When it Comes to the Workplace, What’s Changed for Our Children?

I appreciate the fact there are many early adopters and business leaders well versed in the emerging trends, but what is interesting is the many very current articles looking at several business trends for 2020. Worth discussing is the magnitude of these trends, and in particular, the impact on today’s newbies and relatively early stage workers as they enter and navigate their new work environments.

Many of us have millennial and post-millennial children about to enter, or have entered, the workforce and it is a very different world from the one we know and relate to.

Our evolving work and corporate environments continue to react to global and local realities, creating a very different work world with some game changing outcomes.

As a traditional worker we sought stability, career growth, and hopefully had a good life-work balance. As a corporate entity it’s shareholder value creation, profitability, customer satisfaction. The now prevailing operational strategies initially at odds are coalescing into new realities for both the worker and the business.

Take the current acceptance of outsourcing, lean focused management and workforce, combined with the need for businesses to be fast paced and quick to adopt new strategies dealing with challenges such as mergers and acquisitions. These environments force incompatibility with the traditional worker model. More often corporations need to adjust their workforce much quicker. Traditional promotions from within and company sponsored training for advancement are not as available as they once were.

Past prognostications suggested the worker will have more leisure time, become self-managing, be more fulfilled and frankly less subservient to management. As this unfolds, workers must now accept that they will have many changes in how and where they work. They now need to take responsibility for their own development much more than in the past.

Our workforce of the future, the millennials and post-millennials are not as apprehensive about security or have accepted the reality and adjusted to the independence of being a free agent. Another aspect of today’s world is the workforce can be completely virtual, taking advantage of remote computing capabilities and low cost video conferencing and collaboration. This has resulted in businesses being able to quickly launch project work or access required skills easily. This reality also allows businesses a greater field of access to the best talent available.

To look at some of the very real disruptive technologies that continue to alter the traditional workforce, such as robotics, would be a much deeper dive than this space will allow. A lot has happened since the auto industry introduced robots as early as 1961 and programmable ones in 1968.

The reality is, the near future will have little or no workers in the McDonald’s you frequent. Walmart’s future plans are to fully automate its stores as the large traditional retail behemoths compete against Amazon.

It’s important to look at the dynamics of how the workers and the employers are evolving to address this fluid environment. It has become very challenging for new entrants to the workforce to gain the necessary experience. Organizations have greater flexibility to ramp up or down (scale their business) to address their resource needs. This new reality has presented the millennium/post-millenium worker with some significant hurdles. The sought after work-life balance flexibility and ability to work remotely has come at a cost. That being said, they face the need to quickly adapt to the ever-evolving workplace realities as they compete with Generation X’ers for jobs as well promotional opportunities.

More educated, or not-the-newer-workers, on average earn less and have a higher unemployment rate than past peer groups. The often heard remark that our kids will never leave home validated because they can’t afford to. (https://bestworkinc.com/10-serious-problems-millennials-face/)

Today’s college degrees often are not aligned to the workforce needs which results in work unrelated to the education achieved. The good news that the workforce is better educated is offset by the laws of supply and demand. With fewer entry level jobs and more specialization demanded, there is more than a ripple effect. This is spotlighted by the unemployment figures for millennials and post-millennials.

There are many articles written on how to manage this new work force and understanding how they perceive their work and careers, as well as strategies on how to retain them. Current stats suggest the average time millennials spend on the current job is around two years. Compare this to their parents that averaged in the five to seven year range. All good insights, but what about these new workers and their side of the equation?

Given this backdrop, what then can we pass along by way of advice to make the road less rocky? Suggesting that “you use your common sense” has become an invisible platitude. Let me use an example, the one everyone knows. Facebook and posting pictures or personal expressions or viewpoints on any number of topics without regard for future ramifications. This continues to have significant impact on careers, personal relationships and at the extreme, legal entanglement.

Some of the following is for some a reminder and for others perhaps an ah-ha moment.

The very basic, your resume; for the most part it will be initially scrutinized by software looking for key words. Yes it will still need to be well written and have relevant bullet points showing your expertise or area of applicable studies. It should be targeted to either the role itself or how you are willing to learn and grow.

Take the time to research the company and prepare in advance for an interview. What is the apparent company work culture, including expected or implied dress code? Sure, we all want to express our individuality but not at the expense of receiving an otherwise great job opportunity.

As a millennial and post-millennial you are very adept at using social media. Use it to explore people working at the company, any online posts from current or past employees, news articles and corporate communications online.

Show willingness and enthusiasm and understand you may need to start at the bottom. This often applies when making a career course change.

Once successful in landing that career job make sure to understand the value of building and maintaining your professional relationships. Why? A lot of jobs never get posted on a job board and are a result of well-developed professional relationships. Who you know will continue to be a key factor.

It’s a new world for us as parents and the new workers we care so much about.

Gord Forbes
Managing Principal

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