And, should you care?…
Seems like a simple enough question right? In HR we want all workers to love us, young – fresh out of school, young – just starting families, a little less young – kids in school, even a little less young – kids going to college, empty nesters, etc., etc. But what if they don’t like you, what if they are working for your company “begrudgingly”? The Harvard Business Review asked a similar question recently – but it wasn’t about workers – it was about customers – Do Your Younger Customers Even Like Your Company? by Andrew McAfee. McAfee was looking at the model of Financial related institutions – i.e., traditional banks, insurance, investment firms, etc. and found that most younger people really don’t like dealing with these types of institutions, primarily because of how they make them interact to do business with them:
There are two types of bad news here for the services providers. The first one, obviously, is that these customers don’t like dealing with these companies. They do so because they need bank accounts, insurance policies, and retirement savings, but it’s never a good sign when someone does business with you begrudgingly.
The second piece of bad news is that the digital native viewpoint is spreading. Older people are adopting it as they friend their kids on Facebook, read Kindle books, and use iPads. These experiences show them that Ike is no longer president and websites no longer have to stink. So over time, the dominant model is going to make sense to an ever-smaller proportion of customers.
Certain industries are classic in not really caring what certain populations of their customer base really think – I mean let’s face it, the money isn’t coming from their younger customers (right now) so why put your energy and resources there – they’ll all get old eventually and then they’ll be the customer we want! You see the problem with that mentality is someone is going to figure it out – someone is going to go all Google (maybe even Google – can you imagine Bank of Google) and figure out to interact with this population and get what little money they have – and they’ll then have their money for life.
In HR companies face similar challenges. We always here about the cool, hip places all the younger workers want to work, but we rarely here about where they don’t want to work, and how many companies struggle to get good talent – for the simple reason your senior leadership doesn’t care about younger workers. That’s a problem. It’s not a problem right now, it’s a problem 5-10 years from now, when all the workers who do like you – want to retire. I get it – it’s tough – how do you become an employer of choice for a younger generation – when your company, your culture, your leadership really doesn’t want to change?
That’s your first challenge – getting your senior leadership to realize there is a need to change – mostly their perception – about the need to infuse some younger workers into your workforce. But not just adding some younger workers – adding some younger workers who really want to work for your company – that would chose to work for your company versus anyone else – not because it’s the only job they were offered. Talent wins. If you aren’t getting it, if you aren’t winning the talent game, your company is slowly dying – and you don’t even see it – it’s like a slow progressing disease and one day you’ll come to work – 10 years from now and find your company is no longer competitive.
So – open your eyes old people – you do need young workers – and you need young workers who want to work at your company – that takes change – that take compromise – you’ll both be better for it.
Finding new business processes and operational models that suit the way newer generations prefer to work is a challenge for those of us at the latter end of the baby boomer work ethic. Sometimes you just have to recreate how we do business.