It's an issue surfacing in all corporate landscapes: How can companies get Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers to work well together, especially if the perception is that they all want different things?
If you've been following headlines, you may have seen that the topic is back is fashion, especially now in the US as the economy recovers and companies look to fill gaps in the workplace. Just last week, I stumbled on two recent stories on the topic while browsing for other news.
As these articles note, and PwC has found, the crossover between the young workers and the older ones is already happening and will continue to increase. Consider these points made in the stories and report cited above:
- In the US, there are now 80 million Millennials vs. 79 million Baby Boomers.
- PwC estimated that by 2016, roughly 80 percent of its own workforce will be Millennials. It won't be long before many other companies have a similar workforce profile.
The supply chain is not going to be immune to this trend either. Filter the above data through these stats from a study done last year by the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and you can begin to see how big the generational gap is and how supply chain professionals and corporate management will have to find workarounds very soon.
A report titled The Logistics of Education and Education of Logistics, using stats from the US Department of Labor, indicates that the US alone — not counting other international hubs — will have approximately 270,200 logistics-related job openings that will need to be filled every year through 2018 to keep up with projected industry growth. The flip side is that the study revealed despite an increasing number of schools offering supply chain degrees, US vocational schools, colleges, and universities are only producing about 75,280 formally trained, degreed, or certified workers a year qualified for those jobs. How are companies in various sectors going to fill the remaining 195,000 open supply chain jobs?
It won't be easy, and clearly one of the biggest hurdles lies in understanding how people from different generations and cultural backgrounds want to work today, how they want to be enabled to work in more productive ways, and how these factors will shift over time.
From where I'm standing, as a 41-year-old who is neither a Millennial nor a Baby Boomer, but rather from that other group rising up the workplace ranks (Generation X) I have to believe there is a way to weave together the strengths of each generation and develop new strategic supply chain advantages. That said, I can't add with any confidence that I have a silver bullet solution or even a working concept how such a strategy could be stitched together into a full-functional plan, but I'm going to throw something out there.
We know three important things:
- Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have supply chain wisdom embedded in their DNAs because of their many years of in-field experience.
- Millennials are technology's love children, practically born attached to mobile phones, gaming devices, and laptops always connected to the Internet.
- Nearly everyone these days wants flexibility so they can achieve a good work-life balance.
If we started with those three elements, perhaps the conversation would shift from talking about how different people seem to be to how sage experience, technological know-how, and versatility could work in harmony.
Of course, that's only my perspective. What's yours?