Why are today’s new workers unhappy, unfocused and disinterested in their jobs. It’s not a case of them not adjusting to the organisation, it’s that the organisation is an alien, individualistic and unstimulating environment for them. The organisation needs to adjust to them, for this new generation of employees are also our new customers.
Today’s graduates and young employees have emerged from a childhood and educational system that has been very different from that of any generation before them. Learning techniques have evolved to be less formal and more enquiry based. Gone are the days of learning by repetition. Children these days are thought to understand by questioning, to observe with the critical eye, to test their assumptions and prepare for lifelong learning. They are taught the world is interconnected and ecosystems and societies depend on each other. The internet is a repository of information and resource. The skills children are being though is how to search it effectively and how to decipher what information is valid and useful. They are thought to work alone or in groups to achieve an outcome. Computer games familiarise children with a multimedia world in a gamified, interesting and competitive way. Children nowadays are bottom-line focused, used to the metrics presented to them at the end of each game. They watch videos on how to do better, reaching out to experts on demand through YouTube and excepting of their guidance. Mutli-player games and class pods teach kids to work together to achieve objectives by solving problems using analysis techniques including visual modelling, root cause analysis, data analysis, scenario modelling, trial and error, prototyping, white space thinking and other techniques. The focus is on acquiring the analysis technique not memorised unquestioned answer. This creates a culture of learning – I need to get better to compete, I want to learn, I expect to learn. Students today are thought to function on their own or in a team. I am happier and more interested when I improve whether that be on my own or part of a team.
In my day, growing up in the 80’s, games didn’t have metrics or mentors on demand or indeed encouraged teamwork, in an organised way, beyond solving football field related predicaments.
For me to improve at chess or my geography project, I had to go to the library to find a boring print-heavy book to learn more. I could only play chess with my brother or at a local chess competition once a month in a drab hall with people I did not relate to. Now you can compete with people instantly and easily from around the world. New exciting worlds and games constantly appear. Children have to adjust quickly to learn how to play and compete. They like to compete. They focus hard to learn the game rules. They experiment, problem solve and have no problem reaching out for help. Their mind is nimble and change does not phase them. They expect change and know how to a deal with it. They are trained at school and cultivated in their peer gamified world to be Agile. Agile to deal with change. Hungry to embrace the challenge, focused on the metrics, wise to global competition, keen to compete and preconditioned to thrive in a collaborative and learning-rich environment.
How do we build on this momentum when these children come of age and enter the workforce. Often they become disinterested in a static authoritative work environment or disheartened by the lack of support to help them grow. They are used to a world where they contribute in a meaningful way, where they are empowered to make decisions and they can learn, collaborate and improve constantly. They like a challenge and they have the mindset to face it. They are not afraid of change, they are disloyal to tradition or a brand if a better one comes along. They have been conditioned to question the status quo and not take assumptions for granted. They are not overly worried if there is a sudden change and they have to play by new rules. Indeed they are unafraid to rewrite the rules themselves.
What can we do as managers of organisations to welcome and foster the creatively and drive in this new generation of employees? We need to transform the organisation into a platform that cultivates and supports their way of thinking, working and contributing meaningfully. For this new generation of workers are also our new generation of customers.
R1 is a people and learning consultancy that specialises in supporting organisations transforming to Being Agile not just Doing Agile. Talk to us to see how we can help your organisation become more innovative, customer focused and productive.