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Part 1: Millennials and Gen Z
I’m a futurist. I work with organizations to look out into the future, modeling both positive and negative futures. I do this using a process called futurecasting. The inputs and research are a mix of social science, technical research, cultural history, economics, global cultural trends, expert interviews and even a little science fiction. As an applied futurist, I not only construct possible and probable futures, but I also work with organizations to implement actions today to prepare and even shape their tomorrow.
Starting in 2016, organizations began asking me not just about the future of work but more specifically about the future workforce. Who are the employees of the future? How will you find them? How will you retain them? There’s good reason for this. We are experiencing a shift in our labor like we have not seen for decades.
Let’s start with the math:
- More than a third of the current workforce are millennials and in 2016 they became the largest generation in the workforce.
- 10,000 millennials turn 21 every day in the U.S.
- And probably the most important statistic: By the year 2025 millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce
That answers the question: The workforce of the future is millennial and also a little Gen Z. Gen Z is the generation that is entering college today.
Now, if you have read this far you are probably not a millennial because most millennials know this and quiet frankly are getting a little tired of people talking about them like they are not in the room. Right now, they are 1 of every 3 people in the room. Look around…
Millennials and Gen Z are one of the most heavily researched, studied, talked about and honestly complained about generations in history. But what can HR organizations and employers do to prepare? One simple way to get started is to just ask them.
Julia Rose West is an author and futurist that studies millennials and Gen Z. On a recent podcast “Navigating the Noise: Meet your New Employee, Customer, Client and/or Boss” about the next generation of workers, I asked West what organizations should consider when bringing these new employees into the labor force.
Regarding Gen Z, Rose remarked, “We’ve seen a lot of jobs ending in career switching with millennials, but Generation Z is projected to do a whole lot less of this. Partly because they grew up during the recession, and they’re drawn to stability…they would rather take up new roles and challenges with an existing company, than change companies.”
Many HR departments are changing how they recruit and retain new workers. Some are even exploring how they lose their millennial workers and how they can bring them back again. Traditional organizations like manufacturing and warehousing had to think twice about why employees left their organizations for other companies. They are seeing that their next generation workers want to continue to explore new roles and new companies. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to return, especially if there’s an environment that embraces personal growth and change. In fact, they are coming back with more diverse and expansive job experience.
How can HR adapt to millennials and Gen Z? The answer is simple. West points out that these generations, “hold out for fulfilling work. Once they find that work, they’re less likely to leave a company, as long as the company’s mission and work continues to align with their values.”
So, do your company policies and values align? It wouldn’t be a bad idea to hire a millennial or two into your HR department, if you haven’t already, and listen to them.
Now it should be said that these sweeping generalizations about the next generation labor force are not 100% accurate. Individuals have their own traits and desires, but you can’t escape the math. The workforce of the future is changing…are you?
Come see me at ACE to learn more about what machines and millennials are doing to HR. Stay tuned for the my next blog post covering AI and HR.
Are you curious about AI? Check out Achievers’ webinar recording “Engagement: How AI Helps HR to be More Human, Not Less.”