People born in the decades around this millennium have seen the world through advanced technological tools such as broadband, smartphones, laptops, etc. Social media has been the norm from the time they were breastfed.
As this generation grows up, they will make up the new generation workforce. The older generation of workforce is entering into retirement. In the decade beginning with 2020, the majority of the workforce will be made up of Millennials. Therefore this decade will be an extraordinary era for business and society. The joint effects of globalisation, technological innovations, socio political changes and changes in demography of workforce will be reflected in the operation of businesses in the future.
By 2020, the workforce will be highly ICT enabled. That will lead to greater connectivity between people, reduced time spent in accessing relevant information since it will be available at their fingertips will leads to overcome country borders and will make the world becoming a much smaller place. This means that people from across the globe will be able to connect as never before. With this, the new generation workforce is offered unprecedented opportunities for creativity and entrepreneurism.
The daily lifestyles, thinking patterns, behaviour, learning, information searching, and social networking of the new generation workforce are surrounded by technological applications. Their knowledge of new technologies will be high and work attitudes would be different. They would like to work in parallel process and multitasking environment. Therefore the approach they take towards tasks assigned to them would also be different when compared to the older generation workforce. When selecting a place of employment, they would view the workplace through different angles.
Furthermore, their career aspirations and expectations would be quite different and standards would be high. They would probably prefer to work in flat organisational models as opposed to the pyramid type, and they would, in effect prefer task oriented, cross functional teamwork environment. They would also expect prompt feedback on their performance form the employer.
Personal learning and self-development would be top priorities rather than cash benefits when selecting an employer. Their ambition and desires would keep them learning continuously and thus, they will be able to quickly step up the organisational ladder. If their expectations are not met by the employer, they would most often move away without much consideration. These Millennials will most definitely prefer to work for globalised companies that offer better future prospects and willing be to work from home for assigned tasks.
Younger workers are defined by their optimism and energy. They would mostly value opportunity and chance to work with strong coaches, mentors and to engage, interact and learn from senior managers. They could achieve anything with the right focus and guidance. However, it is possible that they will be easily disappointed and so the employer should be able to meet and manage their expectations, which will also involve identifying and rewarding them.
Social networking opens up job opportunities for skilled new generation workforce on the worldwide job market, and this is becoming increasingly powerful. This will make a trend that they will not be avoided going to competitors or even starting their own businesses. Attracting and keeping younger workers with required talent would be one of the biggest challenges for an organisation in the 2020s.The new generation workforce churn may be inevitable. Therefore incorporating appropriate HR strategies becomes very important in planning the future business.
Present organisational models are often pyramid type structures with robust, partially automated or totally manual processes and the environment is very inflexible in terms of dealing with its stakeholders. So to create organisations of the future, it is important to address those issues in advance to accommodate the new generation workforce.
The present organisational model and its senior managers prefer face-to-face communications as opposed to electronic communications which would preferred by new generation workforce. So then the future workspace will be dramatically changed due to the influence of new generation workforce. Therefore reshaping the workspace is a new task for an organisation which will lead to strategically accommodate the new generation workforce.
Further it would expect that the entire concept of workplace will need to be flexible. Therefore the skill sets required would be more EQ than IQ since the new generation will have more IQ. The challenge is to identify or enhance the EQ capabilities amongst the new generation workforce so that it will suit the unique business environment.
Furthermore, the new generation workforce will expect the employer to provide them with access to state-of-the art technology, as well as the ability to use workplace technology alongside their job. Allowing them to use their own technology to carry out social networking even while at the workplace will make them more productive.
In such a context, it becomes important for IT policy makers of organisations to initiate appropriate processes to ensure that employees are provided with such access. For example, offering smartphones as an employee benefit and actively encouraging business-focused use of social networking at work. So now it is the time to think about defining long range strategies and how to manage the new generation workforce in the 2020s.
(The writer is the Deputy General Manager of Project Portfolio Management, Sri Lanka
‘The Deal in 2020’ seen on 30 September 2012 on www.theworkfoundation.com
‘Millennials at work’ seen on 30 September 2012 on www.pcw.co/gx/en/managing/
‘Transitioning to workforce 2020’ seen on 30 September 2012 on www.cisco.com/web/learning/