Resources: Blog Post

  
May 21, 2015

Why generational labels are lazy but a good place to start

Millennials working together

Of the many articles and studies about millennials and their impact on the workplace, one thing is for sure: by 2020 millennials are expected to make up 50 per cent of the workforce. By 2024, this number increases to 75 per cent.

Beyond these facts, it seems that for every article I read that provides useful insight on the uniqueness of those born between 1980 and 2000, there quickly follows a new article designed to bust the myth altogether. This leaves many questioning whether the Me Generation is going to create the workplace revolution that has been threatened or just settle in to the comfortable monotony where we’re all the same.

As HR professionals, we may struggle to make sense of this contradictory insight and end up not doing anything to recognize the differences the millennial generation brings to the workplace. At best, that’s a missed opportunity, and at worst, it increases the risk of your organization becoming slowly irrelevant as the Future of Work marches forward.

For many, using generational labels – like millennials – is lazy, but they are a good place to start.

At RSA Canada, we have purposefully taken a broad perspective of the generations and developed specific programs to ensure we appreciate any differences. We are preparing for the Future of Work where as many of five generations will be working alongside each other.

The catalyst for this work was a talent problem we were facing with up to 50 per cent of our top technical talent predicted to retire in the next five years. While this is broadly consistent with the overall insurance industry, we were careful not to take comfort from this fact and so we responded with a three-prong strategy.

1. Understanding our audience

We took time to understand what really makes millennials different. Yes these characteristics can often be generalizations but they are a good place to start. The need for purpose, transparency, meaningful work, flexibility and progression all came through as strong trends. We have responded to these trends by challenging our traditional policies and approaches as part of our ambition to develop a more contemporary and future-proof workplace.

2. Accelerating the development of our emerging talent

Another one of the rare consistencies in the morass of millennial descriptors is their need for focused development. At RSA, we introduced an accelerated development program for our key emerging technical talent to ensure they obtained critical experience as soon as is practical. The program included some thoughtful and structured interactions with their more senior colleagues who were great sources of information and insight.

3. Holding on to our Baby Boomers

Like any good insurance company, we understand the value of managing risk. So, in addition to our focus on the millennial generation, we also looked at the Baby Boomers in our organization. We have had some success in engaging with our most technical talent in a way that suits their personal circumstances, which allows us to retain their important skills and knowledge. This has either involved a new flexible working pattern or simply taking that extra bit of time to make sure they feel appropriately valued for the unique skills they have as a generation.

Personally I think the millennial generation is different to other generations. Understanding them and using them as a catalyst for change in your organization creates huge opportunity as the Future of Work marches on. Ignore them and any generational differences? Well in my mind that’s just lazy.

Are you ready for the millennial takeover?
Join the conversation on LinkedIn

About the Author

Photo of Mark EdgarMark Edgar joined RSA in January 2011 in the role of Vice President, Human Resources with overall responsibility for HR across all companies within RSA Canada. Previously Mark was based in the UK as Head of Human Resources within Centrica Plc; a major energy company operating in the UK under the British Gas brand. Mark has also worked for BSkyB, a TV, broadband and phone company, in an HR role responsible for their operational business units and customer facing teams. Mark holds a BSc (Hons) in Management Sciences from the University of Warwick and is a member of The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Contact Mark at mark.edgar@rsagroup.ca
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkEdgarHR
Connect with Mark on LinkedIn: ca.linkedin.com/pub/mark-edgar/1/460/89/en


Filed under: corporate perspective, culture, diversity, millennials, talent Tagged: culture, diversity, millennials, talent

Millennials working together

Of the many articles and studies about millennials and their impact on the workplace, one thing is for sure: by 2020 millennials are expected to make up 50 per cent of the workforce. By 2024, this number increases to 75 per cent.

Beyond these facts, it seems that for every article I read that provides useful insight on the uniqueness of those born between 1980 and 2000, there quickly follows a new article designed to bust the myth altogether. This leaves many questioning whether the Me Generation is going to create the workplace revolution that has been threatened or just settle in to the comfortable monotony where we’re all the same.

As HR professionals, we may struggle to make sense of this contradictory insight and end up not doing anything to recognize the differences the millennial generation brings to the workplace. At best, that’s a missed opportunity, and at worst, it increases the risk of your organization becoming slowly irrelevant as the Future of Work marches forward.

For many, using generational labels – like millennials – is lazy, but they are a good place to start.

At RSA Canada, we have purposefully taken a broad perspective of the generations and developed specific programs to ensure we appreciate any differences. We are preparing for the Future of Work where as many of five generations will be working alongside each other.

The catalyst for this work was a talent problem we were facing with up to 50 per cent of our top technical talent predicted to retire in the next five years. While this is broadly consistent with the overall insurance industry, we were careful not to take comfort from this fact and so we responded with a three-prong strategy.

1. Understanding our audience

We took time to understand what really makes millennials different. Yes these characteristics can often be generalizations but they are a good place to start. The need for purpose, transparency, meaningful work, flexibility and progression all came through as strong trends. We have responded to these trends by challenging our traditional policies and approaches as part of our ambition to develop a more contemporary and future-proof workplace.

2. Accelerating the development of our emerging talent

Another one of the rare consistencies in the morass of millennial descriptors is their need for focused development. At RSA, we introduced an accelerated development program for our key emerging technical talent to ensure they obtained critical experience as soon as is practical. The program included some thoughtful and structured interactions with their more senior colleagues who were great sources of information and insight.

3. Holding on to our Baby Boomers

Like any good insurance company, we understand the value of managing risk. So, in addition to our focus on the millennial generation, we also looked at the Baby Boomers in our organization. We have had some success in engaging with our most technical talent in a way that suits their personal circumstances, which allows us to retain their important skills and knowledge. This has either involved a new flexible working pattern or simply taking that extra bit of time to make sure they feel appropriately valued for the unique skills they have as a generation.

Personally I think the millennial generation is different to other generations. Understanding them and using them as a catalyst for change in your organization creates huge opportunity as the Future of Work marches on. Ignore them and any generational differences? Well in my mind that’s just lazy.

Are you ready for the millennial takeover?
Join the conversation on LinkedIn

About the Author

Photo of Mark EdgarMark Edgar joined RSA in January 2011 in the role of Vice President, Human Resources with overall responsibility for HR across all companies within RSA Canada. Previously Mark was based in the UK as Head of Human Resources within Centrica Plc; a major energy company operating in the UK under the British Gas brand. Mark has also worked for BSkyB, a TV, broadband and phone company, in an HR role responsible for their operational business units and customer facing teams. Mark holds a BSc (Hons) in Management Sciences from the University of Warwick and is a member of The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Contact Mark at mark.edgar@rsagroup.ca
Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkEdgarHR
Connect with Mark on LinkedIn: ca.linkedin.com/pub/mark-edgar/1/460/89/en


Filed under: corporate perspective, culture, diversity, millennials, talent Tagged: culture, diversity, millennials, talent
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