‘OK Boomer’, a current phrase used a lot by the younger generation to mock the attitudes of the Baby Boomer generation, has exploded on social media over the past few months. It’s a phrase that, for me, is disappointing to hear or read as I know for sure that casting a negative generalisation over a group of people is unjust. Yet as a society we love to use these ‘Generation’ labels to group people born in a particular period.
The groups in focus for me are the Generation Y and Millennials who are overridingly seen as being ‘tech savy’ and have been brought up on social media as a way of life. A very different upbringing from their Boomer parents.
Recently, I was in the privileged position of being involved in a podcast on the subject of what Gen Y and Millennials want from their employers post COVID-19. I was pleased to hear that all of the panel’s thoughts were very much aligned in terms of what their experiences during COVID-19 were, and what they expect in the aftermath. Missing the human connection of being in an office, enjoying the lack of commute and achieving a better work life balance came across loud and clear.
But what about moving forward, what can we learn from the last few months?
Well, a big theme that was consistent was choice. Giving employees the choice of working environments is what Gen Y and Millennials want. Gone are the days of a structured office working day, indeed we have seen a number of high-profile businesses close down offices recently as they adjust for the future. The message has come across loud and clear, people in the insurance profession can work from home effectively for the vast majority of roles. But it’s not just working from home. The future will see employees choosing to pop into the office a couple of days a week as well. Offices still have their place as a central hub and for people to get that social interaction which they have missed during lockdown.
Another key point is the support that employers provide their staff. Mental health has been severely impacted during the lockdown. Demonstrating that they care about their people will be an important factor for future employees when deciding where to work. Larger organisations have employee support programmes in place, is this something that can become widespread throughout the profession?
Attracting Gen Y and Millennials will require investment in technology to appeal to the best talent available. Technology is going to be massive in how businesses interact with the customer and being a customer-focussed profession, but it will also play a huge part in appealing to the workforce of the future. I said at the start that Gen Y and Millennials are tech-savvy, so it’s safe to say they want to work with efficient, smart and effective tools and systems in their day-to-day role. Taking this a step further, having the brightest and best would put a business in a great position to go from strength to strength commercially as well.
To sum up, can the profession learn from the last few months of lockdown to attract Gen Y and Millennials? Yes, absolutely it can. However, it has to listen and understand what people want. I regularly hear about getting customer feedback, innovating with the customer in mind and adjusting to what customers want. Yet the same is true for employees as well. Earlier in the year I wrote an article about reverse mentoring. Never has there been a more perfect time to create a structured feedback loop with the expressed objective to evolve as an employer to remain relevant in a time of great change.