With Millennials expected to comprise at least half of the workforce by 2020, and Gen Z becoming an ever-larger percentage of employees every year, the key to ensuring inter-generational corporate harmony is education. Senior executives, who mostly comprise the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers and Gen X, must firmly grasp that there are now more of them than there are of us. So, it will not work for a successful business today—much less in the future—to dig in its heels over outdated corporate ways.
Misunderstanding Millennial and Gen Z workers and their motivations can be disastrous for today's employers. We are now living in the best economy of our lifetimes, making it easier than ever for younger workers—further aided by our instantaneous digital world—to change jobs or become entrepreneurs. Simply put, these generations do not need corporate America as much as corporate America needs them.
Cross-generational corporate understanding is so crucial that many esteemed business schools, like UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, are now offering courses designed entirely around demystifying Millennials and Gen Z in the workplace. Here comes the shameless plug… utilizing expert consultants like JDMA is also vital in helping busy executives navigate the most important potential problem areas for each company's particular cross-generational workplace scenario.
Successful businesses that are good at attracting and retaining talented young employees respect the needs of these younger workers. They listen to them and make changes based on their input. This obviously means that older executives have to make adjustments to traditional business practices in order to accommodate new attitudes, opinions and lifestyles.
I have talked with many business leaders who dig in their heels and say, “My way or the highway.” In other words, they are not willing to adjust their business practices enough to make room for these young adult workers. As a member of Gen X (i.e., one of the older generations), I say to them, “Change or die.” Businesses that do not adjust to Millennial and Gen Z predilections will become irrelevant and go extinct, because, as I said up top... there are more of them than there are of us!