Future proofing your company for the changing face of work

According to PWC, by 2020 Millennials (born 1981-1995) will form 50% of the global workforce and that figure rises to 75% by 2025 if Deloitte are to be believed. Is your company ready to benefit from these fresh faces?

To make the most of this generational swing, you must consider how they’ll fit with your current personnel.

In recognition of loyal service to their employers, the most senior roles in any organization tend to be the reserve of the Baby Boomers (those born at the end of WW2) and Generation X (1965-1980) - with many expecting a job for life.

Those nearing retirement used to dictate office culture, commanding respect, a heavy hitting job title and preferably the corner office. Then Generation X arrived, keen to build on what had gone before they embraced technology and revisited the work/life balance through flexi-time and job sharing. Both groups valued the comfort of a ‘stable job’ with its clearly defined hierarchy and ultimate promise of a pension, but the more cynical X’s favoured leadership rather than management and flatter organizational structures began to emerge.

Now the Millennials also known as Generation Y, are making their presence felt. For them achievements are more important than hours spent at a desk. Their lives are driven by technology and they value the kudos of well known brands.

Redundancy is no threat to the Millennial, who has the connected confidence to make a job rather than take a job if needed. They’re ambitious, but don’t rely on a company to build their career - indeed most studies suggest that Millennials value parenthood and family over occupation. This generation are also more likely to want hybrid roles rather than those with tightly worded job descriptions, as access to information makes it easy for them to self teach. Managers of Generation Y should be supportive and expect to be questioned rather than obeyed.

But it doesn’t stop with the Millennials and in a couple of years graduate recruitment will bring a whole new wave of Generation Z’s (born 1996-2010) into the workplace. This group want experiences rather than things, so the conventional lures of health care and a company car lose their appeal.

Generation Z’s are always on and their mobile lifestyle means office buildings will morph into multiple working environments with companies accepting that continual collaboration and sharing is more efficient than scheduled meetings.

Thankfully, despite their differences, the multi-generational workforce is still human and companies should focus on the following areas to make the most of it.

Communications: Face to face will always have most impact, but telephone and email are also universal. Use the tools that each group trusts but pay close attention to the language and platforms used e.g. formal/informal, abbreviations, text messaging, social media, video, etc.

Leadership: Age doesn’t matter if employees unite under common goals and everyone needs recognition (although how this should be delivered will vary). Flexibility is key. Consider mentoring and accommodate different learning styles to help your personnel reach their full potential.

Benefits: Best packages still tend to be linked to seniority in an organization rather than age, but consider the value of your rewards in employee terms and look for ways to adapt these rather than imposing blanket perks.

Talk to Denholm

We are a search, recruitment and employer brand consultancy that specialises in commercial marketing, sales & digital opportunities. If you'd like to find out more, call us on 0131 554 6191 or email connect@denholmassociates.com.