Experts in industrial sectors, experts in educational systems, and even experts in social and psychology disciplines likely have as much disagreement as they do agreement about the paths necessary to bridge gaps and manage talent across all five workforce generations. Some believe there are not any problems, some believe the problems can’t be solved, and still others believe that the problems are nothing new often stating that we’ve always had generational differences and we should just forget all this generational talk and get back to [real] business.
Many business sectors report problems with attracting and retaining the most recent generations in our workforce. Culturally, organizations often struggle with adapting their environments to become attractive for millennials and generation Z (Gen 9/11, iGen). One thing is certain, an organization without a strong representation of the most recent workforce generations is an organization without a future.
Working across the generations or creating an atmosphere of generational neutrality is definitely not a one size fits all approach, but it does create a strategic opportunity. Keep in mind that being on the front side of the bell curve is where opportunity has the biggest strategic advantage. Many organizations are not taking a strategic approach for onboarding the most recent generations, and if your organization chooses to do so, you’ll position yourself for a strong competitive advantage.
Where to Start
Organizations will have to think more strategically. Often somewhat unconsciously, organizations operate by “fighting fires” through tried and true tactical approaches instead of strategy. Every strategy needs tactics but every tactic may not be strategic. Make sure your organization is investing in a strategic approach to onboard and fully utilize the most recent generations.
Here are three foundation building principles for millennial and gen Z strategy:
Build a strategic approach that incorporates unleashing tacit knowledge. Think succession, mentors, and how to leverage new age ideas with old school methods.
Illustrate pathways for future opportunities. The most recent generations want to understand how their contribution fits and how they can make a difference. Give them a sense of purpose.
Build flexibility into your systems. Most emerging workers believe that there is more than one way to achieve the goal. In contrast, many of the earlier generations believe strongly in the tried and true methods. Flexible approaches are desirable for more than just engaging across the generations, they also allow organizations to quickly adapt to changing circumstances or markets.
Regardless of how you build it, organizations that adopt a culture that is farsighted and encouraging will win out over those who can’t effectively illustrate their value or purpose.
Are you building a competitive advantage?
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker, and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at DennisEGilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.