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Embrace, Don't Bridge!

Recently, I joined a group of business leaders at a talk hosted by a renowned business leader - a question lingering in the room was how to bridge the gap between Millennials (the stereotypical “Young Ones”) and Baby Boomers (the clichéd “Experienced Ones”).

According to an article by Deloitte [1], A New Understanding of Millennials, the US Millennials had inched past the other generations to corner the largest share of the labour market in 2015 already.

Like any organisation faced with diversity challenges this is just another difference ,a generational one, that needs to be recognised and accommodated for in a business, and its team, to reach its true potential. In the 2018 Thomson Reuters Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Index, they highlight global companies that are steering the way for diversity and inclusion into their company strategy. Businesses are recognising the benefits of investing in diverse, inclusive companies.

Bridging the gap between Millennials and Baby Boomers in the workplace can be an enormous task for any company— but not an unbeatable one by any means. In a blog written about the strengths and weaknesses of the different generations [2] we have similarly found the following characteristics in these two generational groups, albeit stereotypical:

The Baby Boomers are characteristically workaholics, committed to their roles and generally team players. On the flip side they are less tech-savvy, lean towards structure and discipline and have a need for recognition to motivate them.

Millennials are considered independent workers more concerned with social responsibility and ethics, with fluidity of process a preferred method of work. They too have weaknesses where independence can err on the side of not working in a team.

They are equally ambitious and impatient when it comes to career growth. We agree with the Deloitte[3] findings that Instead of believing that Millennials are fundamentally harder to recruit, engage, and retain than other generations, organisations can leverage a more sophisticated understanding of Millennials to improve performance.

A team member of ours, Paton, puts it aptly “who cares about the Millennials, we’re old now, it’s all about Gen Z”. The digital addicts, the generation after the very spoken about Millennials. Hopefully we’re not being too slow that we are forgetting to understand the new comers and how they will fundamentally shape the working world moving forward.

Some of the tools we utilise to empower diversity and differences are:

1. Encouraging purpose-led organisations

2. Innovation through ways of work: People see things differently, think differently and do things differently. Creatively embracing this is where the magic is.

3. Effective Communication: Transparent communication, and the utilisation of tools to enable this, leads to improved collaboration and learning. Crossing generational boundaries where leadership can inform, inspire, persuade and influence.

4. Increased Adaptability and understanding different consumers taking customer centricity to the next level.

5. Easier Recruitment and Retention. Enough said.

6. Improved efficiency through embracing a broad spectrum of expertise and experience.

It is not always about dealing with a perceived problem, because things change, but rather starting in the right place. In our experience this start is having a purpose led organisation, ensuring that purpose drives the overall business goals.

This usually translates well into individuals’ goals, in essence allowing everyone to know “why” they are participating and adding value to the organisations long term strategy. If you sense and adapt according to your purpose as an organisation, while allowing for autonomous teams and transparency, an organisation should be strong enough to attract, retain and leverage any generation.

Put the power in the people with the most talent, the people you have hired, and let them shape what will make them live fulfilled careers. Ask your team what they need to win and you’ll be property talent focused and ready to embrace any gap.





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