Monday, 24th May, 2021

Are you ready for the Millennial Boom?  By Stephanie Holloway, Elemental Potential

I’ve worked with around 30 New Zealand businesses this year so far, and most of them I’ve worked with twice. Their employee numbers vary from 10 to thousands. Businesses I work with tend to either book one session/day and then extend their development further after that, or intentionally book a series of sessions. In addition, I’ve worked with businesses in New Zealand, Australia and England remotely. So, you can imagine, I have worked with lots of people and business owners.

Within the next 3-5 years Boomers will retire en masse and Gen X will make big decisions about whether they want to step into their shoes (or not). It is estimated that when the dust settles, 75% of the workforce in New Zealand (and globally) will be Millennials.

Figures vary (depending on where you look) but almost 50% of all small businesses/sole traders in NZ are Gen X owned. If you included medium businesses that percentage would increase significantly. 

It was always in Gen X’s generational make up that they wanted to work for themselves - in order to have the lifestyle they desired. If they had to work for someone else, they wanted it on their terms. They were the generation that invented flexi-time and job sharing to carve out the time for things they really wanted to do. This poses the question, will there be enough of them in the general workforce to step into Boomers shoes, and will they want to?

One of the most prudent things a business owner could do at this point in time is to have an honest chat with their Gen X employees and ask them if they aim to stick around until 65. I suspect that many will say no. My concern is that business owners will make massive assumptions about Gen X picking up the leadership slack when Boomers leave. If Gen X employee’s then leave sooner than anticipated, Millennials could be left unprepared, and untrained for the top jobs.

The question I’ve been asking since Jan this year to businesses and people I’ve been interacting with is this – “Is your business ready for the transition that is coming?” 

In Millennial only sessions, the general trend is 8 out of 10 attendees are saying NO! Many business owners don’t actually know the answer. Do you?

The rare few, are not only ready – they are ahead of the curve. 

What have they done? 

  • They have had reverse mentoring in place for the past few years, to download masses of information and knowledge from their Boomers to Millennials and Gen Z. 
  • They have listened to Millennial and Gen Z employees who have been pivotal in seeing opportunities for efficiencies in processes and productivity.
  • They have seriously flexible working policies that were there way before Covid hit and forced businesses into it. All have employees working remotely from different countries. People who work from home, and people who work across several branches and locations in New Zealand.
  • Some have quiet rooms for Gen Z employees to work in when they are on site, and six businesses I have worked with this year are currently building them.

In addition to the 30 businesses that I’ve worked with, I’ve run several events across the country, to remind business owners about the transition that is ahead. I’ve also been working with Millennials in sessions (specifically for that generation) so that they can download their thoughts and ideas. They can then take that information back into the business they work in and affect strategic planning for the coming transition.

Here are the trends that I’ve been hearing this year from Millennials and Gen Z:

From Millennials – performance reviews are an after-thought, often done late, forgotten, and no action taken from things that come up from them. They see this as “dis-organised and dis-interested in their opinions and contributions.”

From Millennials – not being kept in the loop about what is happening in the business and where it is going - so they don’t know if it’s worth sticking around.

From Gen Z – not being told the ‘why’ of what they are being asked to do. 

From Millennials and Gen Z – being told there is no money for more people, so people end up working hours that are too long and stressful. Both generations believe that they work smarter and utilise the right people for the role better.

From Millennials and Gen Z – Both generations would change the layout of their workplace given the opportunity.

So, are you ready? Are you listening? Are you asking the right questions to the right people? 

What’s your next move?