If you want your company to be around for a long time, you must be aware of the BIG sea of changes that will affect the environment in which you do business. Someone like Chris Clark, CEO of the Georgia Chamber, has a birds-eye view of these trends and brought four of them to our attention this week.
First off, there’s another group right behind the millennials – known as the “zoomers” – who bring with them another set of radical changes. Then, there’s the third wave of urbanization –what does that mean? Along with an increase in rural poverty rates and the unusual demands this workforce will place on employers, we are seeing a radical shift in the attitude and approach to work and career, and if you’re not ready for it, you will be left behind.
Forget Millennials; Here Come the Zoomers
“Nobody is talking about the zoomers,” Clark points out. These are the kids in college today. “They’re a much smaller population, they don’t get nearly the PR that they (millennials) get. But again, extraordinarily talented, accepting of the rate of change. Embraces the rate of change, where, I think many want to push the other way, and they don’t want to see the change.” These are the disrupters of the next few decades, the workforce that will step in and, like millennials, change the way businesses hire and recruit.
There is no doubt about it; the millennial generation is still the big gorilla, though. According to Clark, “By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. This year, 2018, and this is one politicians need to come around to understand, millennials will be the largest voting bloc. What does millennial, Christina Cook, think about her generation? “We want to try everything, but definitely quality of life is the top for us…” What about us Gen. Xers? Oh well, our time has come and gone already.
Third Wave Urbanization
As Clark puts it, “We really are seeing, I think, the second or third wave of urbanization, not just in the U.S., but in the world right now. The urban areas of the world will double in size over the next 25 years. That’s pretty amazing when you stop to think about it.” Why? Millennials. Because of their desire for a good quality of life, because they don’t want to live in planned, gated communities with a major commute to and front their jobsite (and all the metropolitan perks that come from being in the city),millennials want to move back ‘to town.’
There’s a downside, however, and it centers around two things. The first, sadly, is inevitable. As Clark makes abundantly clear, “The folks that suffer from that are, unfortunately, our rural areas; not just in Georgia, but across the country and really around the world. What we’ve seen is a steady decline of population and jobs.” The decrease in population brings with it all kinds of ancillary problems. For someone like Clark, the challenge is clear. “What do I need to do to recruit millennials to move to my [rural] community? Or, move back home after they’ve gone off to the big city?” he says. “I need to have a whole strategy around that.”
With Talent Abandoning the Rural Areas, Poverty is Increasing
The second issue is a sobering one. For those in the know, it’s called the cycle of poverty and, while signs look promising, the current situation is not. “Worldwide, poverty is going to decline to about 10% over the next 30 years, which is a wonderful thing,” Clark says. But there’s a catch. “What we’re seeing in the rural areas though, those people that are left are going to be in higher poverty, and their children are going to be in poverty,” he states, and the effects reverberate down the generations.
“If their children are in poverty, they don’t have the access to the resources, or they don’t have the support mechanisms they need,” he explains. “They might not have the access to technology that they’re going to need. And therefore, they’re not going to be ready for the workplace, and they’re not going to be the vibrant young workers that you want and that companies will move to attract to their workplace.” Ominous, right?
Yet, Monty Hamilton and Ingrid Miller from Rural Sourcing, Inc., have found an opportunity to turn this trend to their advantage. Remember them from November 2016? Instead of outsourcing jobs around the globe, this IT company focuses on giving those opportunities to folks in these under-served rural areas. It’s the whole “location vs. vocation” debate taken to a smart, synergistic level. For someone like Hamilton, the mantra is obvious. “We want to let them live where they want to live, and have a great career, and exciting place to work.”
Employers: Be Ready to Yield
So many of us, Boomers and GenXers, have been conditioned to make sacrifices for work. Fuhgeddaboudit!! For the company and its management, “it’s no longer about what they want; it’s now about what their workers are going to demand, and they can get that right now,” Clark warns, “or they can be left behind over the long run.” And, Christina Cook is a perfect example. Even in her upper management leadership position as Manager of External Affairs, Christina Cook considers herself Georgia Chamber’s token millennial.
The Zoomers can accelerate this even more. So, who has to adjust the most? You do. For Clark, the question becomes “how do we get local leaders, business leaders to work together” to fulfill the needs of this new job force and to make those types of changes.
“Remember – millennials are very much purpose driven. What they do, they want to mean something at the end of the day,” Clark adds. It’s all part of a new trend that will see cities becoming “friendlier,” rural areas becoming more competitive, and HR decisions more centered on ability and skill set than age or attitude. The new wave is coming – the question is, are you ready? According to the Georgia Chamber, you need to be.