Alex Dooler offers his take on how to get the best out of the evolving demographics of the workplace
Eric switches on his camera. "Thank God it's Monday!" he thunders to his 800,000 online subscribers.
Eric Thomas is a motivational speaker who has amassed a huge following of tech-savvy millennials. He has tapped into a changing culture that sees young people ever-hungrier and more ambitious for success. Hashtags such as #Hustle and #ThankGodItsMonday are becoming a regular sight for those joining the ranks of the corporate world.
Evidence presented by the Harvard Business Review shines a light on this changing dynamic. Despite many lazy caricatures, millennials and other young workers are actually workaholics. Studies show that many young workers are keener to be seen as "work martyrs" and are also less likely to use their holiday entitlement. High employee turnover in this generation may also be indicative of an ambitious impatience for success.
Is this reflective of unique characteristics of millennials themselves, or rather just natural, youthful enthusiasm? That is up for debate, but it highlights the diversity of generations that exist in the modern workplace.
If you go to the heart of London's insurance market, you will find five different generations: traditionals (those born 1930-45); baby boomers (1946-64); Generation X (1965-1976); millennials (1977-1994); and Generation Y (after 1994). With this comes different perspectives on diversity, work culture, problem solving and risk appetite.
But how do we bridge the gap to best allow these generations to cooperate? One cannot assume that such a dense cross-section of diversity can work together harmoniously and effectively.
Pipelines of communication need to be made between generations. Depending on the issue, this will require varying approaches. On the bigger issues, we have strong institutions to facilitate this. DXC Digital Minds enables a multi-generational discussion about the technological implementation in our profession. The Dive In Festival provides a framework and impetus for discussion around diversity and inclusion.
Regarding more localised issues among team members though, differences can persist. Teams can be lumped together without a real opportunity for them to communicate their inter-generational perceptions. Daily issues such as hot-desking, flexible work, job longevity or communication channels are often not up for debate.
How can companies provide a forum for these discussions? AIG has led the way with its recent launch of its UK generations employee resource group. It has provided a platform for the company's diverse workforce to voice their differences in a structured setting. Expert lectures have been offered to explain these differences and how best to react to them.
The insurance sector has become home to a dense ecosystem of generations. With this comes a spectrum of perceptions about how we work. Diverse teams and employees must therefore champion open communication to address the resulting differences.
Alex Dooler is graduate surety underwriter at AIG
THREE THINGS TO TAKE AWAY
- The New Class-- Each new generation brings youthful enthusiasm and millenials are certainly no different
- Listen up-- Open communication across generations will encourage diversity of thought
- A raised platform-- Firms can encourage different viewpoints by highlighting the matter and providing a forum for discussion