Monday, 8 january 2018 | Redacción CEU
In the middle of a complete technological transformation, most companies learn in a forced way to deal with the changes that brings the Generation Y disembark in their offices. The coexistence between three different generations with noticeable particularities is not easy. When they thought that the scenario could not be more complex, companies begin to realize that new changes are coming. They have barely learned to know what the millennials are and new actors appear on the scene, they are the known as centennials. This is a generation of young people that now reach the legal age and could again disrupt the rules of the working world. Can the Gen Z breakthrough change the working model? Is it possible to adapt the working environment to four generations of workers? How to manage this intergenerational talent?
Pedestrians have never hit with so many streetlights like now. Cellphones accompanies passers-by at every step. Getting lost is no longer an option. They can always verify the correct route with a GPS navigator. Students attend the university classes with tablets and laptops. If they do not understand a lesson, they can always look for a tutorial on the Internet. All they need to find a good restaurant in an unknown city is a click. Friends who live in different parts of the world have conversations daily through instant messaging. In the concerts, the smartphones' screens replace the lighters' flames and posts in social networks, phone calls. But, none of this gets anyone's attention anymore. The new normality is now digital and companies need to adapt as quickly as possible to this reality.
But not all companies can change their habits overnight, nor do all employees adapt to them. The digital transformation of companies also implies the management of the generational diversity present in them. Four different profiles coexist in a constantly changing work environment. Baby boomers, generation X, millennials and, now, centennials are part of this new professional scenario in which everyone has their own work view. The challenge that companies face is great. Although the changes take place in very short periods of time, the HR departments of the companies have to start thinking differently and answer new questions: How to adapt the organization structures so that nobody is left out? How to reach that four generations live together and work in harmony?, How to achieve the full integration?
As the Spanish saying goes: "¿No querías caldo? ¡Pues toma dos tazas!". That means if you are scared of something, prepare because it is going to be worse. If companies already had a difficult scenario, this gets a little more complicated. Although at the beginning there was not much difference between millennials and centennials, analysts have perceived noticeable differences between them. This implies that generational diversity is even more pronounced than what they previously believed. The good news is that the more different and varied the workers profiles are, the richer will be the organization’s structure. This Gen Z arrival not only implies the need to change, it also constitutes a great opportunity for companies.
While millennials witnessed the change from the analog to the digital world, centennials are the first digital native generation. Counting on the talent of this young people can be key when adapting companies to this new digital scenario that is so frightening in some occasions. The rest of professionals of other ages do not have to interpret their arrival as a threat, but being open to learn from them, because they want it or not, the environment will change. On the other hand, the Gen Z does not have the experience of the rest and although, digitally, they keep an ace up their sleeve, they still have much to learn.
Centennials are those young people who were born between 1994 and 2009. Their oldest members are now twenty-four years old. They constitute the 25.9% of the world's population and are coming into the global labor market right now. Something that characterizes them is that they have learned to socialize through technology. Therefore, their way of communicating is different from the rest of generations. They are always connected. They are aware of that the environment that surrounds them is not ideal, they have grown in a crisis and have lost a point of illusion with respect to the predecessor generation.They do not worry much about the possession of goods, they believe more in the provision of services, hence the rise of the formulas on which the sharing economy develops.
As workers, these young people are less demanding and more pragmatic than the millennials, although they demand freedom and flexibility and want to be responsible for their own projects. Mobility is not a problem for them, they do not believe in presenteeism, they value degrees less, they rely more on self-learning and they are attracted to the entrepreneurship idea. They are also capable of performing several tasks at the same time. Experts say that their character is irreverent and that they are more likely to question the hierarchy. Technology has increased their interest in the immediate, that makes them more impatient workers and, therefore, they have a hard time waiting for answers.
Like all generations, centennials also enter the labor market wanting to eat the world and even to change it. Boomers, members of Generation X and millennials can learn a lot from the younger generation, but experience is a degree. The companies and, specifically, the Human Resources departments must work so that the organization gears complements and enriches thanks to their differences and the promotion of their strengths. Boomers have an extensive experience, great involvement and skills outside the digital world. Generation X serves as an intergenerational bridge, understands the veterans' values, is responsible and has a wider mind. Millennials have big aspirations, they are the first technological generation, the change stars. They open the way to centennials, the natives of the digital world. The future and the keys to this digital transformation are both theirs.
The management of generational diversity is essential for companies to successfully face the changes they face and for their heterogeneous structure to work as well as possible. Its good management, facilitates teamwork, enhances the skills and knowledge of each worker, favors the commitment of employees and provides competitiveness. Among the keys that the experts point out to achieve an inter-generational integrative culture, the following ones stand out:
Generational diversity brings added value to companies. Those ones who get to know how to encourage harmony among their most different members, will also be the ones who best face challenges and take advantage of their strengths. Welcome centennials!