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“Put your smartphone down, when I’m speaking to you!”

Did you assume the hypothetical person with the phone was… a young person? Perhaps even… a Millennial?

Also known as a member of Gen Y, born (roughly 1981-95), stereotyped as self-absorbed young professionals, preferring to edit Instagram photos than pick up the phone to clients?

(That really IS a stereotype, by the way.)

To answer the question… the person absorbed in using their smartphone could have been of any age.

From a Millennial to a Gen Zer (the generation born roughly 1996 to 2000), to Gen Xers, Boomers and members of the Silent Generation, too.

Almost EVERY generation by this point, whether in or out of the office, has discovered the benefits of, and formed a certain level of dependency on, their smart device of choice.

Why? Chiefly because of the convenience such devices provide, but even more because of the connection, and the empowering feeling of having a say in shaping that connection.

Which brings me to the point of this post… Purpose. More specifically: Millennials’ demand for and near-religious devotion to it, whether in or out of the workplace.

So great is their need to find purpose in their work, accuse their critics, that Gen Y will walk away from perfectly well-paid, stable jobs, leaving expensive vacancies for HR to re-fill after spending only a relatively short period of time with a company.

Yet… if we are honest… EVERY generation of workers appreciates meaningful employment, and for their efforts to have a purpose beyond profit. Why? Because this is a very human need, no matter how old or young we may be.

It’s just that… unlike Gen Y, older generations were born in more authoritarian and less-technologically-empowered times. Eras where you earned your dues over time, and a J.O.B. was perfectly acceptable – even if all it did was pay the rent and put food on the table, and wasn’t going to win you a Pulitzer prize or reinvent the toothbrush.

Millennials, on the other hand, were brought up with a very different picture of the world and their role in it.

Gen Y were taught by parents and teachers that they would change the world, and were groomed to expect to be agents of innovation. So, given their relative youth and ambition, not to mention, their ease in creatively collaborating with peers, finding ‘purpose’ in their work is a ‘luxury’ they believe they can afford, while staying in a job without ‘purpose’ appears a far greater threat to their future longterm.

This can certainly be a headache for HR departments, tasked with filling job positions that might have been retained by recruits of older generations, not to mention, spending time and money retraining replacements.

But it’s just as much an important warning sign to a company itself, that perhaps it’s not as aligned with its original vision as it needs to be.

Or perhaps that it needs a different ‘Why’ in Simon Sinek’s words, beyond merely turning a profit.

After all, Millennials are not just potential employees, but customers and consumers, too. Their perspectives on what is important, their values and their unique approach to work and life, can neither be ignored nor dismissed.

Meanwhile, retention headache or not, we can all stand to benefit from their desire to make time, creativity, education and effort count towards a meaningful initiative.

Because finding purpose, just like the ease and connectivity offered by smartphones, is something that ultimately appeals to every generation.

To learn more about my corporate training services and to book a free consultation, please visit: www.leonidasalexandrou.com/services/evolution/

Remember your early twenties? I remember mine.

With a university degree under my belt and inspired by the relationships I had cultivated with both fellow students and professors, I was full of passion (still am), optimism and self-belief, and gripped by the absolute conviction that focus, discipline and clear goals were all I needed for success.

Today, hand on my heart, I still believe in those principles as crucial to professional and personal growth and achievement…

However, like all of us as we acquire real-life observations and experiences, I’ve evolved my views over time. Especially when it comes to getting young people ready for the 21st century workplace.

These days, the words on everyone’s lips are ‘disruption’, ‘automation’ and ‘Artificial Intelligence’, as well as ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

In other words, a tsunami of relentless, escalating and no-guarantees change on every level – from technological to financial to professional.

Here are a few more words: ‘unemployment’ and ‘Generation Z’.

Gen Z are the newest cohort to be showing up at hiring interviews, following on the heels of the famously entrepreneurial ‘Millennials’ or Gen Y, having been born after 1995.

More risk-averse, conservative and privacy-loving than Millennials, Gen Z have never known a pre-internet world, and they are the true digital natives.

However… my takeaways in mentoring these young people, either during the FEARLESS self-development workshops I lead, or the one-on-one mentoring I undertake throughout the year, is that most Gen Z teens are still VERY under-prepared for the skills expected in today’s workplace.

According to professional networking platform LinkedIn, the top five HARD skills that companies need most in 2019 are:

  1. Cloud computing
  2. Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)
  3. Analytical reasoning
  4. People management
  5. UX design

What about 2019’s top five most-desirable soft skills? LinkedIn tells us they are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Time management

But I think that beyond hard and soft skills… there are timeless LIFE skills which new Gen Z workforce members need to know and implement, in order to become a truly FEARLESS generation.

And these are:

  1. Cognitive flexibility (the ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, or think about multiple concepts simultaneously)
  2. Problem solving (finding solutions to difficult or complex issues)
  3. Critical thinking (competently analysing facts to form judgments)
  4. Goal-setting and execution (the development of an action plan to motivate individuals or groups to materialise a target or achieve a pre-determined milestone)
  5. Resilience (the ability to cope with a crisis or failure, or minimise the impact of stressors or pressure)

These are the game-changer skills that people of all ages would do well to learn… and they are PARTICULARLY crucial to Gen Z, who, unlike previous generations, will have managed their home, school and social lives almost exclusively via smartphones and apps, without having had the independent opportunity to cultivate and practise the life skills listed above.

They say time waits for no man (or woman), and that is especially true today, with exponential disruption occurring across almost every industry and profession.

And for every generation still represented in the workplace – and most particularly for Gen Z hires – displaying cognitive flexibility, problem solving, critical thinking, goal-setting and resilience – are only going to grow in desirability in the years ahead.

Which is why, helping young people acquire these skills, so they become as natural as brushing teeth or riding a bike, is ultimately part of my personal mission in helping create (and grow!) a truly FEARLESS generation.

For one-on-one mentoring to transform your teen’s communication, leadership, self-management and long-term employability potential, please check out the FEARLESS track of my services by clicking here.