As I write this, I’m preparing to speak at the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors later this month on building a stronger intergenerational workforce. One of the key topics I’ll be discussing is the fact that organizations in the manufacturing, distribution or services sectors are faced with a very interesting challenge during the coming decade and most CEOs and Executives don’t even know it.
As baby boomers retire and more millennials enter the workforce, organizations of all sizes are considering how to attract new talent. Not surprisingly the methods to find and attract a younger generation of employee have evolved during the past decade, and although important – this isn’t the challenge I’m referring to.
You see, once you attract your top talent you have to keep them. This is where the challenge exists.
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When I say “keep” an employee, I’m not referring to ways to engage, motivate or lead today’s younger generation, although these are all significant in their own right. Specifically what most organizations are not considering is how the structure and functions within their organizations, that is the very jobs they are asking new employees to perform, are not appealing or interesting and that is a big challenge.
Assembly line work, pick and pack operations or call center work for example all require employees to perform relative straightforward tasks repetitively. In fact, most organizations today have looked for ways to increase predictability in order to measure productivity.
Let me ask you, however, do you think a twenty-something is going to want to do the same thing over and over again?
The answer is clearly no.
So we have a big gap that exists between how we have structured the roles and responsibilities within an organization, and creating appeal for younger generations that actually makes them want to stay at the same job.
What can you do about this challenge?
For one thing, start asking younger employees how you might make specific jobs or roles more interesting? There is no better place to begin your research than with the employees themselves.
Secondly, stop focusing so much on trying to build “conforming” leaders, and instead begin to help managers and supervisors shift their role to be a facilitator, someone who supports and serves employees rather than demands and controls.
Most importantly, stop trying to create measures that require repeat tasks and broaden measures to be more dynamic. It shouldn’t matter, for example, as to how many calls you answer in a day, but what should matter is how much you improved the client’s situation that called in the first place. It shouldn’t matter how many pieces you picked, but instead how quickly you were able to meet carrier deadlines without mistakes, errors or damage in materials.
It’s time we shift our thinking to consider how we can make a working environment that caters less to what employees were willing to tolerate several decades ago, and instead serves to meet the highly educated and inquisitive nature of today’s younger employees.
For more ideas on how to create a working environment that appeals to today’s younger generation employees, get yourself a copy of my forthcoming book from McGraw Hill entitled “Operational Empowerment: Collaborate, Innovate and Engage to Beat the Competition.” Send me a copy of your receipt and I will send you a second signed copy on release in October of 2015 signed and at no charge.
© Shawn Casemore 2014. All rights reserved.