So much has been written about the emerging generations, the lack of young leaders emerging, the disengagement of the young from work but the hard truth is that most of it has little to do with generational change and far with how the business has behaved over the last decade. The issue lies with business, not with the talent or people.
As the world has become increasingly open and transparent, so this has made business ever more controlling over everything that goes on.
The closest relationship that 95% of us have today is with our mobile phone. On average, it is with us 14 hours per day. Research tells us that we average around 150 emails per day and 50 other forms of a message. We spend 7 hours per day on average looking at a screen – mobile or computer. We spend 1 hour per day talking to our partners.
Our bodies are designed to mentally concentrate for a full 4.5 hours per day and we are averaging 7. We are stressing our bodies each day per week.
Given the above as a starting point, is it really any surprise that we see increased levels of disengagement, loneliness and stress?
It is often quoted that the young lack commitment to their jobs. Fair enough but modern online recruitment processes hardly do much to create any personal trust and relationship between employee and employer. It used to be an old truth that it was important to get the courtship right for without that the relationship would rarely grow. It is no different today.
We are therefore working on programmes that each month take a group of young talents outside of their comfort zones and experience something that challenges them in new ways
The modern process has built walls both to the external world and within internally which have created an unhealthy environment. How people blame the younger generations is maybe a bigger surprise as people have not changed that much in the last 400 years so would hardly do so more in 10-15.
Where the issue grows is that business culture has long been often self-orientated and the above changes have served to magnify its effects. In truth it is a little different bar there is a need to create new processes to change the existing landscape. We need to knock down some the walls that have been built.
Research tells us that 65% of those aged under 40 are risk-averse and anxious over failure. 34% are concerned about letting down their parents who have told them they are “special”. An increasing percentage suffer from the imposter syndrome and 20% do not feel they are good enough for the work environment. This is really sad and maybe the challenge is to build confidence into the young and free them of this clear self-doubt.
Over 35% of those aged under 40 do not believe they have a voice that is heard in the workplace; that they are viewed as a “jobber”, not as talent.
Whether by accident or through the process, the business has been failing in its duty to young talent.
It is important to somehow build confidence, sound judgement and some boldness back into the young leaders developing.
It is for this reason that we believe that future success needs to have a development programme that does test and nurture character, to developmental robustness. We are therefore working on programmes that each month take a group of young talents outside of their comfort zones and experience something that challenges them in new ways. This may be mental or physical. The aim of the programme is built around bringing together groups of people from different businesses to learn together, talk together and experience the new. We also have a series of great mentors who can work alongside young talent – from the worlds of sport, and business.
It really is not about cost or technical skills. It is about freeing up talent and young leaders to have a voice and built their own belief in both themselves and the world.
Change is needed.