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A New Approach to Engaging the younger workforce


5 September 2008

A New Approach to Engaging the younger workforce of today

Got an office full of ‘twenty-something’s’ who seem to prefer spending time on Facebook to doing work? Should you put your traditional ‘boss’ hat on and call the shots or is there a better way to approach it?

Beginning a career in New Zealand today is a very different experience from what it was for those who grew up here in the 1960’s, or even 1980’s. Generation Y employees - those born between 1982 and 2005 – have different talents and capabilities to previous ‘generations’, they also tend to have different characteristics, attitudes, and workplace expectations. These differences can provide challenges for older managers who expect to treat them the same as older employees and get the same results.

So, what does it take to recruit, retain and manage this new generation of workers successfully? Leading Australian social analyst Mark McCrindle says it is now an employee’s market; the power has shifted, making understanding the very different employee of today essential for every business owner.

Due to visit New Zealand in November, as part of The Knowledge Gym’s programme of Knowledge Workouts - which provides Kiwis with coaching from top business achievers and mentors from around the world - Mark argues that the ideal manager of emerging generations is one who values communication, consensus and participation, and creates an environment of transparency and respect for staff.

“In these times of rapid change, every organisation and business is just one generation away from extinction. Unless we can understand and remain relevant to the new generation of employees we will edge towards irrelevancy,” says McCrindle.

“We are dealing with the most formally educated generation ever and this opens more employment opportunities for them. Adding to the recruitment challenge for traditional trades and industries is that the emerging generations are technologically literate and have positive perception of the IT, service and business sectors.”

“We are also dealing with a generation that have come of age in an entrepreneurial world with increasing opportunities to start their own business or at least change careers regularly until they find one that suits them. In this economic era with near full employment they know that they are in demand and so they are not as worried about the risks of changing employers - or even careers.”
Some employers, after bad ‘Gen Y’ experiences are tempted to focus purely on employing more mature workers who they believe will display more loyalty and commitment. However, this can be a short-sighted strategy, as Gen Y’s may provide youthful idealism and energy, a fresh view to the industry, new qualifications and a 21st Century perspective to life and technology. Generational diversity is the key to a balanced workforce reflective of the varying ages of customers and society.

Mark McCrindle believes that companies must do more that just observe the times; they must understand them. He focuses his interactive presentations on helping leaders in sales, marketing, HR, and management do just this. Providing key information and skills managers need to better retain, manage and train the 21st Century worker, he reveals the secrets to leading a new world of diversity, giving leaders tangible and practical skills that can be applied straight away.

In Mark’s view: “The new reality is here to stay. Don’t think that the current skills shortages are just the sign of a growing economy which will settle down when an inevitable slowdown occurs. The skills shortage is not just an economic reality but also a demographic reality. It will be with us for a generation or more regardless of economic cycles.”

The Knowledge Gym provides New Zealand businesspeople with key insights and coaching from top business achievers and mentors from around the world. For more information on The Knowledge Gym’s programme of ‘Knowledge Workouts’ and their other initiatives to expand your business know-how, or to register for Dr Lundin’s presentation, please visit
Mark McCrindle is regarded as one of the foremost social analysts of our time. He is a trained psychologist, a qualified social researcher and an expert in tracking the emerging trends of business and society. He is the director of the social research agency McCrindle Research Pty Ltd, which specialises in generational and diversity studies across the Asia Pacific.


Christchurch: Tuesday 18 November – La Vida Conference Centre
Auckland: Wednesday 19 November – Sky City
Wellington: Thursday 20 November – Holiday Inn

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