Wow! It is inspiring to see the uproar of activism from our children in response to the latest school shooting, yet embarrassing that this younger generation feels that they need to take action because we cannot. As survivor David Hogg reminds us all, “We’re children. You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role.” It looks like this young generation isn’t going to wait for the adults to take action.
These protests are providing an interesting message to companies regarding the workforce of the future. Our future workforce has shown a fierce drive; they are not going to sit back and accept outdated policies and thinking that fail to protect their rights, fail to make the world a better place, and fail to offer a safe environment for them to be themselves and to grow as individuals. They are not going to tolerate managers who don’t treat them respectfully, who don’t react urgently, or who are not strong enough to stand up and support them. They are going to change, or maybe even save, the world.
There is so much conversation about how millennials are changing the workplace but Generation Z, who are already circulating in our workforce, are going to be powerful game changers. Companies need to look at their culture and what they stand for now because Gen Z is going to expect employers to provide purpose and have a positive voice when it comes to social awareness and rights.
Managers can forget about trying to use their title and position to push agendas and force work to get done. If you thought millennials challenged managements’ thinking, then get ready for the Zs to take ineffective managers to task.
By the way: watch how the threat of punishment for students who participate in next month’s walkout fails. If you are going to use positional power and threats to make this group do what you want them to do, you are completely missing what makes them tick. This generation wants to be treated with respect and supported in their efforts, not threatened that they can’t do something. Outdated thinking and attitudes aren’t going to cut it anymore.
Rather than complaining ad nauseam about the younger generations as we have with the millennial workforce, managers and companies need to get ready for the future, which means getting their shit together when it comes to their company culture and how they treat and interact with their employees.
Enjoy this glimpse into the future because it’s going to be a hell of a ride.