Reexamining Generational Motivation In The Workplace

Last time, fresh from Las Vegas and the Interactive Manufacturing Experience (imX), an event and summit on the present and future of manufacturing presented in part by client SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers), I relayed keynote speaker and global futurist Jim Carroll’s thoughts on world-class innovators. How they think. What sets them apart.

Continuing in that vein, Carroll spent much of his discussion focusing on “the new workforce.” In high-tech manufacturing the need for attracting and preparing a trained next generation is among the greatest challenges facing the industry. The key, he says, for any field, is adaptation to  new way of thinking – theirs.

“Years ago, young people used to ask me, ‘What do you do,’ referring to my line of work. Today they ask me, ‘What do you like to do,’ meaning, beyond my career.” To that end, Carroll talks about world-class innovators focusing on flexibility of structure – considering that traditional work protocols (i.e. inflexible 9 to 5 work schedules and typical annual reward systems ) are not always desirable to today’s work/life balance-minded professionals living just as much in the ‘here and now.’

To underscore his point, Carroll relayed a few eye-opening statistics from recently college-graduated young professionals:

• 50% believe being self-employed is more secure than a full-time job

• 67% indicate they are already thinking about their next job on their first day of a new job

• The majority feel 2-5 years in any one place is a long-term ‘career’

It is a mindset, Jim Carroll says, that is mirrored by the speed of today’s development cycles (i.e. today’s iPod used components not available four years ago, while, 80% of the sales of a new video game come in its first four days of release). The next generational way of thinking is even more understandable when one considers this astounding fact: On average, by the time a college student graduates with a four-year degree, everything they will have learned in their first year will be obsolete.