About 85% of company leaders are over 40 years old—predominantly Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964) and Gen Xers (born 1965–1980). They see the world through the lenses of their generations, hesitant to put in the work to find merit in younger generations. Why should they? What do Millennials (born 1981–1996) and Gen Zers (born 1997–2010) have to offer?
The younger generations will soon begin taking the majority of CEO positions. They will be caretakers, employers, and world leaders. The lives of current executives will fall into their hands. Until then, they should keep silent and learn from the experiences of their elders. Right?
No! We must learn from them!
Though criticized in past years for being “not politically engaged enough,” Millennials and Gen Zers recently proved themselves. The 2022 midterms were predicted to be a “Red Wave.” Republicans were poised to win massive victories in the House and Senate, taking a huge majority. Rather than a wave, Republicans took the House in a trickle, winning only a slight majority, and lost the Senate.
This outcome is, in large part, thanks to young voters. One in eight voters during the midterms were under 30, with the majority of voters between 18 and 34 primarily voting Democrat. Young people showed up to take a stand for women’s rights that were threatened this year, legislation to slow climate change, and gun control reform in the midst of continued violence across America.
The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance notes that, in addition to making their voices heard during the election, young adults have also taken part in “other forms of citizen activism. They’ve driven mass protests, occupy movements, and increased use of social media as a new platform of political engagement.” Forbes contributor Dr. Jason Wingard points out that while older Baby Boomers once protested in favor of systemic change on college campuses in the 1960s, Gen Zers now spark their protests online.
The venue is both natural and effective because the majority of news is consumed online, and technology allows activists to rally immediately. Through these virtual connections, history is being made, and voices are being heard. Campaign leaders, politicians, and activists are mobilizing their online following using TikTok trends and social media influencers.
The younger generation is savvy and passionate. Their approach is unique and innovative, and it is changing the world. They have proven that they deserve our attention and respect, and it’s long past the time that we gave it to them. What should employers do to leverage the benefits of the Millennials and Gen Zers in their workforce?
The opportunities are endless. Creative and unburdened by the weight of workplace tradition, Gen Z employees, in particular, will have boundless insight—and questions.
Anyone with children has answered the “Why?” questions.
“Why is the sky blue?”
“Why do we drive on the right side of the road?”
Despite the nuisance that these questions may be initially, the curiosity of young minds forces us all to take on a new perspective. Gen Z has the same power in the workplace.
“Why do you do it that way? Wouldn’t this be easier?”
Do you have a good answer? You may tend to dismiss their question and explain that there is a certain way to do things because it is the way things have always been done. So what? Take on their curiosity. Ask yourself what could be improved about your company’s approach.
We have seen that the younger generations are passionate. They are thoughtful and energetic. By giving them opportunities to collaborate and lead, companies could begin experiencing the full benefits of their strengths.
Without the tech-savviness and ingenuity of Gen Z and Millennials, moving online in 2020 might not have been achievable. Their leadership will continue to be invaluable as businesses attempt to tackle current and future challenges. If you’re struggling with retention or engagement, why not ask for insight from the largest demographic in the workforce: Millennials?
They will have a wealth of understanding to provide because they know firsthand why they or their peers would leave a position or disengage from their team. The members of this age group are eager to work for employers who share their values. Disappointment in their company’s response to controversy could lead them to switch jobs or disengage. Young workers are perceptive, introspective. They place great weight on morality. Perhaps your company isn’t aligning with their needs and values. Allow them opportunities to provide feedback on how you could do better, and go the extra mile by allowing them to guide you as you create development strategies.
After accusing Millennials and Gen Zers of being “snowflakes,” emotionally delicate yet eager to be completely distinct from everyone else, “lazy,” and “entitled,” some business leaders may be unwilling to grant such privileges to their employees. It’s time to put those prejudices aside and realize that young people have been misjudged. They are compassionate, determined, and innovative. Allow their infectious enthusiasm to take over your team rather than squandering it.
We can’t afford to take them for granted any longer.
To take full advantage of the young superheroes in your workforce. We recommend:
- Communicate and listen
- Create think tanks led by the younger employees on how to impactfully move forward
- Bring all generations together to develop ideas on how technology can intersect with traditional approaches to tasks
- Consider career development shifts—young professionals are interested in moving faster and are willing to put in the effort to do so
- Look to Millennials to help shape management in virtual and hybrid environments
These are daunting tasks, but you don’t have to tackle them alone. Alignment Strategies is here to provide you with the resources necessary to amplify your young workforce’s passion. Connect with us to discover how we can support you in harnessing the full potential of your team.