In Generations At Work, Herman Miller called this a ‘generation-bending’ era. As the overall population ages in industrialised countries, mature workers are staying in employment longer. Yet, at the same time, Millennials will eventually make up the majority of the workforce.
The challenge will be to accommodate age and experience, while catering to Millennial employees’ expectations for Purpose-driven organisations, innovation, leadership roles and entrepreneurial opportunities.
It’s a given that companies will need to retain older workers to keep their businesses going. As the CIPD states, “we are running out of worker’s: current employer plans suggest we will need to fill 13.5 million job vacancies in the next ten years, but only seven million young people will leave school and college” with the right skills to fill the gap.
As Malcolm Gladwell points out in an article for Forbes, 10 Ways Millennials are Creating the Future of Work, Millennials are more about ‘the network’ than ‘the hierarchy’. And a generation weaned on leaderless platforms like Reddit and Twitter will naturally care more about collaboration.
And middle managers who were traditionally the ones standing in between the the c-suite and the worker-bees now facilitate the conversations instead of standing in the way.
Millennials who value a high level of autonomy, expect to have a say in decisions that affect them; something our parents would be mortified by. And to add more to our parents cause for concern, workplaces are being shaped by new visions of leadership, which means fewer middle managers and more empowered employees.
These new working structures will naturally build more flexibility in the ways we all work. They mirror the development of the ‘sharing economy’, creating new opportunities for ‘shared employment’, taking part-time working and job sharing to the next level.
There’s never been a more important time to rethink how you hire and reinvent your career; because where, when and how you work is up for grabs.