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Meet Gen Y: Five videos, ten minutes and a lot of insight

Meet Gen Y: Five videos, ten minutes and a lot of insight

Raymond de Villiers is TomorrowToday’s Gen Y guru. He works hard to understand today’s young people, and then make sense of them for you and me and our businesses. He’s packaged some of his insights into short “thought bullet” videos that I am sure will be valuable to you. Here are a few of my favourites (if you can’t see the videos embedded, just click the titles for a link to YouTube):

Meet Gen Y, and the two key forces that have shaped their world, and them:

Here’s a slightly longer extract of an hour long talk Raymond did recently on generations, in which he introduced Gen Y:

My favourite label for this generation actually helps to make sense of them: Digital Natives:

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Recent media mentions

Recent media mentions

Graeme Codrington has appeared in the media a few times in recent weeks. Here is a sampling of his contributions:

Speaking on Gen Y at the British Hospitality Association annual convention, Graeme focused attention on the impact that a younger generation is having on an industry that needs to employ significant numbers of young people to succeed. His presentation and contribution to a panel discussion was captured in the June/July 2014 edition of Hospitality Today (page 24-25): read it online here.

Graeme spoke at an Extended Knowledge Conference for Baloise Insurance Group in Germany recently. Here is a summary of the session.

Graeme was recently interviewed on CapeTalk 567 radio, on how to future-proof our children. Listen to the 15 minute interview on SoundCloud here.

A number of the TomorrowToday team have been featured on yourBusinessChannel’s Inside Finance TV channel. See their briefings videos here. We especially like the video on “Blowing Industries Apart”.

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The 10 Most Important Work Skills in 2020

Last week I was sent a link to an interesting infographic on the ten most important work skills in 2020. It is a graphic respresentation of research done by the University of Phoenix and the Institute for the Future (see their PDF report here). What I like about this is that the team that put it together has looked at the significant drivers of change in society and then worked out what work skills will be required to address these.

It’s a thought provoking read for parents, educators and businesses alike. Whilst none of the skills listed are really new, the emphasis is on their growing importance. The timeline is only 6 years away anyway, and so the focus was not on new skills but on what is becoming vital for success right now in our workplaces. You can find the infographic here, and a summary of their points below.

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The Potential – and Problems – of Being Generation X

March 24, 2014 Graeme Codrington Generation X and Y, Generations, Talent, Video No Comments
The Potential – and Problems – of Being Generation X

Generation Xers are becoming middle aged. And some of them are not doing it in style. They’re also causing some chaos in their workplaces with their emphasis on family, flexibility and their own goals above those of their companies. In this brief video, I outline some of the potential – and problems – of being a Gen Xer:

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Five secrets for engaging and retaining Gen Y talent

February 5, 2014 Dean van Leeuwen Generation X and Y, Generations, Talent, The workplace No Comments
Five secrets for engaging and retaining Gen Y talent

Studies show that the current crop of Gen Y talent,  will have had up to 12 different jobs and the majority of Gen Y professional graduates  (doctors, engineers, architects lawyers etc.) will no longer be working in their chosen career of study having had up to three career changes. Overall ninety-one percent of Gen Y’s expect to stay in a job for less than three years

All this job hopping madness means big headaches for talent managers and heads of HR after all  losing an employee after a year or two, means wasting precious time and resources on training and development,  before that investment pays off. Our research at TomorrowToday has identified five things your company can do to attract and retain top Gen Y talent. Our work around the world and engagement with thousands of senior leaders every years enables us to gain an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of this job-hopping “slacker” generation and we always dive deep when we discover a company that is keeping both Gen Y and Gen X talent for seven years or more. Here are the secrets to keeping and engaging Gen Y talent:

1) Forget vision and mission. What is your quest? Story-telling is increasingly important leadership skill and Gen Y want to know the story behind what your company really stands for.  If they are going to spend the majority of their waking lives working for you, what they do and what the company does has to be meaningful in a broader more societal context.

Now most businesses have a vision or mission that looks something like this:

To be the leader…selling the best…delivering  outstanding service… commitment to profit maximisation to our shareholders…being the most efficient in everyth… blah blah blah blah blah  YAWN!

At which stage you have bored every Gen Y employee to death and they have already redeployed their curriculum vitae. However, If you want to capture the mind, heart and engagement of talented Gen Y you need to appeal to their sense of spirit, their sense of adventure and most importantly their cohort’s driving sense of contributing to causes that have meaning in the world.

As the French adventurer and novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupery said:

“If you want to build a flotilla of ships, you don’t sit around talking about carpentry. No, you need to set people’s souls ablaze with visions of exploring distant shores.”

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The Year of the Employee: Forbes’ predictions for 2014 talent, leadership and HR tech

The Year of the Employee: Forbes’ predictions for 2014 talent, leadership and HR tech

Ian Turner, one of Duke CE’s top MD’s and leadership development programme experts gets credit for finding this interesting article and sending it on to me. There are some fascinating thoughts in Deloittes’ predictions for 2014, published in Forbes, as they suggest that this will be an important year for talent, leadership and HR.

Read the full article here.

As they point out, based on a Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends survey they’re just completing, “the top two people issues facing organizations in 2014 are leadership and retention. These are the problems we face in a dynamic, growing global economy…. This year, for the first time in more than five years, employees are in charge. Companies have reduced costs, restructured, rationalized spending, and pushed people to work harder than ever. More than 60% of organizations tell us one of their top is dealing with “the overwhelmed employee. This year the power will shift: high-performing employees will start to exert control.”

Their top ten predictions are:

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Booz & Co’s Strategy+Business Best Business Blogs of 2013

Booz & Co’s Strategy+Business Best Business Blogs of 2013

The editor of Booz & Co’s Strategic+Business magazine and blog site selected his favourite business blogs of 2013. I like this list a lot – there’s some really valuable articles here. It’s an eclectic list, but well worth taking some time to read through and share with your team:

Susan Cramm: Retaining Top Talent: Yes, It Really Is All about Them
If you want to retain your high-potential employees, you have to get involved in helping them plan their careers.

Ken Favaro: Is Strategy Fixed or Variable?
Successful strategists understand that their role is to manage a process fraught with contradictions.

Sally Helgesen: The Three Habits of Highly Effective Demotivators
Surefire tips for stamping out morale and making sure you get the least out of your employees.

Nick Hodson and Thom Blischok: What if Clay Christensen Is Right about the Grocery Business (and Amazon Is Wrong)?
The disruptive influences of e-commerce may finally be setting their sights on the grocery industry.

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Five New Year’s Resolutions Every Leader Should Make (HBR Blog)

As we head into a new year, an article on the Harvard Business Review blog network caught my eye. It went beyond those pithy list type emails and Facebook status updates you get at this time of year, with some real insight backed by research. The focus is on five key actions leaders can take to make a real difference in their organisations, especially with regards to talent development.

We all know how vital talent development is: finding, attracting, nurturing, developing and retaining talent are absolutely key to success in the world of work right now. More than ever before. The author of this article in HBR, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, correctly argues though that the emphasis at the moment should be on DIVERSE TALENT. A good talent pool is not enough: a good, diverse talent pool is essential. This is especially true for multinational companies. You can read her full article with all the additional research included (it’s worth well it!) at the HBR blog site here, or a summary of her five leadership actions below:

1. Be more inclusive. What does it take to consistently drive growth and innovation? The answer, according to CTI’s latest research, is a diverse workforce managed by leaders who cherish difference, embrace disruption, and foster a speak-up culture. Leaders have long recognized that an inherently diverse workforce “matches the market” and confers a competitive edge by recognizing the unmet needs of consumers and clients like themselves. But ideas from outliers too often are ignored or squelched because their originators don’t resemble the paradigms of corporate power — Caucasian, male, heterosexual, and from a similar educational and socioeconomic background. Leaders who promote a culture of diverse talent — whether in their team or throughout their organization — where everyone feels free to volunteer opinions or propose solutions that contradict convention unlock the full spectrum of innovative capacity.

2. Create pathways for sponsorship. What can help talented women, gays, and people of color spread their wings and succeed? The answer is sponsorship — a strategic workplace partnership between those with power and those with potential. Unlike mentors, who act as sympathetic sounding boards, sponsors are people in positions of power who work on their protégé’s behalf to clear obstacles, foster connections, assign higher-profile work to ease the move up the ranks, and provide aircover and support in case of stumbles. Sponsors have a significant impact on the career traction of their female and multicultural protégés: 68% of women with sponsors say they are satisfied with their rate of advancement, compared with 57% of those without sponsors; 53% of sponsored African-Americans and 55% of Asians are satisfied with their career progress, compared with, respectively, 35% and 30%. Those numbers add up to employees who are more committed, more engaged, and more likely to attract similar talent.

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Video: Technology replacing professionals in 10 years

If you had told a farmer a century ago that he would not need labourers, and would be able to harvest and manage his farm using machines he would have laughed at you. If you had told factory bosses the same thing about sixty years ago, they would have been equally dismissive. And yet, we’ve gone from 40% of the workforce being formally employed in agriculture in 1900 to less than 2% today, with over 400% increase in output during that time.

So, we should not be surprised that people have been predicting the demise of white colour workers, middle management and service jobs for many years. It was probably Tom Peters who made the most high profile predictions around the turn of the millennium, when he suggested 25% of all office workers would lose their jobs by 2015. As with most future predictions, his timing was somewhat out, but the content is likely to be spot on. Jobs and careers are being disrupted as never before – see what my colleague, Dean had to say on this topic just last week.

And don’t think this will affect just the low level office worker. No, it’s likely to affect professionals just as much. It’s already happening. The best example I can think of is on the trading floor of investment banks. Just two years ago, the traders who handled huge daily trades (especially in currencies) were some of the highest paid people in the business world. Now they’ve been replaced by computers. Just like that.

A few months ago, we read reports of a legal firm in the USA offering a web based service where you can type in the details of your legal complaint and the system automatically finds the legal precedents that will determine whether you will win or lose your case. All without a human lawyer involved. We’re sure that other professionals will face a similar fate – if they’re generalists.

In this video, Graeme Codrington talks about how even your family doctor will be replaced by a machine by 2020. Unless he or she does things that computers can’t do. But I’ll talk about that more later this week.


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

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Learning is changing – and businesses will need to change too

Education chalkboardThere is a pattern to the disruption of industries – change happens slowly, with a few early-adopters taking a technology and innovating, but not always in the optimum way.  Then it happens quickly – and a whole industry can come tumbling down.  Take digital music, which had been around a few years before Apple took the technology, reached the masses and brought the music industry to its knees. The same happened with digital photography – which gained an early foothold, but not until the smartphone came along did consumer behaviour completely change in a way that the photographic industry failed to predict.

Massive open online courses (MOOCS) will disrupt university education. Distance learning courses have been around for years, and have a particularly strong history in the UK, with the Open University founded back in 1969. But only now is there a convergence of trends that will cause an explosion in online education and change our university system forever.  The recession has hit middle-class parents hard and low income families harder, right at a time when university fees are rising. Technology has raced on, to the point where institutions can deliver a sophisticated degree programme at a fraction of the cost of a traditional degree.

Coursera partners with 62 Universities from 14 countries to deliver free online education to anyone who wants it. In only a year it has attracted 3.2 million global users and, earlier this year, has had 5 of its courses given college degree status.

Udacity has a similar mission to deliver high quality, low cost education. Founded by Google X founder Sebastian Thrun, it is a heavy-hitting entrant to the educational space and has recently collaborated with the Georgia Institute of Technology to launch an Online Master of Computer Science degree that is making US Universities twitchy.  As Time Magazine says “Georgia Tech’s announcement….is a game changer that will have other top-tier universities that offer degrees in computer science scrambling to compete.”

In the next few years, universities will have to demonstrate that their on-campus offer really delivers an education and experience beyond that which online courses can deliver. The danger will be that only the wealthy can afford them. An earlier, bigger, danger is a massive negative economic impact for those universities who are behind the curve or don’t have the ‘name’ or financial backing as high end degrees become more accessible through online learning. We will surely see many smaller and less prestigious universities disappear within the next 20 years.

The combination of this disruption to the education system with the increasing automation of knowledge careers and the influence of the value system of Generation X mean that the traditional campus-based university degree may return to a position where only the very academic or wealthy few will make the investment.

Generation X parents have been hit hard by the recession.  They are relatively happy with risk and will be seeing and living the changing nature of education and work. They won’t the feel the need to encourage their children to go make a huge investment in a campus degree if there is no clear benefit.  Even if their family is wealthy enough to afford it, Generation Z may well agree with their parents that the money is better used to fund online learning, a deposit for a flat, or invest in a business idea.  Entrepreunership will become a career-choice in itself.

The impact on business will be that employers will have to look harder for talent.  Or at least, the relatively straightforward ‘milk round’ will no longer be a viable source of candidates, as graduates will be not be gathered in number in central locations.  On the other hand, there will be more graduates from prestigious universities as they reach a larger online student body, so employers will need to find new ways of differentiating between them.  Many of the brightest young people may not even be graduates. The whole landscape will change and businesses will have to reshape around it in order to manage diverse streams of candidates. The “one size fits all” graduate programme is likely to become a thing of the past as businesses are forced to integrate new young employees from many different attainment backgrounds – and those employees expect an individualised career path tailored to their talents and objectives.

It’s a lot of change and it will be a challenging transition.  But businesses and employees alike will gain a huge amount from the better recognition and understanding of the diversity of talents, backgrounds and life goals that are the reality of human existence, and not always fully represented by a college degree.


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Generation Jobless: A warning to us all

The April 27th Economist ran a cover story about the ‘generation jobless’ – the global rise of youth unemployment. It is a serious concern for a number of reasons and one that could have long-lasting implications for both the global economy and political stability.

Generation Jobless coverGen Y was the hardest hit by the recession that began in 2008 and kicked up a gear in the following years. The ‘last in – first out’ hiring / firing principle meant that the ‘new kids on the block’ had to go when things became tough and belts were either tightened or taken away altogether. This was a generation that had only just arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed in the work environment only to be told there was no place for them. It was a generation determined to make their mark, to make a real difference and they were more than up for the challenge of restoring some sort of global and environmental equilibrium. In this regard they were unlike their predecessors – Gen X and although these are sweeping generational generalisations, the difference between Gen X and Gen Y in this regard is marked. Armed with such enthusiasm – and some would say naivety, meeting in a head-on collision with the recession and its subsequent job cuts, and general economic meltdown has put this generation into an economic tailspin. It will have a devastating impact on their overall perspective and long-term view. The depression that accompanies being without work will impact on this generation more than most. Exactly how this will play out – a greater distrust for the ‘institution’ and for national politics to name but two things, is hard to predict. But put yourself in their shoes and ask how can it not have enormous consequences?

The other concern is that an unhappy, disempowered populace – especially one with youth and energy on their side, fuels social revolutions. Add into that volatile mix the connectivity this generation enjoy through social media and you have all the raw ingredients of social upheaval. The Arab Spring and London riots being recent examples of what can happen when these forces converge into a ‘perfect storm’.

South Africa’s biggest risk is a future of large numbers of unemployed youth. This is a slight twist on what has taken place in Europe but the inherent risks remain the same with the similarity in both context and conditions. We will save our future in South Africa through sound education today – and this assumes an education specifically shaped to ensure that the youth emerging from the educational system are employable. Currently we are failing in meeting this challenge.

These broad concerns speak to demographic issues that are like rising damp in a wall: easy to ignore and gloss over, until it is too late. And like any demographic issues that take time to reach their boiling point, so it takes time for any viable solution to be felt.

‘Generation Jobless’…it is a headline that is chilling in it’s implications and one that serves as a stark warning to us all. Exactly what to do about it is less simple, but ignoring it, certainly isn’t an option.

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Podcast: The Customer Experience Show – Secrets of Successful Multi-Generational Work Cultures

Podcast: The Customer Experience Show – Secrets of Successful Multi-Generational Work Cultures

Dean and myself were interviewed by Michelle Romanica on the Customer Experience Show on Blogtalk Radio. It was a great show, with some fascinating insights into multi-generational workplaces.

The blurb of the show says:

In their work, Graeme Codrington and Dean van Leeuwen have conducted extensive research, working to address the emerging issue of generational differences that can cause problems in the workplace today. Graeme and Dean have worked to bridge this gap in theory, implementing it in practice in many companies. Anna Elwood, Director of Operations, was one of ZocDoc’s early employees who helped shape this company. ZocDoc has seen a work model emerge naturally; one that focused on the uniqueness of generational needs rather than focusing on differences to “divide and conquer”. It works on principles that demonstrate Graeme and Dean are not talking about “pie in the sky”. Here is a company that is practicing what it takes to “bridge the gap” and succeed together.

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Primary Blog contributors

The main contributors to this blog are:

Dr Graeme Codrington, co-founder of TomorrowToday, author, speaker and expert on the changing world of work
Dean van Leeuwen, co-founder and CEO of TomorrowToday UK & Europe, speaker, consultant and Chief Intellectual Adventurer
Keith Coats, co-founder of TomorrowToday South Africa, leadership development guru, speaker and author
Professor Nick Barker, director of the Asia Pacific Leadership Program at the East-West Center in Hawaii, leadership development expert
Markus Kramer, marketing director for Aston Martin and brand building expert
Keith Holdt, Visionary Enabler of business growth and change, currently works for LDC as an investment executive.
Dil Sidhu, Chief External Officer, Manchester Business School; Executive education specialist.
Dawna MacLean, expert on fostering meaningful change and creating authentic experiences through transparent and trusted partnerships.

Click here for a full list of contributors

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