Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
by Britanny Brathwaite
We’ve seen endless editorials on the impending diversification of the workforce as a result of the new generations, and many organisations are facing the influx of these generations either in managerial positions or at entry-level.
Some writings tout the difficulties in managing them, some slating Gen Z’ers as lazy and some as simply trying to navigate and understand the nuances of the “movers and shakers” of this new era.
So, what do we know about these generations? We know they love technology, they are smart, and they are not inclined to stay in one place for a long time.
What has not been equally shared are the variables that can flip the more challenging elements of these generations (myself included) upside down and allow organisations to capitalise on the trends and all the positives they can bring.
Loyalty is Possible
The Deloitte Millennial survey 2018 which included 12,000 Millennials and Generation Z’ers noted that more than 40 per cent of millennials and 60 per cent of Z’ers expect to leave their job within two years.
Contrary to what you may have heard, however, this is not because they desire to job hop, rather, it is because the diversity and flexibility they crave are simply not existed.
In the subsequent 2020 millennial survey executed by Deloitte, while it admitted that it remains to be seen exactly how the pandemic may impact loyalty, almost three-quarters of the more than eighteen thousand survey respondents stated that the pandemic had resulted in their sense of personal responsibility is heightened.
Additionally, their levels of empathy and sympathy towards others had also spiked.
So, what attracts them? Good salaries and a positive culture, but the above-noted promoters keep them. The question employers can therefore ask themselves is whether their processes encourage any of the promoters and if so, are the benefits limited to executive-level employees; For example, flexi-time is great and lots of companies are increasingly introducing “core” hour systems.
However, mention remote work and you often hear “that’s an executive privilege.” Why? Inherently, if your performance systems are built correctly, it should be far easier to track the production and the efficiency of the completion of tasks and wider goals that may be assigned to persons in the two generations.
Of course, there are exceptions to this, particularly where roles are customer-facing, etc.
The central point here is to ensure your processes are allowing a trickle-down of the things which matter to persons in the subject generations if this is a talent you are losing at a faster rate.
They too fear the future – Industry 4.0 and Beyond
Economic Development.Org produced data in 2017 which stated that Generation Z’ers and Millennials surveyed by them, overwhelmingly stated their concern with upskilling quickly enough to satisfy the labour demand which is expected to emerge during the new industrial revolution.
The data emerging from Deloitte’s survey in 2018 supports the above findings, with less than 36 per cent of Millennial respondents stating they believe they have the skills to thrive.
While the pandemic has been all types of awful, there’s been a noticeable level of resilience that has been developed within the demographics surveyed as a result of the same. This augurs well for those who may have previously feared as there is the recognition that tough times can be overcome.
Interestingly, in 2018 the skills respondents were referring to were things like confidence, ethical and interpersonal skills. All of which they think organisations can play a bigger role in instilling and offering opportunities for growth.
While they have been blanketed as technologically savvy, people in these generations are cognisant that a key component of any successful business encompasses having a healthy balance of both tech-savvy and people power.
Therefore, training and development in the areas which can strengthen your Millenial and Gen Z’ers’ skill gaps are critical factors for consideration.
The likelihood of persons being willing to engage in the development of these soft skills is at an all-time high – having been through a pandemic and witnessed what worldwide chaos can do even to the generations who were previously less inclined.
Stop Lumping Them
No, all Millennials are not the same and do not all enjoy the very same things. Research conducted, by Pew Research Centre in the United States shows, they are definitely some skills and similarities which are found in a high percentage of Millennials and Gen z’ers, these include multitasking and having completed tertiary education.
Nonetheless, they are still human beings with likes and dislikes and varying personalities, and they should be managed as such, as far as reasonably practical. Engage with those who prefer to have engagement, find out what they may be personally pursuing; do they even want to be with your organisation? Far too often there is a lot of overthinking which goes into the management of these generations.
Particularly where baby boomers may be the persons deciphering the flood of information being provided by differing managers and supervisors.
They may be witty, enjoy working on their couch, and not take their heads up from their smartphone too often but, they have the ability to transform your organisation – and ready or not, here they come.
* Industry 4.0 introduces what has been called the “smart factory,” in which cyber-physical systems monitor the physical processes of the factory and make decentralised decisions.
The physical systems become the Internet of Things, communicating and cooperating both with each other and with humans in real-time via the wireless web – What Everyone Must know about Industry 4.0 by Bernard Marr.
Brittany Brathwaite is president of the Human Resources Management Association of Barbados (HRMAB), a national policy contributor & a regional consultant.