Future talent must be at the heart of people, planet and profit strategies

22nd November by Gina Lodge

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Recent events have opened a dialogue for all organisations where the power structure between employee and employer is on a new footing. We find ourselves having to make work more meaningful, purposeful and thoughtful. Not just because we face a climate crisis, but because we need to raise the game when it comes to our people management practices, too.

Best practice in human capital management is climbing the investor’s agenda, and it is also now a firm generational demand. We need to take a new view on accountability and values and give serious consideration to how we can continue to attract the best and brightest of the talent joining the workforce.

There are 10 million young people reaching working age every month. By 2025, those born since 1997 will account for over a quarter of the working population. But here is the fly in the ointment. Fewer than half of them see businesses as a force for good, and that jeopardises the talent pipeline of tomorrow’s managers, leaders and individual contributors.

We must make work more enticing for those future hires who will come from Generation Z and Generation Alpha. They are the first truly global age groups to have been shaped by the 21st century, who are engaged through social media and connected as digital natives. They will expect and demand a workplace where we work alongside each other with shared respect and understanding.

Those younger workers who are already in the workplace have been called “Generation Covid” because they have been most likely to have faced cuts to their earnings, education and employment prospects. However, many of them have also proven to be resilient and resolute and have come through the pandemic with their unwavering belief intact that individuals have the power to create change.

As leaders and employers here in the present, it is our responsibility to start making that change happen. If we are to continue attracting the highest-calibre talent, we need to be serious about designing organisational cultures where we can focus their determination and help co-create the future they seek.

This younger generation wants organisations to step up and put ESG (environmental, social and governance) concerns at the very core of how business is conducted. They are also petitioning us for better ethical practices, with diversity, equity and inclusion needing to be top of the corporate agenda.

Multiple studies tell us that young workers wish for managers and leaders who care about their wellbeing, who hear them and who value their contribution to the organisation they work for. As Gallup puts it, “Respect and recognition matter from every direction — peers, managers, policies, systems and leaders.”

We also know that the nature of work is going to continually change as technology reshapes how jobs are done. Youth today are going to hold a multitude of careers as a result and will require us to actively invest in their career growth. We must help them develop skills that will support their growth as people and as professionals. Learning must be relevant and actionable, and coaching and practical experiences can be an excellent means of enabling them to reskill or upskill as needed.

Human capital must be on every organisation’s investment agenda because young people are leaving education and don’t always have the necessary soft skills required to flourish in the workplace. They may have finished school or university, but in joining the world of work they will need to be on a path of immersive, continuous learning to build their strengths, adaptability and resilience.

As Deloitte writes, younger generations hold true to their ideals and demand accountability. They will lean into their values when it comes to making their career choices, and it is our responsibility to ensure that businesses now become more socially answerable to them and the consumer. Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the world as we knew it and the focus must now be on organisations working directly with government and education to deliver a legacy of hope and opportunity for these upcoming generations. Their call is our calling.

A huge thanks to our friends at Forbes.com for allowing us to share this article. As seen on Forbes.com, this content originally appeared here.