When I have mentioned this to people recently they get this dazed look about them – as if they want to say “labour shortage… really, I think we have a job shortage”. We all know it is a tough employment market out there but companies are hiring and things are very slowly improving. This is all about to radically change in the next few years. Let me explain.
In essence the labour shortage is the result of an abnormally large number of baby boomers in the workforce who will be retiring within the same timeframe, from now until the 2020’s. The effect of this massive amount of people leaving the workforce is that there will only be one person available to replace every two that leave.
My view is that companies really aren’t paying much attention to this – there are other more pressing things to worry about now. The issue we are going to face is twofold;
1. How can companies keep properly staffed in times of labour shortages, and
2. How do companies manage this new generation of employee we see, the Gen Y or millennial employees?
As HR consultants we hear managers saying: what has worked in the past doesn’t work for this new generation; the work ethic just isn’t there; how do you get them to care about the company and they don’t like feedback”. Of course there are some stereo type comments in there, BUT, if companies don’t take the time to figure this out, they will someday be scratching their collective heads wondering just what happened to them and their companies.
What is 100% true is that generational differences do exist, however, the newer generation employees are certainly of the same species and have many of the same needs that are not being met by many employers past and present. The thing that is the same anywhere and in any company in any country is that work has to have meaning to the employee. With the availability of incredible amounts of information on the internet, younger generations want to know the ‘why’ behind things, much more than previous generations. If this need is not met, they are much more likely to leave their employer than previous generations. Red flag!
This new generation wants the opportunity to grow and develop on the job, they want to know their manager cares about them as a person, not just an employee, they want to be treated with respect, they want to be able to express their opinions and they want to feel like they are making a difference at work. The one thing which is the same is that they want feedback, AND traditionally managers are not well skilled in providing feedback, be it constructive, or positive. The reason they don’t like feedback is directly related to the ability of the manager to properly give performance feedback.
Given these factors, it is a bit easier now for companies to hear and find out what it is that new generation employees don’t like about their employer. You no longer will have to dig and rely on employee surveys to know what is wrong…they will tell you.
Things that companies have put up with in the past will present huge problems going forward. For example, a company with the bullying or micro managing manager who may be competent in their own job, will be the major reason why employees decide to leave their employer. This new generation will be much less tolerant of poor management practices or employers who choose to ignore this. Employers that are not able to figure out how to properly communicate with this newer generation will have considerably more difficulty attracting, retaining and engaging the employees.
So, what should you be doing about this now? For a start, you need to understand and embrace the fact that status quo type management from the past will not work in the future. Specifically, new generation employees have a thirst for information like never before. As an example, they will want to know where a company is going and why? They will want to know why a company puts up with managers who are not properly trained to manage people; they will want to be asked their views on things – even things they have no responsibility for. In short, they need to be managed differently and better than what was previously expected from managers.
Employers going forward will need to:
1. have managers who truly know how to give job performance feedback
2. take an active interest in the development of employees
3. seek feedback from this new generation in terms of how they are being managed
4. be able to explain how their company makes a difference
5. articulate how the work of the employee affects where the company is headed strategically
6. seek feedback on things that can be improved – and act on it
In the Performance Management module of TwoGreySuits’ HR Power Centre there are 11 Skill Building Challenges in the People Management Skills subsection which outline in detail exactly ‘what to do’ and ‘how to do it’ in terms of all acts of properly managing people. This is the result of extensive research in this area and is assembled in the easiest to understand format available anywhere. The smart employers are acting on this now vs. later.
The 11 Skill Building Challenges are reviewed in detail under the following topics: