The baby boomers lived life to the full. The millennials are more diverse and will build a brave new world

As all will know the millennial generation has attracted much criticism. Whether it is fair or not is pretty irrelevant – it is the next generation and they do see the world through different eyes just as the baby boomers did – the social revolution of the 60s and 70s changed much just as the business leaders that came through to lead in the 90s and 00s. It was an exciting, vibrant generation that has really lived life to the full, built wealth and been freer than any previous generation before them.

By Chris Sheppardson, Managing Director, EP

That is something to be proud of but the millennials are different. They are less robust but have kinder eyes towards the world. They seem to arguably believe in a higher set of principles and values than the baby boom generation have shown at times. They are more tolerant, more accepting and have a belief in both diversity and sustainability.

Both generations are very different and both have their own stories to tell but interestingly it will mean different business environments.

When one looks back at the story of the baby boomers who will be portrayed as the leading icons of the generation – Clinton? Blair? The Rolling Stones? The Beatles? The collapse of the Berlin Wall? Sir Philip Green? Sir Richard Branson? Simon Cowell? Kevin Keegan? It is not hard to note that all the key players were predominantly white, male (yes Mandela and Obama have been important but since 2000) and all were arguably characters who took risk and built their own stories. They were people who have been controversial at times and lived life to the full.

The bets are on that the next generation will be very different and far more diverse – multi- race, multi gendered and this will impact on the work environment in arguably a very positive way as it will open doors to many that have not felt included or central. The baby boomers have laid the ground and the millennials, despite all the criticism they have taken, will build a brave new world. It could be the the millennials will create genuine diversity in society, create greater progress on climate change, create new sustainability programmes and generate maybe even a less fractured, tense world - but this is all to be seen.

The challenge for business and society is that the structures that have worked well in the 70s, 80s, 90s and even 00s are clearly not right for the now and tomorrow. Membership bodies are generally struggling to retain membership – so are professional institutes and many of the structures are fighting to retain their position and influence in a world that is changing at increasing speed.

There is an effective new advert appearing on TV highlighting the fact that 1:4 are suffering from mental health issues and this is, of course, a concern but simply highlights that the structures are not right and need change. It is clear that all support structures need to change how they behave and think for it isn’t working. The next generation promises much but we need to work out why we are losing- or harming – so much talent during their younger years. It is almost the reverse the baby boomers who could not wait to live life and experience everything; the next generation is less aggressive and robust and we need to adapt the structures to this.

“The next decade will be the transitional period between generations as the baby boomers will finally be leaving the stage and that brave new world will start to take shape.”

All areas need to review what is working and what isn’t. There will be bodies that are dying a death by a thousand cuts that will need to change or close. What the above issue suggests very loudly is that the most key missing piece of the jigsaw is training that focuses on the mind as this is the area that clearly needs most work.

The next decade will be the transitional period between generations as the baby boomers will finally be leaving the stage and that brave new world will start to take shape – so let’s work to lay the ground for the change that is needed.