Brain Drain Solutions Part 1: What Business Needs To Do For YPs
In Iowa, we are in trouble. We know the statistics, we know the consequences, but we haven't talked enough about the solutions. If business is serious about finding & keeping quality young professionals it must do the following:
1. Cut the Crap. The excuses are immense and it's a display of power, but often when I hear some professionals refer to young professionals they do so in a quite condescending tones that belittle their experiences and perspectives. The rationale is often that "we were all 'that age' and therefore naive once." However, one thing that is overlooked is their experiences are different then yours, not better, not more important - just different. Imagine growing up in elementary school with the Oklahoma City bombing, then going into junior high with the Columbine shooting, then high school with 9-11, then college with the Virginia Tech massacre. Each generation has their own unique experiences that shape their identity are therefore must not be dismissed.
2. Wonder Why. There is an opportunity to use the comparing and contrasting of your experiences and their experience to better understand how to appropriately position workers to maximize their potential. In the areas where there are differences, we need to know why. If you don't know, the only way to know is to ask. According to the 2008 Ranstad World at Work Survey, the areas that have the most varying perspectives between generations are also the ones that tend to be the most needed and require the most consensus: leadership, respect, work ethic, purpose. Do we spend time discussing the reasoning behind these points? Do we spend time discussing seeking to understand how these young employees came to their own conclusions? What we may find out is some may have no clue why themselves, which creates an opportunity to have them investigate their own reasoning, which may lead to a clearer focus on work task.
3. Rely on Relationship. Understanding "why" allows the working world to do the integral part of building open meaningful relationships with young professionals. As much as we don't want to admit it, the working world has changed. The American dream to many young professionals is connected with balance rather than success, collaboration is more important that management to this group. Young professionals see the working world more like a circle rather than a line. With many in this new generation being guided by helicopter parents that hover over their now-adult kids every decision, it is important that businesses see the value in providing meaningful opportunities for this generation to learn from the wisdom workers in the workforce looking to renegotiate their own working relationship over the course of a generation. Mentoring, internships, and apprenticeships, endear both the new worker and the old to an opportunity of building a true relationship that respects the other, allows for questioning and builds potentially strong bonds.
Young professionals are not off the hook, they also have a responsibility that they must take on. We'll cover that in my next post.