40 Under 40 Perspectives: Labor of Love Lost Between Generations
As a 1985 baby, I fall into two categories: millennial and Generation X. This never seemed like much of a concern as I was entering the workforce. I recall being grouped as “entitled and lazy” by the older generation at the time and scoffing at such a presumption that my work would be viewed this way, regardless of the aptitude and work ethic I brought to the table. Hindsight is often 20/20 as I find there to be a trend that every younger generation is thought to be less than the former.
Today, as a hiring manager and upcoming ownership (my brother and I are the fourth generation of family ownership) at Moss Greenhouses, we are battling the same labor battles as any other company in the world. It is as if you are paying more for less like at the grocery store. We just don’t have the bodies to do the jobs because other industries can offer more, and the work isn’t as hard.
Today’s workforce is more diverse than we have ever seen, providing many opportunities and challenges for any owner or hiring manager. I love to turn challenges into opportunities. My staff would be the first to tell you I love to make them uncomfortable because that is where growth happens. That goes for anyone of any age. So how do we do the best job with the people we have from each generation? I want to provide a workplace in which people look forward to coming to work. We spend more time with the people we work with day-to-day than our own families. Why not make that environment fun and uplifting?
Our goal is to find capable individuals to do the job and show up every day. The older generation in the workforce has the experience, but they are starting to find their exit strategies and stage retirement plans. This is the time we need to use their knowledge to prepare ourselves for the next shift. The millennial and Gen Z, following Gen X, speak a different language. This has become such a glaring issue for managers and trainers in every segment. How do we communicate the job and train for it?
HIRING FOR THE JOBS IN TODAY’S WORKPLACE
YouTube has taught us a lesson that is key to this piece of training. Video is king. They are the second largest search engine in the world owned by the largest one, i.e., Google. This is where we find our opportunity. Can we translate the jobs we have into video training for the new generation of hires? Can they help us with this, as it is their skill set we need for this process?
First, let’s dispel the myth that the younger generation in front of hiring managers today are useless and lazy. I challenge you to look at it from a different perspective. Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” Hire for attitude. You can lean on the experience in your workforce to train the job itself. Having a great attitude and a positive workplace environment to show up to every day goes a long way in job satisfaction. This new generation of employees are driven by the value of experiences over possessions and work-life balance. Following that logic, how can you contribute a positive experience to their work life thus instilling loyalty and commitment? Train from experience while speaking their language in video. We use the skills and strengths of each generation to build the foundation of hiring and training for our labor forces. Take that experienced manager or machine tech, have them build the content, then find that video buff (or hire it out) and make a plan. Then the onboarding process gets much simpler.
After that, the follow-up can fall in the regular protocol for 30-day evaluations and expectation benchmarks that fall within any company structure. How much easier is your day job if you no longer must exhibit large amounts of stress or lack of sleep because your process of hiring, training and onboarding is solid? The answer for me is approximately 50% reduction in stress, leaving my energy available for the day-to-day challenges that any owner faces, giving me more ability to do my job.
My daily goal is this simple: Leave people better than when I found them. That goes especially for the folks who work with me every day. I lean on the experience of my team and lend that to the new up and comers to build excitement. That, coupled with a positive work environment and video onboarding program, and you are setting yourself up for success in the changing world. Now I invite you, leave a smile on the face of a coworker before you leave today.
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