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How to unlock the potential of generations in this unique time

It is an exciting (and challenging!) time to be a people leader in organizations large and small. You’re tasked with navigating return-to-work, permanent hybrid, tech innovation, the Great Resignation, and so much more. At the same time, one trend continues to grow in importance and is only getting more urgent to accurately navigate: connecting across generations.  

For the first time ever, there are five different generations in the workforce. That’s right, five! The generations range from Generation Z, the newest entrants, to Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and all the way up to the Traditionalists. I know all five generations are in the workforce because not only are they represented in the workforce data we receive from clients, but they’re also all in my audience at the events and conferences I speak at. It is a very exciting time to study generations.  

At our research firm, The Center for Generational Kinetics, our passion is studying each generation to separate generational myth from truth and drive workforce results.  

Based on our research and work with leaders around the world, from recruiters to CEOs and corporate boards, I wanted to share three quick insights about generations that I think are timely given everything going on in the world and workforce today:  

  1. Generations are clues, not a box.
    This is one of the most important insights when it comes to working with and leading different generations. By viewing generations as clues and not a box we see this field of research as providing leaders with a head start to make connections faster, build trust, and drive results.  
  2.  Studying generations besides our own helps us to empathize with and understand how to best adapt to unlock the best each generation brings.
    This is not about catering or coddling different generations, but rather understanding their worldview, natural relationship with technology, and more to best engage them. Each generation brings their own unique perspective and ideas, and studies show that a diverse workforce has a very positive impact on business success.   
  3. We are now in an era of continuous transformation—and we’re not going back to the way it was before. 
    For employers, this extends into how they engage with existing and potential talent. Employers can’t keep doing the same things they have been doing for the past five to ten years and expect to see success. Every employer, including our own company, will have to embrace looking at new ways of doing things, from recruiting and retention to communication and engaging talent.  

In this era of the Great Resignation, candidates have more choices when it comes to work than ever before. Every company wants to hire and retain a qualified and diverse workforce. If you’re not leveraging automation to bring in employees quickly and easily, then you’re going to get left behind. We expect to see this trend continue and expand in 2022 so it’s important to ensure you have the right tools now to drive success.  

In short, this is an incredibly exciting, innovative time to be a people leader and on the frontlines of building great workforces. Because of that, your job has never been more important. On behalf of all the people like me, who count on and are inspired by leaders like you, thank you for what you do! We are grateful for you.  

Jason Dorsey has keynoted Connections, twice. He is the bestselling author of Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business and a renowned generations speaker and researcher. You can learn more about him at JasonDorsey.com.  

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