By Jodie Swee
As an expert on generational differences and how to overcome them, I am fascinated and a little dismayed at a trend I am currently witnessing in the workforce conversation. For years we here at XYZ University have been getting inquiries about how to “deal” with Millennials, but now organizations are turning their attention to Gen Z.
Don’t get me wrong, we should extend our attention to this upcoming generation as the oldest of them turned 22 this year and are entering the workforce. However, what I am witnessing is a little different and will have a negative impact if we don’t nip it in the bud. Organizations are starting to turn their focus AWAY from Millennials and giving it solely to Gen Z.
It’s Not a Lost Cause
On one hand, I get it. For so many, this has been a maddening time. Baby Boomers and Millennials speak different languages and are struggling to understand each other as the baton of leadership is passed, and Gen X doesn’t want to be the translator because they are tired of being lost in the shuffle. It would be much easier to just chuck it all up as a lost cause and hope to have better results with the next generation. But we need to pause and check that thinking at the door because Millennials are projected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. Millennials are going to be the majority in the workforce for a very long time.
We are living in a truly wonderful and rich time in history when every generation has something valuable to teach and learn. Due in large part to technology, the world is being shaped by many different voices and experiences. It requires an organization to be able to adapt and change as the situation calls for it. This will require the input of all generations. It’s like one giant through-the-decades music trivia game with high stakes. If your whole team just knows Beatles songs, and you’re being asked to provide the answer to a Justin Bieber song, you’re going to lose. But if you have put together a team that has insight and knowledge that covers the decades, you are going to win. And we want to win, right?
Lean in If You Want to Win
It’s time to lean into the generational conversation with the intent of learning and understanding. If you are a Boomer or Xer, be intentional about having conversations with Millennials. Find out what makes them tick. Don’t dismiss them because they have had a different life experience than you that has created different work values and expectations.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore them. Millennials are here to stay, and they will have an impact with or without your help.