We are rapidly approaching the close of another year. It seems like every year goes a little faster and becomes a little more complex. I hope this year is ending the way you planned and hoped it would when you were looking ahead this time last year.
One of the biggest challenges I am hearing from my clients and colleagues is the challenge they are facing in managing and leading a multi-generational workforce. The level of noise related to this challenge is interesting. As leaders and managers, we have always managed people of different ages. The early stage millennials have been in the workforce for over ten years now and we are starting to see the next generation (Gen Z) enter the workforce as well so the reality is that the workforce is becoming younger overall much as it did when the wave of baby boomers entered quite a few years ago.?There is no doubt that the generation that is beginning to dominate the workforce now has expectations of what the workplace should be like and they also bring stronger educations and technology skills than any generation in the past.
What is the real challenge we are facing relative to the changing needs and demands of the current workforce? How much has human behavior really changed in the past few years. Are companies that have figured out how to create and maintain a culture that generates strong engagement from their workforce having as big a challenge managing and leading this influx of young highly educated people as all the noise would make it seem? A while back I interviewed leaders of companies that had been designated Best Places to Work. Even though these companies are dealing with the same workforce as their competitors they didn?t seem to be having the challenges we keep reading about in a wide range of publications. All these companies learned long ago what it takes to have an engaged high performing workforce regardless of the generational differences. They recognize that there may be differences in the way different generations see the workplace but that there are more commonalities than differences. They recognize that they need to cover all the basics around excellent management and leadership and leave room at the edges to be able to deal with the generational behavioral differences in a manner that is not disruptive to the organization.
I have the privilege of serving as an Executive in Residence in the College of Business Administration at California State University San Marcos. In this role I see and meet with many Juniors and Seniors who are in the Millennial and Gen Z age group. I find these young men and women to be very excited about what they can offer to employers when they complete their degrees. I also find that they have expectations of their future employers as well. The balance of what they say they want to contribute and what they say they want in return is not unreasonable. When they are describing what they want from their future employers, I know that those employers who have a culture that generates engagement have what these new generation future employees want. As I mentioned earlier the core processes, procedures and behaviors that are in place at companies that have created a culture that fosters high levels of engagement for their current workforce will have limited challenges with this new workforce.
I believe that all the noise we are hearing about the challenges of dealing with a multi-generational workforce is prevalent because there are so many organizations that have not spent the necessary time thinking about how they can create and maintain a culture that fosters a highly engaged workforce. There may be too many organizations that proclaim that their people are their biggest asset while failing to invest in them and instead seeing them as their biggest expense and therefore something to control and reduce. Imagine the positive impact on every metric including revenue, profit, client/customer satisfaction, employee retention, safety and all the other things we all measure by improving the discretionary contribution of every employee by just a small amount.
I wrote a book a few years ago called From OK to Excellence with a focus on workforce engagement and what it takes. My involvement with clients, my research of Best Places to Work and my involvement with young people at Cal State San Marcos leads me to believe that there is still a great deal of work to do in many organizations to create a culture of engagement. I also believe that the investment companies need to make to support and maintain a high performing workforce has a 10x ROI in addition to being the right thing to do.
I would enjoy working with you or any of your colleagues to help you make the changes necessary to achieve that 10x ROI and at the same time put more discretionary time back in your life.
I hope your 2018 is finishing above your original expectations and that 2019 will be even better!