imprint of their values is everywhere.
Some of the things that you might want to seriously consider are that your workplace must be "tech-enabled" not just "tech-friendly." Future workspace designs must have all the gizmos and gadgets with which this group grew up. Community should be reflected in your approach to space planning and decision making; millennials value deeply the ability to be heard and listened to through open-sourced collaboration.
You might also want to consider that flexibility is important to this group. Traveling the world and amassing stamps in the passport is more important than putting money in their 401k. They pay more attention to meaningful experiences than they do to amassing things. Of great interest should be, that this group may be the most learned amongst those of us alive today. They are not simply students of academia; they are students of life where marching for a cause and going to music festivals are far more important than a political debate or a divisive conversation.
So this is only a problem if you have a handle on "cultural vitality" and have implemented a robust "employee engagement" program. Thus the reason for this article, because frankly as I advise companies and corporate leaders today and ask them about these two pillars of future business, I often time get the "deer in the headlights" look or they make a calculated guess as to what these terms mean.
Cultural vitality speaks to the deliberate and willful efforts you have made to create your company’s "unseen" advantage. It's that "sticky" factor that keeps your attrition low and your productivity high. It's the remarkable deeds that demonstrate that somehow you have imparted a spirit of ownership within your employees whereby not only do they know they matter; they are the central building block upon which your future profits are built. Cultural Vitality comes in many forms, but be sure, it NEVER comes on accident. It's the product of leaders having a vision for the workplace that goes past efficiency and effectiveness and digs deep into the emotional elements of their employees by being aware of their motivational anchors and ultimately creating a workplace that the employee loves to go.
Employee engagement is not simply building a social calendar or a wellness program. It's identifying clearly what your employees’ interests are and how to build components for participation that are just not the next quality assurance program, HR update, and continuing education. Employee engagement is a carefully crafted group of opportunities that respect the context of your employee’s life instead of the content of your business that you think they need to know. We are fortunate enough to have some of this in place in the largest companies in America that are quite progressive. Yet as I spoke with the head of HR for one of the largest sports brands in the world, even they are sorely lacking for how to develop this.
Be of good cheer, there are a number of things you can do with your company right now to assess your cultural vitality and begin to gather the information necessary to develop your employee engagement and because the Millennial Shift is upon us, you cannot address this soon enough. I have dedicated the last five years of my life and the next 10 to supporting businesses in these two deeply important strategies within your business. Feel free to reach out and together we can have fun solving the problem you didn't know you had.
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