Leading and motivating younger working generations

The workplace is forever changing – every year there are new innovations that are being introduced to the workforce in the form of software, AI and automation. Whilst these are enriching the work ecosystem, it is important not to lose sight of who makes them work – the younger generations.

The Talent Consultants, a recruitment agency in Ho Chi Minh, specialising in executive search and recruitment across Vietnam, keeps a pulse on our younger talent pool. We know what they look for in their jobs and what they want in their careers. 40% of Vietnam’s population is under 40 years old – commonly known as Gen Y, or ‘Millennials’ – and the workforce is only getting younger each year as more Gen Z come into the fold. As we work with different clients and talk to young professionals every day, we want to share what we’ve learned about leading and motivating the younger generations in the workforce.

Defining the generations

The first step in your journey to lead and motivate your younger workforce is to understand the generational segments of your workforce. The oldest in your company are most probably ‘Baby Boomers’ and may often also be the founders or leaders of your organisation. They are seen as confident, independent, and self-reliant. This generation grew up in an era of reform, hard work and saw a lot of change in the world. Hard work and long hours were often the norm for many Baby Boomers throughout most of their career. They can be very family-oriented, and more focused on job security.

Gen Xers, born between 1961-1980, with Baby Boomer parents, often expect a lot of autonomy and self-sufficiency as well – many had two parents in the workforce – and as such learnt to problem solve well on their own. Gen X are generally pretty tech-savvy, many have grown up with some of the first computers and other technology over the past 30+ years, so are seen as early adopters.

The biggest segment of the Vietnam workforce is comprised of Gen Y or Millennials, born between 1981-1995. There are many stories and reports about the stark differences between Millennials and those who employ them – Gen X and Boomers, such as “Millennials are lazy, entitled, continually want to be recognised, and want everyone else to adjust around them”. These are mostly dangerous generalizations or stereotypes that have been debunked, or certainly questioned by most HR experts over the last few years.

We think there is another angle to look at this: instead of being lazy, we think Gen Y works smart. Instead of entitled and constantly craving for recognition, they expect more from others. And Gen Y doesn’t want everyone to adjust to them, but expect people to be flexible to the changing work landscape.

The latest generation, Gen Z (born after 1995) are also starting to join the workforce as they graduate University. They will soon surpass Millennials as the most populous generation on earth. Gen Z are known as ‘technoholics’ and look for ways to embrace technology in all facets of their lives.  Their technologically-enhanced and innovative education is making them into strong multitaskers and multifaceted professionals. They are going to make career choices with companies that represent diversity, global citizenship and social responsibility – it’s important for companies to ensure they promote their programs and opportunities for employee participation in this space.

Leading and motivating the younger workforce

There has to be a paradigm shift in the way you operate at work to start motivating and leading the younger workforce. Firstly, appreciate who they are as professionals. Think about their strengths and how these can bring positive impact to productivity, innovation and work culture. One pitfall for companies is to keep reinforcing outdated ways of working just because they have worked well in the past. You can’t build a relationship with your younger employees if you don’t have an environment that they feel welcome in. Integrate them into your company by listening to their insights; implementing processes based on efficiency/technology and automation; and allowing them the freedom and respect to contribute to your business as equals.

Secondly, promote and practice your values in the workplace. Millennials prefer to work for a company that’s not all business – they want to work for a company that has a vision and makes a positive contribution to the world around them. If management upholds integrity and honesty at all times, if the company strives to help the environment or communities that are in need, they are creating more meaning and value for the younger staff. This is how work makes sense for Millennials, and this is how companies can engage and retain them.

Thirdly, employers can create channels for involvement and growth. If your company is experiencing an apparent divide between Millennials and the older generations, involve the younger generations in the business strategy and in contributing to decision making. This provides everyone with a meaningful connection, and engages Gen Z & Y by giving a voice to their experiences and insights – often ideas that can potentially help bring positive change and innovation to your company.

To motivate and lead the younger working generation, they must feel that they have a purpose, a stake in the health of the company, and are able to make a positive impact to society. Our younger professionals are our future – innovative individuals who want to reconcile their careers with their passions.

Walk the talk

At The Talent Consultants, a recruitment agency specialising in executive search and recruitment in Ho Chi Minh and across Vietnam, we know that there are exciting times ahead for companies who wish to motivate, lead and engage their younger workforce. As long as companies are being inclusive, open to new voices and new opportunities to innovate, they have already made the first important step towards motivating and leading their younger staff members and new hires.

Want to know more about how you can develop a more connected and motivated team? Talk to The Talent Consultants today. For a confidential discussion, please email sarah@thetalentconsultants.com.