In this article, we continue our look at the challenge of finding workers and keeping them. Much has been written about the retiring workforce and all the challenges that this is causing. In this issue we are going to look at an often misunderstood generation and what they are bringing with them to the workplace.
This group works mainly evenings, weekends, holidays, summer etc. The majority of kidployees are either students or are thinking about going back to school. This may or may not be their first job. Today’s youth are the employees of the future for all of us. Much has been written about the pending shortage of workers in North America, but very little is out there to help you understand how to work with the new workers coming into the workforce. Across the United States and Canada we have 64.5 million people who are currently between the ages of five and 19 years old. This is the next workforce and they are showing us what to expect as they begin to appear in our offices, sales counters, customer service departments and on our shop floors.
In 1972 I was ten years old. This is the year that the video game Pong was introduced to the world by Atari. It was a pleasant game originally called “tennis for two”. I played that game for hours and hours, enthralled by the “boop-boop” of successful hits.
Next to come along was the Atari 2600 which brought us Space Invaders, Pack Man, Tetris, Centipede and others. All these games had one thing in common – we played until you ran out of time or ran out of “lives”. The best part was that when the game was over we would get the opportunity to enter our initials on the screen next to our score. The goal was to always play it again and improve on your score. Isn’t it funny how when we became the generation for organizational development and training we coined the phrase, continual improvement?
Skip ahead to the current generation of video games, or more importantly the kidployees who have grown up playing them. Here is how it looks in our house
Do you see a difference in the two generations and their video games? The current group has been taught from the time they walked into daycare at age one (do you remember when we started school at Grade one, not age one?) when they complete a task they will be rewarded. It started with a sticker on the calendar when they slept through naptime and progressed from there. Are you seeing any Entitlement Attitude driving some undesirable behaviours in your workplace with this generation? This is what fueled it.
The next generation of new, untrained, inexperienced workers is ready to replace the retiring, experienced and trained employees.
Age 45 – 59
Age 05 – 19
Let’s take a look at what it is like to grow up in the past eighteen years in a typical North American home. The message that they have heard all their lives is that they need to do well in school and get an education or else they will end up working at a burger palace all their lives. They have been told over and over again that you need to pass this level to get to the next level and each level was celebrated.
Advertise Flexible Scheduling – The good ones have busy lives and are looking to exercise some independence by contributing to their own expenses. The ones that you are hoping to avoid are usually the ones that can work whenever you need them.
Advancement Opportunities – They have been conditioned to recognize success as going through levels. This has become very important to them.
Learning a New Skill – All their lives they have been learning. They don’t want to stop now. It is what they do best.
Fast-Paced – Keep it moving or they are not interested in hanging around.
Train the Managers – You cannot change the kidployee so don’t even try. Train the managers in terms of their expectations.
Avoid Embellishment – Do not over-promise and under-deliver. Don’t say you are looking for a great team player and then have them sit on a phone in your call centre, never working as part of a team other than to yell the company cheer.
Continuous Feedback – They have had it all their lives. They still need it now.
Incentives (Recognition) – The stickers on the chart at daycare were their first rewards. It does not have to be a trip for two to Europe – just be consistent in how they receive the incentives.