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TIPS FOR ATTRACTING AND RETAINING THE NEW GENERATION OF LEADERS



As the Baby Boomer generation approaches retirement, it is particularly important to institute hiring practices and workplace policies that attract and integrate the younger generations. Many have talked about how Generation X and Millennials always seem ready to leave one company and move onto something better as soon as there is a new opportunity. Forbes says “49 percent of millennials would quit their job within the next two years”. While it is true that people in the younger generations will usually not stay with a job if they are unhappy (unlike stability-focused Baby Boomers), this does not mean they aren’t serious or loyal. This generation wants the most money in the quickest and easiest way. This means that if you want to keep the best and brightest leaders in your organization, you need to offer them an environment that is geared to their wants and needs. Meeting their needs to get the best to stay consists of several different ways such as, recognizing their efforts and the hard work they’ve put in, empowering their decision making, challenging and rewarding their efforts.
Historically, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists have appreciated more structure, while the younger generations tend to come equipped with a more entrepreneurial, self-motivated skill set. Baby Boomers are seeing first hand proof on different social media platforms showing that they’re capable of traveling while working and generating revenue at the same time. Additionally, while older generations may have experienced a predominantly formal work environment, contemporary work environments are transitioning into more relaxed and less hierarchical. These new work environments have interactive workspaces, open floor plans, communal environments, and remote working opportunities.
Quite a few Fortune 500 companies have changed the way they work to meet the needs and values of these new generations (Hoffman et al., 2014) who are less likely to accept rigid hierarchical structures and more vocal in their desire for an environment that makes them feel valued, even though they may not be there forever.
Here are some examples:
A major United States chemical company has eliminated its corporate ladder approach to management. This means there’s no boss, and no top and bottom in the chain of command. Instead, authority is passed around through team leaders, so everyone in the company has a sense of equality and involvement.
A large United States accounting firm gives 4 weeks of vacation to every new hire (most U.S. companies offer only 2 weeks). This firm also offers new parents classes on how to reduce their working hours to spend more time with their families.
A software company in Silicon Valley has no set office hours. Staff come in and work when they choose. Everyone gets paid time off every month to do volunteer work, and he or she receives a 6-week sabbatical every 4 years.
These are all profitable, highly productive companies with low staff turnover. They have simply made new rules in accordance with the lifestyles and values of their employees, and have reaped a great deal of success as a result.
New Generational Leadership
In the workplace today, there are 5 generations in the mix-Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation. Generation X and Millennials are unlikely to lead in the same way Boomers did. Though the Boomers are the most economically influential, they grew up in WW1 through the mid 60’s meaning they had little to nothing. These Baby Boomers were in the midst of the technological era compared to generations today where they adopt different technological features and advances is the norm. Millennials are relying on digital communication while the Baby Boomers are used to more face-to-face communication.
Millennials prioritize job flexibility while job stability is the leading factor for Gen Z. They encourage collaboration, they want to understand their peers and other people’s perspectives, and they greatly value teamwork and open communication. They will spend more time building relationships with their teams than their predecessors did. Because they value their family time, they will also give their staff enough time for their personal lives outside of work. As a result, corporate culture might become less rigid than it is currently, offering more flexibility and a sense of fun.
The incoming generations, including Millennials, value action. Though they are known as the “job-hopping generation”, they work more efficiently and productively to earn time off. They expect their team to work hard as well, but they also know when it is time to leave the office and go play. One of the ways in which they gain this efficiency is by using technology. Since they’re known as “job-hoppers”, attracting Millennials and Gen Z is a significant factor in the hiring of these generations.
Although there are technically savvy people in every generational category, you may need to remind some new generation employees that other members of their team need more training and support around technology than they themselves might. You may also need to remind some leaders from older generations to be apprised of changes in technology and workplace practices so that they can stay abreast of innovations.
As a leader that effectively leverages diversity and inclusion strategies can be integral in helping to leverage generational differences in the workplace. By encouraging intergenerational mentorship (e.g., Baby Boomers can pass on institutional knowledge and well-earned wisdom to their millennial colleagues, while the latter can infuse the workplace with a sensibility that is focused on the efficient use of technology and transparent, non-hierarchical communication), you can better identify gaps in knowledge and ensure that processes and resources that will enable employees to share their expertise are in place.
VisionSpot Consulting CEO, Dr.Valerie D. W. James had a few ideas and information to share about her leadership and experiences working in the multi-generational workforce.
Dr. James worked in corporate America for 20 plus years before starting VisionSpot. With years of experience, here are a few things she had to say: In the workplace, there needs to be diversity of thought, experiences and people. The different levels of drive and motivation between the new talent of the organization and the seasoned workers, who had also witnessed and experienced the evolution of the company. More of the seasoned workers held a different level of respect and knowledge of the company compared to the younger, more new employees. Both the seasoned workers and the new talent add so much wisdom to the business as well as can carry on the legacy of the organization.
The Gen Z and Millennials brought a sense of new perspective on ways to get work accomplished, innovation to the company and a new energy into the workplace. Having this new and young aspect in the company allows for the organization not to become stagnant. This also leads to creativity and out of the box thinking. Advice Dr. James would give someone entering the multi-generational workplace would be to have an open mind in valuing and leveraging differences. Another key aspect was to really engage and leverage into knowing your teammate.
Once you know your teammates, you will learn what their strengths and weaknesses are, so you can collaborate and accomplish lots more, while still bringing to life what the real dynamic of teamwork is. Dr. James added that personally and intentionally knowing your employees and co-workers strengths and weaknesses can add a whole new level of value to the business.
Working in a multi-generational workplace can have its challenges, but it also brings great benefits and opportunities. To date, there are 5 generations surrounding you at work, talk about incredible! Successful businesses and leaders have learned to adapt to the differences of the workplace, and took charge on how to manage and co-work alongside each other.
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