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It's Not About Birth Year, It's About Mindset

Recently, I was interviewed by Independent Dealer Magazine regarding how independent office dealers are working through the challenges of recruiting millennials, and how to structure your company culture to retain them. As I prepared for the interview, I found myself asking the question, “Do these challenges apply only to millennials, or do they apply to the workforce in general?”

Shortly thereafter, I attended the Nebraska SHRM State Conference and heard Cara Silletto give a keynote speech titled “They’re Tough to Understand.” I thought the “they” she was referring to were millennials. As I listened to Silletto’s presentation, it soon became apparent that she wasn’t talking just about millenials; she was talking about employees in general. At the end of the presentation, she said “It’s not about birth year, it’s about mindset.”

After much pondering, I realized that the millennial generation isn’t that much different than the generations before them. My parents instilled in me the meaning of hard work, but that didn’t mean they didn’t value family time (better known today as work-life balance).

Instead what has happened is that the world around us has changed. Consider these two areas:

Think about the way different generations listened to music. Baby Boomers started with the radio as children and then advanced to records. Records dominated their lives. I was born in 1976 and cassettes had taken over. Options began to appear more rapidly. Music advanced to CDS only to be overtaken by MP3 players. Remember Napster? Now, music can now be downloaded via apps on our phone and streamed live. These rapid-fire options left today’s employees far more comfortable with change.

Divorce peaked in the 1980s. Many employees of the millennial generation were part of that experience. Job layoffs are common in today’s world. My mother who recently retired from 30 years with the federal government went through a reduction in force twice in which she lost her job. The internet bombards us with more options than we can even fathom. I don’t need a new vehicle today, but with a click of a button I could have hundreds of options to choose from. Divorce, RIFS, internet options….. Loyalty isn’t automatic anymore in our lives and across our entire employment base.

The changing workforce isn’t all about millennials. While the world around us has changed, employees of every era have wanted work-life balance, flexibility, and a great coach leading the team. Remember, as you and your company considers the challenges in the workforce today, it’s not about birth year, it’s about mindset.