As the dawn of a new decade takes over, there will be a not so new force to be reckoned with in the workforce....millennials.  According to a recent EY study, in 2020 millennials will make up 50% of the US workforce while Gen Z, who have recently been garnering a lot of attention, will make up 7% of the workforce; giving this next gen talent combo a tremendous amount of influence. What does this shift to next generation talent mean for companies and their leaders?

The short answer: a lot.  

With as much discussion that was had around millennials and Gen Z's and their influence, it is ironic that most organizations have struggled to figure out how to effectively recruit, engage and retain next generation talent. These failures are going to create a major problem for individual organizations and the US economy as a whole in the coming decade.

Today, leaders often discuss the war for talent. However, this war is only expected to grow worse.  According to the Boston Consulting Group, there will be a massive global workforce shortage by 2030 which means we will begin to feel it's effects soon.  This shortage will make it even more important that companies be able to not only attract the right talent, but also, hold onto them for the long haul.  

  1. Leadership Shift 

As we have seen, recruiting, engaging and retaining next gen talent has been a struggle for most companies. In a recent conversation, Amanda Hammett, multi-generational strategist and podcast host, told me, "One of the most important investments an organization can make is not just cutting edge technologies like AI, but also in their people strategy --specifically in identifying and developing frontline leaders."These leaders are the ones who work daily with up-and-coming talent. They're the ones who ultimately make or break an employee's experience with a company.

Next generation talent knows they have options in the workforce. Those options will become even more pronounced as the decade progresses. Next generation talent do not have to work for a manager whose idea of leadership falls in line with the management style of decades past, strict authoritarian rule.  It's a novel idea, but developing frontline leaders to distinguish themselves from machines by doing something machines (at this point can't provide) empathy and appreciation can actually reap great rewards. When employees of all ages feel their leader cares for them as a human being and appreciates them (frequently), employees are more likely to do more than is asked and/or expected of them.  

  1. Diversity for Adaptability and Innovation

The impact of both the millennials and Gen Z's bring with them an inherent look at the overall leadership of our organizations. Next Gen talent is diverse. When Next Gen talent looks up your organization's ladder, do they see people that look like them?  Chances are, probably not. This, too, can signal an impending issue to corporate growth as outside economic and technological influences will require adaptability and change. The skills of the workforce will inevitably need to adapt and change as well. Diversity of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and experiences tends to bring a diversity of thought which drives innovation at all levels of a company. 

Being able to see and relate to things from another perspective will become increasingly important as company leaders innovate new ways to re-skill and up-skill the workforce to adapt to new economic demands. 

  1. Purpose Drives Profits

In research published by BCG, they found 67% of millennials expect their companies to have a purpose and their jobs to have a societal impact.  The greater impact of this research proves that next gen talent are not only making decisions with where they spend their money as consumers, but also with where they earn that money in the first place.  This shift will require organizations to think about more than the short-term quarterly earnings and begin to look a broader purpose that serves more than shareholders.  

We have known for years, that millennials and Gen Z's will change the world around us.  Many hoped that these sweeping changes didn't include the workplace. Luck for all of us, it does.  Now, as we enter a new decade, is the time to embrace the changes that are coming and marvel at all that is yet to come.