How New Generations Are Changing SME Employee Management

Dec 28, 2016

Guest Post from James D. Burbank

Editor-in-chief BizzMarkBlog

One aspect of business that has changed most dramatically over the course of the human history is employee management. Over the millennia and the centuries, we have seen an overall improvement of the way business owners and managers (and all of their historical iterations) are treating and managing their employees.

Trying to even simply list all of the major changes that have happened in the field of employee management over the centuries would be an exercise in futility and, for today, we will focus on the most recent change – the one brought upon the new generations of employees: the millennials and the generation Z.

The Young Ones

The mythical millennials (born between 1980 and 1995) have been the part of the business conversations for years and while the majority of what is being written about them is mostly oversimplifying things, they do have a somewhat different view of the world and of the workplace than the previous generations.

Their successors, Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2005, approximately) have also started entering the workforce recently and they are also showing certain traits that make them different both from the millennials who preceded them and even more from the previous generations.

But, how do these two generations actually change the way SME owners and managers do employee management?

Work-Life Balance

First and foremost, these “younger” generations have a much more sensitivity towards the work-life balance. This is something that the previous generations didn’t consider that crucial due to various realities of life and socio-economic conditions around the world.

This new worker either knows better or feels more entitled (depending on how you look at it) and does not want their life to revolve around their work, especially if they are not in management positions. They do not consider their work to be everything and they want to be able to enjoy time with their families, or alone.

This is why companies nowadays rush to incorporate flexible work options such as remote work or flexible work hours. This is also one of the reasons why the 8-hour workday is all but ready to be relegated to history.

Shifting Loyalties

There used to be a time when people felt pride working for the same company for 35 years. They didn’t mind that they didn’t advanced too much or that some other company might have offered them better conditions. They stuck with the company that gave them a shot and they received a nice golden watch at the end of the road.

New generations do not see employee loyalty in the same way. They are more loyal to individuals and projects than to the mythical Company. They have also been more exposed to information that showed them how companies didn’t care about their employees in the past, like during the 2008 financial crisis and everything that followed. The personal success and fulfilment has also become an overarching storyline for many members of these new generations and sticking with someone for 30-odd years simply does not work in that scenario.

Because of this, companies are doing everything in their powers to promote employee engagement that will help them attract and retain their employees at least to some extent. Smart managers are acknowledging the situation and finding out best employee management techniques that will help them get the most out of their younger employees.

More Technology

Another huge way in which new generations are influencing the workplace and the management is through an increased reliance on technology that has penetrated virtually every industry.

New generations adopt technology from the earliest age and using tech in work comes naturally for them, which can be a huge boost for the company that employs them. For example, a member of one of these two new generations will take a couple of hours to get used to the new small business payroll software their company bought while it may take a few days for someone from the previous generations. This is not meant as disrespect to previous generations or anything.

Of course, this also has its bad sides, like in situations when there is no software to come to their aid and they are left to fend for themselves with pen and paper. This is where a millennial or a member of the Generation Z might lack the knack for digging themselves out of a hole without technology.

When employee management is in question, this better command of new technologies is usually a bonus when newer generations are in question. Their managers can expect them to take advantage of the new solutions that the company decides to employ and to improve the work they are doing (if the tech is well-chosen, of course).

Closing Word

It is interesting to see how things will change in the future and where the new generations will take the workforce.

One thing is for sure, there will be a lot of technology involved and we will have to wait and see whether it is a good thing when all is said and done.


AUTHOR: James D. Burbank has years of experience in the trade show industry and marketing in general. He is currently on hiatus, spending time with his family and blogging on his blog – BizzMarkBlog