The Youth Factor


I’m just going to come right out and say it:  I think the younger generations get it.  I know, I know there have been countless articles written about the generation divide, the Boomers versus Millennial debates, but I’m going to add one more to the mix.  I’m not going to bash the idealism of the younger crowd, in fact, I embrace it and I encourage you to open your mind and put yourself in their shoes for a bit.

The stark reality is, most businesses are not prepared for the mass exodus of us “Boomers” over the next 5-10 years and Gen Y’s are headed for the retirement line sooner than you think.  It’s time we embrace the innovative, outside the box mindset of those 20-30 years younger, not only is it just smart business but frankly, we don’t have a choice.

People in their 20’s and early 30’s get it, they understand work life balance in a way my generation never did.  We are a generation of workaholics.  Many of my peers are insanely driven by the almighty dollar and forget to slow down and smell the roses until it’s too late.  The youth factor is changing our business culture and I am all for it!  Flexible work schedules, inclusion and diversity as top priorities, hiring based on a person’s strengths and talents versus their resume.

The emphasis for these youth is more than “culture fit” when they are considering a job or career move, it’s a deep personal connection they are looking for.  Do the core values of the company match theirs?  Do the leaders of the company care about their employees – I mean really care?  Does the company embrace authenticity and individuality?

Companies that are thriving understand the youth factor and they embrace it.  From dress codes to remote workstations to onsite daycare and healthcare facilities.  It’s all about letting people be themselves and knowing when your employees are happy and comfortable they will outperform those who are miserable and doing a job they aren’t meant to do.

It seems simple but it’s not.  For startups founded by millennials, this is a no brainer because they are building a culture from the ground up.  For companies with a traditional org chart and culture, it’s a bit trickier as this is more a mindset shift than anything else.  It’s a mindset shift for my generation.

I say it’s time to let go of the negativity around the youth in our workforce.  Are they different? Yes.  Is that a bad thing? No.  Change is difficult for most people. When you start changing cultures of entire companies, it’s Noah’s Ark epic – in that not everyone will get on the boat and survive.  Those who do embrace the change will find their new culture is exciting, fun, enriching and engaging.

The future is now.  The shift is happening now.  The youth factor is present, it’s vibrant and it isn’t going anywhere.  Personally, I love these younger generations. I love their energy, I love their optimism and I absolutely love the fact that they feel they can change the world.  Kind of reminds me of the 60’s. Ok, now I’m dating myself a bit – I was a kid, but I remember.

What are your thoughts?  Agree? Disagree?