Preparing your business for the next generation of workers has been a hot topic for some time now. I have been fortunate to lead focus groups, firm retreats and video production on this topic and have worked with some of the foremost “Generationalists” in the country trying to integrate vastly different value systems and mind-sets within the workplace.
One thing that always strikes me when my work takes me to the generational topic is how little respect and tolerance the two older generations have for the young staff who they are hiring into their companies. I am 44 years old, and a Gen-Xer to the core; however, my job often requires me to recruit and interact with students getting ready to enter the work force. For years I have found myself consistently amazed by what we now call the Millennial, or Gen-Y. These people are smart, very smart! They have fresh ideas and are very entrepreneurial. They are balanced, and want to continue to have that in all aspects of their lives. This generation is not held back by what the world used to be like prior to the computer-driven technological explosion of the 1990’s. They don’t know the world without internet and instant communication. Unfortunately, it seems that the Millennials are too often criticized for simply being who they are; in other words, they are a product of a society that is vastly different than anything the older generations could have imagined in their formative years.
Why are we not embracing them for all of the amazing things that they bring to the workplace? Why are we trying to hold back our future with a mind-set and business culture that was created 50 years ago? We need to get over ourselves and understand that the Millennials are the future. Once we achieve this, we can start building our business model around finding great, young talent to take our companies forward. Ignoring this change is a recipe for disaster. The younger generations represent change and they are not going anywhere (except maybe away from your company). What are you willing to do and how are you willing to change in order to make your company a desired destination for our future?
HR professionals need to educate themselves on what Millennials value and then see how those values can help their company to grow. Hiring the right young staff and then putting them in situations designed to help them succeed is a much better model than forcing young staff into an older, outdated business model that they don’t understand or agree with. We need to take a hard look at our policy manuals and realize that they are probably out of date and not necessarily in tune with how people think and what people value these days. We need to educate all of our people on the differences among us so that we understand that we all have ways to contribute if we are allowed to do so.
So, HR, are you ready to change your recruiting strategy? Your training and development practices? Your compensation and benefits programs and your performance management systems? You had better be, because the next generation is here to stay and the old rules just don’t work for them. I’d love to continue this conversation with you – send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.