Editor's Note: We would never dream of trying to predict the future—that's why we left it up to the futurists. In this series, we interview experts in HR, recruiting and the future of work to get their take on what's next.
Often times when we talk about the future of work we talk about millennials but they don't have to look forward to the future of work anymore—they're living it.
How? For one, they've surpassed Generation Xers to become the largest generation in the US labor force. And, like generations before them, they have their own set of expectations for their employers and work life that are fundamentally changing the workplace. But, unlike their predecessors, millennials have no problem moving on to a new job if they're dissatisfied: Millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion per year, according to a Gallup estimate.
That leaves human resources departments to either adapt faster than ever to attract and retain millennials, or risk having a revolving door of young employees.
In a continued conversation with futurist Rick Von Feldt, we talk about the big changes millennials are driving in the workplace and the workforce now that they are running the show, and how HR pros need to adjust their attitudes and processes to keep up with this rapid workplace evolution.
Here's How Millennials are Disrupting the Workplace
Millennials want change, and they want it now. Von Feldt notes a fundamental difference between the mindset of Generation X and millennials: the older generation wants to make improvements, but millennials want change.
"There's a big difference between the word improve and the word change," Von Feldt says. "Generation X became the process improvers. They spent their time thinking, how do we make incremental improvements little by little?"
But millennials come along and say, incrementalism doesn't make much sense. If there's something they don't like, why try to make it better? Instead, Von Feldt says, they want to just change it completely—for example, if vacation requests take forever to approve because they're still handled via email, a millennial would recommend adopting a dedicated technology to streamline the process. There's no point in trying to fix a broken approach As a result, disruption in the workplace is happening at a record pace.
Millennials are one of the key drivers of job automation. According to Von Feldt, just because technology is more advanced and more available doesn't mean it's the single cause of the so-called robot revolution. There are many factors driving companies to adopt technology to assist with or take over certain tasks—including cultural influences, like the fact that millennials don't want to do work that can be automated, Von Feldt says.
In the manufacturing industry, for example, when millennials see older workers picking up tools and making things, their attitude is, "I grew up with technology my entire life, and I would much rather show you how to use a machine to automate that and do it faster and better," Von Feldt says. "They want to direct change."
Companies—and even entire industries—won't attract millennials if they don't give them the opportunity to use technology to change how they work.
Millennials expect personalization all the time. As Von Feldt puts it, the youngest generations live in a world where they're told "they can have what they want, when they want it, just as they want it." And in an age where everything from cleaning services, to grocery delivery to transportation is available on-demand, they've gotten used to it.
In the past, HR departments have made decisions for the company as a whole, and every employee got the same experience. But now, younger workers will look for personalized experiences, and HR departments will have to find the technology and tools to meet their expectations. Identifying the right tools will require some research, but it can also be helpful to go straight to the source—ask millennials what kind of technology they think might be missing from their workplace, and consider their recommendations, Von Feldt urges.
How Do HR Pros Keep Up with Millennials?
Just as millennials are pushing for change in the workplace, HR pros need to adopt that same way of thinking. They can't just make improvements here and there—they need to make impactful changes.
It's important for HR leaders to understand that they don't have to be millennials themselves to drive change. Any generation can be part of next-generation thinking, Von Feldt believes.
For example, he says, what if HR departments changed how they think about education in an effort to meet millennials expectations for personalization and better prepare for the gig economy? What if, instead of seeking out those elusive perfect candidates with skill sets that ideally match a specific job description today, they focused on hiring creative, nimble thinkers and enabling them to learn on the job? Von Feldt envisions a world in which companies curate personalized learning content for workers' and even develops their own "universities of the future" to give employees the skills they'll need to thrive as their jobs evolve.
It's imperative that HR departments adopt this mindset quickly, because millennials will disrupt the workforce regardless of how prepared HR might be."The real question is, what kind of leader are you?," he asks. "Are you a next-generation leader that understands the speed of disruption, or are you going to get pushed into it?"
Photo: Creative Commons
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Alexander Mann Solutions wins Cornerstone OnDemands sponsored categories at the TIARA 2020 Talent Solutions Awards
Here at Cornerstone, we absolutely love to hear inspiring stories and share them far and wide, especially when they are about talent management! We were recently headline sponsors of the TIARA 2020 Talent Solutions Awards. These annual awards, hosted by TALiNT International, celebrate excellence across the RPO, MSP and Talent Solutions marketplace, and recognise the wonderful ways companies are demonstrating exemplary growth, innovation and leadership. For 2020, it was the usual great awards with a bit of a difference. As we know, everything has now moved online – even this year’s Convergence! But this didn’t seem to impact the TIARA Talent Solution Awards at all. Despite not being able to celebrate face-to-face, the event was filled with laughter, engagement, and most of all, lots of fun! This year, we also supported the Best Use of Technology Award as well as the Overall Winner. The winner – triumphing in both categories – could not be more deserving, and so we duly wanted to pass on our huge congratulations to Alexander Mann Solutions! Alexander Mann was awarded the Cornerstone OnDemand Best Use of Technology Award for their brilliant ‘Find Your Fit’ technology solution. The platform offers users personal preferences and assisted future growth through interactive videos, personalised one-to-one calls, and a dedicated platform to match skills with current roles within the organisation. The solution had 1,200 employees enrolling within just six months of implementation and is continuing to improve every day. Find Your Fit helps employees to understand how their organisation functions better, including the areas that are growing the most rapidly. In turn, this helps employees to develop the skills they need in order to take advantage of these developments to enhance not only their personal career progression, but overall business performance. After all, businesses don’t innovate, people do! The judges commended this entry for “the clear way in which an innovative technology solution clearly delivered in results”. The judges also applauded Alexander Mann for demonstrating customer care by really listening to client’s individual challenges and using inventive technology solutions to help design a custom built solution that helps to support the overall internal career options and pathways available to each organisation. The award was accepted virtually by Stephen Gordon, Recruitment Tech Lead at Talent Collective/AMS. In addition to being awarded Best Use of Technology, Alexander Mann was also recognised as this year’s overall winner of the Talent Solutions Awards. Chair of Judges, Jim Richardson highlighted that “the overall winner is based on the organisation that consistently demonstrates excellence and innovation across all of its activities”. Both Peoplescout and Guidant Global were highly commended by the judges for their brilliant work, but ultimately, Alexander Mann took home the award for demonstrating consistently high standards across all areas. Jim Richardson added that although Alexander Mann has the resources to support many initiatives, it has still managed to deliver consistently on large scale and complex global projects. This is a phenomenally impressive achievement that all of us at Cornerstone also wish to say a huge congratulations for! The other winners and nominees from this year’s TIARA Talent Solutions Awards have highlighted more excellent work and brilliant stories across the recruiting sector and HR community. For the full list of winners, check out the TALiNT International’s September/October 2020 edition here.
Blog: Why HR need to lead the agile change journey
It's been going on for a while now - the shift towards more agile and flexible companies that quickly can adapt to the fast-changing times of today. Organisations that are unable to make this move are gradually losing competitiveness and finding it more difficult to prove themselves against smaller and faster players. Those who recognise the need and are able to create new conditions for the business, in the form of new structures, will survive and flourish in tomorrow's economic reality. Agile HR can be viewed from two different angles; How HR should work together within the HR team and what / how HR should deliver value to the business for which they exist. All HR processes that are part of Talent and People Management will be different when you start working agile, and each of the processes have their specific tools and working methods. Here we will look at HR from a more general perspective, to get an overall understanding of how the HR role, and the corresponding deliverables, change in a company that wants to increase its business agility. The goal is to focus on creating better workplaces through the development of teams and individuals, throughout the whole organisation. Small and medium-sized companies are easier to change, as they have less hierarchical structures, and often a more decentralised business, where everyone has an ability to make the decisions that need to be made, locally rather than centrally. The larger and more complex a company is, the more systems, processes, and structures there are that cannot be easily and quickly changed. Although it is possible to change a department in the organisation, some issues might remain that forces the department back into the central structures. This happens because it is not possible to isolate a specific part of the business. You can compare it to an attempt to change a rubber ball. It changes when it is being squeezed, but when you let go, it quickly returns to its old shape. However, there is one functional department in most large organisations that can influence all the other parts at once – HR. In many large companies, HR controls; ● Leadership programs and development ● Change management ● Organisational development ● Employee engagement ● Employee training and skills development ● Rewards and bonuses ● Recruitment ● Goal setting and performance reviews ● Long term mix of employees All these processes or areas flow through the entire organisation. These are the structures that can support, or prevent, a more radical change towards a more agile company. It all depends on HOW we work with processes and programs. They can be developed in a way that, paradoxically, prevents performance and commitment. Or they can optimise performance and employee satisfaction. HR struggles with criticisms, it is accused of being some kind of "organisational police", which hinders performance and commitment by implementing Talent management processes in a way that was intended to increase the same. This needs to change. HR has been in the back seat for too long and now it is time to take responsibility for a change in how to support the organisation. Because it is about people, and relationships between people, this is the key to how the company performs as a whole. It is the system that fundamentally needs to change, not the people. We do not need to do more things or implement complicated frameworks and methods. Instead, we need to understand how we can make it easier for people to make their best contribution to the company, by providing supportive structures, instead of hindering structures. It is through more experiments and by trying different working methods, that one can find the best path for each organisation, and each team/individual. Here, the agile principles and the agile mindset serve as a guide. Agile tools and frameworks work sometimes, but not always. The only way to continually improve is through constant learning, which also means that we sometimes fail. Companies that learn faster than others, and turn that knowledge into new ways of working for employees, but also new products and services for external customers, gain a competitive advantage and will be the winner of the future. HR has the power and the ability to design the structures that aim to either support or make it harder for employees to contribute in creative and innovative ways. If HR sticks to the old, traditional ways of working, the consequence will be rigid and non-agile organisations that use inefficient systems and processes. HR can either hinder or support the change, so HR must show the way. By providing opportunities for alternative and more agile working methods, and by focusing on value creation and value flows for the internal and by extension also external customers, HR can lead companies through changes that no other department is capable of. The next blog chapter will dive into HR's changing role.