Boomers are walking out the corporate door faster than they once poured into a Stones concert. Most companies will see a fifth of their workforce retiring right about now.
The implications are stunning. Intellectual capital embodied in ‘lifers’ will be trotting off to the golf course, the garden or the lifelong dream of breeding cavalier spaniels.
Wayne’s gone, driver in hand. Every back-story and reinvention in purchasing since 1975 is walking out with him. Or Allison. She’s off to Tampa Bay. She created systems for parking permits to space plans. Wayne and Allison may be pterodactyls but they know how things run and they’re running them – for now.
Technology is shrinking job markets. As will some boomers who’ll work till they drop. But this isn’t going to be an empty spaceship.
Who’s taking over? Millennials. A collective groan can be heard from the oldsters, the most mature cohort left standing. Oh those lazy sacks of you-know-what, unreliable, unproductive and entitled. Disdainful and arrogant. Perennially adolescent.
Consider their back-story. Dropped at classes by parents who worked evenings and weekends, Mum or Dad ducked into the hall to take calls at school recitals. Then when the biggest thing trending was downsizing, they were sacked. Often at mid to late career their parents shuffled in the back door, cardboard boxes aloft crammed with stinky shoes, pictures of their Millennial baby selves and a That was easy! button.
What worldview of corporations do Millennials have? Their parents’ sacrifices were rewarded by career bombs. Domestic shrapnel flew. And not so coincidentally, they’re the offspring of the most divorced generation ever.
Millennials are wicked smart and aren’t buying-in to back-in-the-day models. You won’t attract them with a signing bonus, nor will they lie in front of a virtual corporate truck and take one for the team.
They want freedom to work from no fixed address, to walk away after a reasonable shift. They don’t care if they’re messaged 40 times a minute they stop. Where they work isn’t important. Smartphones body-glued, they submitted university papers from a coffee shop and the front steps of their hovel (they can’t afford overpriced housing – well housing at all – hence an abundance of them living in their parents basements).
7 Absolutes for Attracting (& Retaining) Millennials
1. Flexibility – they’re a wee bit feral and want to range, which may mean standing or moving around with a laptop rather than being tethered in a cube farm. On training, which really motivates them, they’d prefer an interactive online course to a 3-day workshop delivered by a talking head.
Take a peek at this ‘cube-less’ office, where all the real estate given is a locker – really.
2. Job Stability – the risks and costs of contract work are not lost on them – they LIVE them. Juggling 3 gigs, no paid holidays, variable hours and income insecurity are but a part of the price for contract work. So give them a status that allows predictable income, holidays and some assurance that their job will exist in a year.
3. Creativity – instead of sending them downstream of opportunity as jobs die off, create a platform for disruptive brainstorming. Encourage innovation. Let them propose projects then implement – and that’ll create their jobs. Imagine 6 people around a table working in a flat configuration (no Grand Poobah), dreaming up development that requires humans. Which ties in nicely with my next point…
4. Optimal Engagement – will get optimal results. Flat organizations –Tesla, Google, Microsoft – allow employees’ creativity to flourish, encourage innovation of what was previously unimaginable (hospital air quality inside vehicles, self-driving cars, Skype translators). I mean these advances are stunning!
5. Stimulating Tasks – the upside of the technology takeover is eliminating boring tasks. This dovetails brilliantly with sparking a Millennials interest. Repetitive, senseless work results in boredom burnout and they’ll take flight.
6. Health at all levels – Millennials are amongst the most anxiety-ridden generation ever (given the conditions they’ve inherited not so startling). And they’re not stigmatized about sharing their pain. So offer support. Mindful meditation, group play that encourages movement. Give them balanced work schedules of 4 or 5 days a week. ‘Perma-work’ is less productive than working fewer hours, no matter how counter-intuitive it seems. Stanford proved it and check out how the the Finns have created a firm that’s doing what works, not what’s always been done.
7. Commitment to Purpose – when Elon Musk takes the stage he doesn’t sell cars, he sells ideas. His lofty concept? We can change the world with consumers subscribing to sleek electric vehicles and off-grid homes. The corporate market underestimated the power of his message. He got unprecedented global buy-in by using the Steve Jobs technique; he grabbed a mike, a stage and inspired people. He sold more cars in an hour or two than most dealer networks sell in a year.
Consider the upside of his business model. Limited offices and dealerships, virtual meetings, clusters of like-minded Millenials online getting things done fast. Unlike other auto manufacturers he doesn’t have an unwieldy network of ‘stores’ littered across continents.
What does the traditional business model cost? What does the Tesla business model cost? Tesla’s is a Millennial one. So far out of the box they didn’t build one.