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Mar 30

/ nic.at News - 30.03.2020 13:01
Millennials in the labour market: "We're on the brink of a systemic collapse"

Steffi Burkhart spoke at Domain pulse in Innsbruck about the millennial generation. The message: companies urgently need to reposition.

What makes the baby boomers stand out, and what makes the so-called millennials different? Steffi Burkhart, speaker and author, addressed these questions in her lecture "Scouting the talents of tomorrow: The thought process and world view of the millennial generation". And she drew a gloomy picture: "A battle for the best talents is beginning." Demographic change is becoming an ever greater problem. "We are facing a systemic collapse in business, administration and science," said Burkhart, who describes herself as a mouthpiece for the younger generation. The problem: "Companies often have only ossified structures and hierarchical thinking to counter this."

From baby boomers to the millennials
But what distinguishes the younger generation from the older generation? There are the baby boomers (born 1950 to 1965), who live by the motto: "First the work, then the pleasure." They are followed by Generation X (1966 to 1980), Generation Y (1981 to 1995) and finally Generation Z (from 1996). Young people value flexibility, appreciation and co-determination more highly than older people. "We must proactively involve the younger generation in decisions," says Burkhart. Environmental activist Greta Thunberg has already shown what young people can achieve. "The younger generation’s digitally influenced, networked way of thinking will have a lasting effect on the international economy."

The VUCA Reality
According to Burkhart, this networked way of thinking is necessary because our time is shaped by the so-called VUCA reality: VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambivalent. "The consequences of volatility can be seen in Greece, for example, where a lot of young talent is leaving the country because they see no prospects for themselves." According to the author, artificial intelligence and digitalization are accelerants added to these factors. "This is a new world that cannot be explained by textbook theories." Companies need to be more adaptable to volatility and complexity. Because: "65 percent of the jobs that Generation Z will be working in do not exist today." Above all, the so-called soft skills are important, such as teamwork, communication, empathy and creativity.

Three types of the young generation
Burkhart describes three types of millennials: digital users, digital experts and create ups. "Data leviathans like Amazon are already busy employing digital experts and create ups, who are often lateral thinkers." In Austria, Germany and Switzerland, on the other hand, many companies still react in the traditional way. "The rules of the game are changing massively, we need a new way of thinking and acting."

More women in decision-making positions
But what can companies do to secure talent? "Young people have to be taken seriously, the talent pools have to be filled up today and existing employees have to be given further training," says Burkhart. In addition, more room for experimentation is needed. "Microsoft tested the 4-day week and found an increase in productivity. We need more such experiments to find solutions to the problems of our time." But there is also a lack of diversity in terms of gender, nationality and age. In the IT sector, for example, women are underrepresented. "Why are the digital assistants called Alexa or Siri? There have to be more women in decision-making positions."

Young generation is more ‘disloyal’
Companies will have to become more attractive in the battle for employees, and also approach passive talents. "Employees are the clients of the HR department. A separate recruiting team for the tech department, for example, would make sense". The younger generation will change jobs about eight times, loyalty is not as powerful as for older generations. "That's why it's important to build a dependency package." Managers would also have to rethink. "What do we understand by good leadership? Today, a person in the team who manages their job well is promoted to manager, because it is assumed that they can lead well. This is a fallacy," says Burkhart. Leadership is not linked to a principle of seniority, but depends on the type of person. "We need more courage to try out new things. And if that courage isn't enough, it will cause damage in one place or another."


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