As we embark on a new year, we decided to look at how company culture in 2021 is coming into vision. There are a number of areas where culture is evolving. New generations entering and moving up in the workforce, connectivity in and out of the office, and redefining how we work together are some important areas of evolution.
We’ll get to Millennials in a moment, but first, we now see generation Z entering the workforce in large numbers. As a group, they are larger than the millennial generation. They are even more tech savvy and have higher expectations of digital experiences. As digital natives that grew up with wi-fi everywhere and smartphones in everyone’s hands, they can’t understand why they can’t access information on any topic immediately from any device.
Much like the generation before them, making a positive impact on the world around them is important. Companies will be wise to apply the learnings from Millennials to generation Z. The expectation that companies do the right thing combined with shorter attention spans requires companies to engage with them in both creative and technical ways.
As baby boomers continue to move into retirement at record numbers, Millennials are beginning to fill in the gap in management roles. As we know, their beliefs are different from those that came before them. As the first digital native generation, they are synonymous with the sharing economy. They are about access over ownership. They never owned stacks of DVDs or CDs since they could stream their entertainment choices online at any time.
Millennials in leadership positions keep up with technology advancements and expect their employees to do the same. They also have a strong moral compass and use it at work. They are more focused on social outcomes than on revenue or profit goals. They also expect constant feedback on their performance. This group is going to redefine leadership over the next decade.
One leadership area we are already seeing that is different is decision making. The speed at which we operate in today’s business environment requires executives to make decisions faster and without all of the information. This approach started in the technology sector, where the idea of “fail faster” originated. The goal is getting products and services to market quickly, even if there are still some questions, instead of waiting months or more to get it perfect. This allows end-user feedback to happen more quickly so the company can iterate and improve on a product or service in near real-time. It also means traditional hierarchical organizational structures are now outdated.
Some refer to this new leadership approach as sense and respond. Leaders should focus on customer experiences and feedback to inform their product development team. The impact on culture is a change in how companies innovate. Instead of investing time and resources to get every department to buy into an idea, organizations are moving to flatter structures to enable faster decision making.
Another area that is affecting culture is connectedness enabled by technology. It’s creating a plethora of benefits for employees. Chat and video conferencing tools like Slack and Zoom allow those who previously would not have been able to work, to maintain full time employment status. A great example is those who are disabled and those with chronic illnesses. Another benefit for companies and employees alike is the ability for those who live in remote areas to be considered for roles in cities far away. Often these employees can’t move or don’t want to move. Yet their skills may keep them in demand and with today’s options, companies get highly qualified individuals while the employees get rewarding work opportunities previously unavailable to them.
Lastly, team development is becoming as important as individual development. This is yet another aspect of the importance of developing soft skills. Improved communication and partnering skills can drive stronger outcomes.
If you have questions on how to build the culture at your company or would like help redefining your culture, send us a note. Our recruiters in Denver, Chicago, Seattle and St. Louis are ready to help you attract and retain the next generation of talent to realize your goals.