Over the years in my career as an HR professional, I have been lucky to witness lots of changes in HR practices, especially in the context of Nepal. The changes have ranged from HR function being very trivial to it being a pivotal one. The change is even in the way companies give importance to the system rather than an individual. Companies are now more emphasizing the policies and processes than ever before, and decisions are taken based on the process/system than on hunch.
The changes are rife and there have been lots of changes even in the expectation of employees as time progressed. When I started my career almost 2 decades back, people were more or less stable in their job and their growth ambition too was more or less stable. The situation now has changed drastically with people willing to take more risks and experiment with their careers. This phenomenon is typically visible in the new generation of workforces entering into the job market. The way expectations and ambitions of young entrants are getting shaped is pretty interesting and at the same time, it’s pretty challenging from the management point of view.
The challenge for management along with HR professionals not only emerges from the fact that this dynamic younger generation of the workforce is entering into the market but also because multi-generations of the workforce are working alongside. Each generation of the workforce comes with different sets of attitudes and ambition levels and catering to these different needs becomes quite demanding. We need to be able to feel the pulse of every generation in order to have them engaged every moment.
At present, there are at least 4 generations of workforce with different sets of attitudes working alongside which brings lots of complexity along with its own unique beauty. The multi-generations at workforce are as below:
- The Silent Generation (born 1925 to 1945; loyal but traditional)
- Baby boomers (1946 to 1964; collaborative but averse to change)
- Generation X (1965 to 1980; independent but bleak)
- Millennials (1981 to 2000; driven but entitled)
- Generation Z (2001 to 2020; progressive but disloyal)
As can be seen from the above depiction that each set of generations comes with its own unique traits. Typically, in today’s organizational setting, most of the decision-makers are either Baby Boomers or Generation X and few Millennials making into this range whilst most of the team members are either Generation X or Millennials with few Generation Z officially making it into the workforce. Diversity in the traits of each generation makes the team very interesting.
With the entry of newer generations of the workforce and their ambition level very high; they expect relatively quick reward more so in terms of career success making it highly challenging for us to manage and retain them effectively. This also becomes a big challenge given the fact that most of the organizations have their own sets of systems and aligning the goal of this newer generation with the goal of the organization becomes a truly herculean task. The beauty of a multigenerational workforce is the fact that it brings lots of diversity to the workplace and gives us huge scope to take advantage of it.
The challenge for us to manage and take advantage of these multigenerational workforces arises owing to the fact that competition is very high. For us, there is only one way and that is to become highly productive and “Succeed” continuously. A high level of productivity requires highly engaged employees with a very high level of motivation. A high level of automation in everything that we do has required us to be different and better than the competitors and for this, we will need to carefully nurture and kindle the creative side of our workforce to outshine the crowd.
While we try to manage this multigenerational workforce, one key mantra for us to manage is to closely watch for “Performance and Potential”. Often time while assessing the employees, we might get swayed/confused in between performance and potential and in doing so we are not completely wrong. This is also due to the fact that it is only natural for us to get influenced by the ones who constantly deliver as our success largely depends on the performance of these employees. Needless to say, for continuous success, both sets of employees are required. However, it is the people with high potential and also are high performers who are the ones going to be the “Future Leaders” and create a distinct space for the organization. Hence, it is of paramount importance that we are able to differentiate between performance and potential because it is these people with potential who are going to get us through the storm.
Karki is an HR professional.