Too often I hear business owners dismiss culture as ‘touchy feely” and having no real business value, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Your culture is your brand and without an aligned workforce, hopefully with a purpose, your business is worth nothing.
In this series of articles, we are delving into elements that influence your culture and in turn your brand and so far, we have demonstrated that living your values is key and the future generations are increasingly going to be looking for companies and organizations that have a purpose as well as a purpose in their own lives.
Today we investigate what the changing demographics look like and other impacts on the workplace.
Millennials will soon be 50% of the workplace, are you ready for the impact?
It is estimated that by 2021 50% of the workforce will be millennials and by 2030 75% and right on their heels are Generation Z (born after 1997). Let’s start by overlaying changes in the workplace with changes in demographic and the make up of businesses today and in the near future.
Back in 1974 when we still were a product centric manufacturing economy, intangible assets made up just 17% of the value of the S&P 500. Fast forward to 2010 and that has risen to 80%. Why has that happened? Well today we are back in the product era but this time the product is more likely to be services and often web driven. Look at the likes or Google, LinkedIn, Zappos and Netflix that are all web-based service companies. If you accept these figures and you also accept that Human Capital is a predominant element of these new age companies then the Millennials are in the driver’s seat.
What do you know about Millennials? We often hear and read that they are impatient, unrealistic, lazy and have an unrealistic expectation around work/life and purposeful work. Why do we think this way? For this I would like to turn to Simon Sinek again. He so clearly outlines the “why” behind what we believe about Millennials and offers some insight into how we need to change. Again, this is a lengthy video (15 minutes) but for me it was a life changer. As an aside you can see there is captions throughout and the offer of a full transcript which is to make the video ADA compliant. Yes, ADA compliant is what I said! Please check with your marketing department on what you need to do to make your marketing material ADA compliant.
What does this mean to the workforce?
According to a recent survey by Rutgers University Millennials will take less money to work for a company with “values like theirs”, so companies with a strong purpose and a “Why” they are in business will benefit. It is important to weave your company values into your recruiting material, interviewing and overall company messaging, Emphasizing the company’s vision and mission to employees on an ongoing basis. Involve them in strategy conversations to make candidates feel they are part of something they can impact.
Tied into this is the trend towards work-life balance issues. To the Millennials this looks more like a life-work balance. They have a very clear vision of what they will and will not do. The typical 9-5 work expectations as a result are being eroded. In a recent survey Microsoft did in Australia of 18-35 year old’s 39% were happy to be contacted by their employer 24/7 BUT in return they expected complete access to the internet during the day to do such things as on-line banking, check Facebook and maybe check up on an event they follow.
In 10 years, the traditional employee evaluation process may be a thing of the past. Millennials want instant feedback and clear goal setting. Not how to get to a destination but what is the destination as they like to plot their own strategy. If you Google this topic there are literally hundreds of references but my favorite reference piece is an article in Harvard Business Review which focuses on less compliance and a return to employee development.
Training. In a recent Arizona State survey over 50% of students said they did not need a physical classroom. With that mindset how will that change training in the workplace. We will see more Gamification, Self-Diagnostic, Interactivity, and Competitive elements
There was more innovation in the last decade (and much of its technology driven) than in the previous century and this is only going to accelerate. The Millennials intuitively know how to multitask and have grown up with technology so who better to lead the charge
So, what does this all mean to you? Well culture took a back seat during the recession and now it is back at the forefront. 2025 may seem a long way ahead but those companies that start understanding and implementing changes in the way they lead, motivate and manage their Human Capital will be the big winners. Human Capital and Technology will drive the economy for the foreseeable future, and it is the Millennials who are the vital cog to leveraging the resultant opportunities that will arise. And all this against a backdrop of decades historically low unemployment- so be warned. As Sir Richard Branson says “Train them well enough to leave but treat them well enough to stay”
A quick footnote on Generation Z. The oldest are now about 21, so they have not had a major impact yet but research by INC magazine suggests that they have an a greater need (8%) than Millennials for work/life balance and although they are first truly digital generation they are still looking a “supportive leadership” and “positive relationships” at work. Forbes research shows that a lot of Gen Z are afraid they will be trapped in a job with no development opportunities and are more likely to start their own business. Lastly according to Inc 75% would prefer a Millennial Manager and given that white collar leaders are working to an older age, could create challenges.
How does this all affect your culture and your brand? Does your recruiting and marketing messaging and materials reflect these changes? What are your ratings on Glassdoor? What are your employees telling their friends? Your culture is paramount and is in fact your internal brand.
Shirlaws advises private enterprise how to grow, fund or exit their business in order to enjoy their life’s work. We help them find the confidence to change, the courage to invest and the freedom to choose their path. They love what they do, and so do we. www.shirlawsgroup.com. Nigel Hartley is a Business Advisor with Shirlaws and can be reached on 707 573 7154 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.