Fail Forward with Millennials and Generation Z

Businesses should learn from their Millennial experience, start a conversation and build trust with the Generation Z demographic now. Otherwise, they risk becoming irrelevant in the future.

There is a famous quote by Benjamin Franklin which states, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Like in life, there are very few certainties in business. However, the death part of Mr Franklin’s equation reminds us that it is absolutely certain that our workforces will age.

We should all know by now that “Millennials” have recently surpassed Gen X as the largest population in the workforce. There have been some excellent articles and sources of information on how to adapt human capital strategies to cater for the millennial generation. However, I believe that a few publications may have missed some essential points.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s fifth annual Millennial Survey stated that “Millennials, in general, express little loyalty to their current employers and many are planning near-term exits”.  Deloitte sums this up as a “remarkable absence of allegiance”.

No, sorry, this is not an absence of allegiance. It is just common sense. Making out that millennials are to blame for this trend ignores the reality that many companies have been caught off guard with the rise of the Millennial generation. They are still scrambling to play catch up regarding the issues that matter to them. Deloitte themselves actually outline these as being; Lack of leadership-skill development, feelings of being overlooked, issues around work/life balance, the desire for flexibility and a conflict of values.

It is unrealistic to think that talent will remain static if they do not feel there is a bright future ahead of them. So it is little surprise that most Millennials are looking to make a move within the next two years.

Rather than hide behind a pretence of Millennial disloyalty, companies should admit (even if only to themselves) that they got it wrong. Rather than cry over spilt milk, they should make preparations for the next storm on the horizon – Generation Z. This generation is often defined as those born after 1998.

Yes, Generation Z are coming. That is for certain. What is not for certain, is exactly what Gen Z will look like in terms of their habits, needs and wants. Sure we can guess, but why do that? Start that conversation now.

Author: Richard Hanson

Richard Hanson is CEO and Co-Founder of Jobable, Asia's data-driven career platform, based in Hong Kong. Recognised by Asiamoney Magazine as one of the top headhunters in the Asia-ex Japan region, Richard is a well-known figure within the HR Technology space in Asia, making regular appearances at industry round tables and entrepreneurship events.

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