Beware of the generation gap in the corporate world

In 1987, the Brundtland Committee report defined sustainable development as one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.

About three and a half decades ago, millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) were just entering kindergarten, and as they grew, they experienced a technology boom.

They watched live the many disasters of our time, mostly man-made – famine, wars, migrations, climate change-related deforestation – hit them through the lens of television cameras and affected their thoughts forever.

Today there has been a series of studies on how Millennials and some representatives of Gen Z view their potential employers and what they hope to get out of it. Almost inevitably, in the West, some aspect of social consciousness, purpose and values ​​features in about 80% of responses.

They talk about pay and benefits, but they are quite certain that a sense of purpose and meaning will be built into the employee value proposition.

Millennials now make up the bulk of the workforce. Older millennials have proven to be key decision makers and influencers in many businesses today.

In India, the companies which are the Indian branches of the multinationals assume their social responsibility to be listed or obtain awards in India. Other groups or businesses that follow the saying of social responsibility do so out of a personal sense of commitment to a broader set of causes.

What’s interesting is how combative and hostile millennials sound when talking about their potential employers, whether they’re in the West or in India. While some are low-key and diplomatic in their responses, others are blunt, often saying they would call their employers if they didn’t keep their social promises.

For their part, this zeal is greeted with great cynicism by the bosses. They believe that if it weren’t for the money, millennials wouldn’t be doing these jobs at all. As one employer put it, “worry is nothing more than a veneer, it’s just holier than your puritanism.” This mutual distrust and unease must be entrusted by CEOs to their HRDs so that the multiple assets of intergenerational diversity are put to use for the good of the company.

Work together

HR should call for the inclusion of various generational groups. He should recognize that the older generation needs to come together first. The HR division must first map the number of diverse groups in the company and look at the brasstacks of that diversity – it’s not just visible diversity that counts like race or color, but what we calls cognitive diversity: diversity of opinions, of points of view.

The older generation should take the lead in having crucial and critical conversations; be good coaches and let newcomers work with a democratic leadership style. Unconscious and conscious biases with older generations can be explored. Employers have preconceived ideas about what employees really want.

A joint workshop with millennials on how to work together will be helpful. These workshops can be rooted in the principles of negotiation theory and practice. A workshop on how to unlearn past knowledge, even if it has been useful to them, is important.

Millennials, on the other hand, need to be trained in different forms of dialogue. Many good managers realize that the best way to work with good newcomers is to give them general direction and let them figure out how to get things done. The two biggest barriers to cross-generational diversity and inclusion issues are the division of power between the two generations and unconscious bias. space of social responsibility.

The author has over 20 years of HR experience
, Diversity and CSR