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How to Cultivate the Upstander Generation

Cultivate The Upstander Generation

The Upstander Generation and How to Cultivate Them to Thrive as Your Employees

Millennials, what do they really want?

At a recent workshop, when senior leaders were asked their biggest concerns about workplace culture in 2021, one manager enquired about the skills to lead Millennial employees effectively. She asked, “What do they really want?”

There seems to be a lot of buzz and questions around creating a thriving workplace culture that is both effective and inclusive, but also satisfying to the new generation of tech savvy millennials.

But what defines a millennial? Are they really a generation that feels over privileged and want life served on a platter? 

Howe and Strauss define the Millennials as individuals born between 1982 and 2004. Also known as Generation Y or the Net Generation, they are the demographic that directly follows Generation X.

The Upstander Generation Driving the Future of Business

Millennials are the most significant generation since the baby boomers and now take up over 35% of the workforce. By 2030, 75% of the workforce will be made up of Millennials.

Millennials are usually seen as purpose-driven people, and thus prefer working in and managing more purpose-driven businesses.

An ‘upstanding generation,’ they value integrity and ethics in the workplace highly, and are driving the future of business. Meanwhile, Gen Z is following closely behind with similar values, preparing to enhance new workplace practices. As Millennials make the changes, Gen Z will grow up to respect and take part in the new world of work.

Leading this new generation requires change. However, since they are an upstanding generation, change is more than welcome. 

Why are Gen X and Y different?

In his studies on humanity, Yuval Noah Harari suggested that ‘a jumbo brain, is a jumbo drain.’ He further suggests that the humans’ race to excessive evolution has caused our consciences to lag behind compared to our intelligence. Thus, allowing concepts such as doubt and existentialism to creep in.

If these were concepts that we as humanity already struggled with, what has the rise in technology and our reliance upon it done to alter this. You guessed it–it has advanced us even further.

Put simply, our notions of place and identity are buffering behind our intelligence. As Gen Y and Z have been raised in such an environment, it seems only logical that they must change the environment to suit the new ‘post-human’ state that we have reached.

The Upstander Generation will change environments proactively, and for the benefit of all life.

Cultivate the Upstander Generation
The Myths about Millennials

The workplace is currently split between Gen X and Gen Y, each with contrasting views and values in the workplace and with misconceptions about one another’s visions and goals in work. So, what are the myths placed on our Millennial Generation?

  1. Younger generations have no work ethic.
  2. Millennials are not prepared to put in the hours to get ahead.
  3. Millennials have little respect for authority.
  4. Gen Y refuses to reach an expected level of maturity.
What has changed?

These are all easily de bunked with an explanation that cultural and societal expectations have changed as time has passed:

  1. Millennials were not raised to accommodate their work around others, but more to self-guide their work and ensure that they do their job in a way that they believe suitable.
  2. For younger employees, jobs are now less a centre point for life, and work mustn’t always lead to a passionate career path but more a means to live a comfortable life.
  3. Millennials are starting to learn that age and experience are not always prerequisites of respect, but actions such as loyalty, trust, benevolence and passion are.
  4. Maturity is a concept akin to the time period and is different for every generation. Around 200 years ago, women were married off to start a family at an age when they should still be learning at school. They were not allowed to drive or drink, and are still under the legal guidance of their parents. 
Cultivate the Upstander Generation
5 Keypoints to Leading Millennials:
1. Obtain

When recruiting Millennials, they are less focused on big salary bundles and more on the look, feel and vibe of an organisation. Culture is the key.

When Millennials are scanning the marketplace for their next job, how their potential employer portrays the overall experience of working for them is crucial.

TIP: Express the culture you currently have and outline how you wish to improve it. Also, define the kind of employee you are looking for to aid in this change. Millennials respect openness and honesty and are eager for change and to be a part of it.

2. Explain

Millennials (as well as all staff) want open and honest communication. They are brutally honest with each other and expect the same from their employer.

Millennials want to feel as though their opinion matters and that their insights are contributing to a bigger picture that is allowing the company to develop. Companies need to adopt a transparent communication policy.

For example, they might want to host a weekly drop-in session with the leadership team, where even the most junior staff can pose questions to the C-suite executives. Something that worked very well in my last role was closing the feedback loop. Alternatively, making 360 feedback the norm means that millennials not only receive honest feedback regularly, but are also empowered to dole it out.

TIP: Business leaders should walk around the office and build relationships on a deeper level. They should also create an open-door policy within and between teams.

Cultivate the Upstander Generation
3. Train

Growth and personal development are key.

Millennials want mentoring, and companies need to consider how they are going to provide mentoring to 50% of their workforce–fast. Introducing mentoring programmes early on for millennials who have just started in their job gives them hope from the outset that their employer truly prioritises their development.

Millennials crave knowledge. They’re used to having information at their fingertips, and thrive off processing it. Hence, if they’re not learning, they’re not developing. And if they’re not developing, then they’re going to start looking for a way out.

Millennials are likely to opt for opportunities to work and grow through social impact initiatives. Companies need to prioritise learning and, more importantly, upgrade how it happens.

Millennials don’t want formal lectures or a bunch of data hitting them in the face all at once. One example is KPMG’s three-year learning paths to provide technical, business and soft skill confidence delivered via a blended, flexible approach. It offers stackable learning options that are easy to get in and out of, continuous but also relaxed.

Leveraging modern technology that Millennials know and love through e-learning makes a huge difference. Why not deliver training via podcast or Facebook Live video instead? It conveys a message that work should be a natural and relaxed part of life, as any.

TIP: Check out the Upstand Academy micro learning for business success.

COVID-19 has of course altered this and made it even more temporal. Consider the changes in work environments to re-invent ways of communication and training to better suit the bulk of your workforce.

4. Maintain 

Millennials need the Right Manager. After all, people don’t leave a company, they leave a bad manager. They need a leader who celebrates wins and small successes and encourages growth from failure.

Millennials are now increasingly hoping for gratitude for small scale successes, which might usually be overlooked. Whilst big project milestones are generally celebrated, they also want to feel as though their day-to-day efforts are being noticed.

TIP: Rewards and recognition schemes, and peer on peer cards.

5. Retain 

Millennials demand balance and flexibility. Companies need to ingrain flexibility to foster an ‘anytime, anywhere’ work environment to replace the traditional 9-5 work schedule.

Opportunities such as being able to work from home one day a week, or being able to take time out from business days to deal with personal commitments are huge ticks in the box. They not only want security in their work, but also the knowledge that they are not trapped in their work.

TIP: Foster open communication about alternate ways of working to break away from the 9-5 work hours. Every workplace is different—see what works for you.

Cultivate the Upstander Generation
How to Lead Millennials Successfully?
  1. Invest in training and development for senior leaders (the dinosaur days of 9-5 work hours are already extinct). Creating a healthy culture starts from the top.
  2. Discuss the elephant in the room, also called bullying & harassment–and deal with it. Be proactive in preventing it and leave behind the days where complaints are swept under the rug.
  3. Be adaptable and agile. Value remote learning and working, and check out the Upstand Academy. 
  4. Encourage innovation and aid to build in-company entrepreneurs
  5. Incorporate reward and recognition into your employees’ lives.
  6. Encourage social impact initiatives. Be green and recycle ♻️.
  7. Value diversity and new norms.

If you’d like to talk more about the Tall Poppy Syndrome as a detriment to the Upstander Generation, find out how to arrange an Upstander Training at your business or book Jessica to deliver a compelling keynote please contact Jessica Hickman at jessica@jesshickman.com. 

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