Guest blogger: Michelle Jukoski
COVID-19 has forever altered the workforce as we know it. As if the pandemic alone isn’t enough, it came on the heels of a workforce already in transition with the aging out of Baby Boomers, influx of Millennials moving into leadership roles, and Gen-Z entering the workforce. And while we thought the changes in workforce demographics was going to have a dramatic impact on employers, we are now faced with a mass exodus of employees in what is being labeled “The Great Resignation” because of the pandemic.
After being forced to work remotely, employees are reconsidering their mindset on work and shifting from “live to work to work to live”. In April 2021, a record 4 million people quit their jobs. In a survey of more than 31,000 global workers, Microsoft found that 41% are considering leaving their current employer this year.
But it’s the working women who have taken the brunt of the pandemic’s consequences. A study by McKinsey at the height of the pandemic found that one in three mothers were considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers to handle childcare responsibilities.
So, how does this relate to empowering the next generation?
Given these unprecedented circumstances, Gen-Xers and older Millennials have an obligation to our younger cohorts to provide them with a legacy and path for success. They grew up in the “digital age” and had the privilege and the curse (yes, a bit of curse) of having easy and constant access to computers, the internet, cell phones and social media from a very early age. More than likely they also grew up with an abundance of praise and recognition. While that mentality ensured no one’s feelings got hurt, it also created unrealistic expectations about success and has diminished the power of goal setting.
Right or wrong, (and we all have our opinions on this) what has resulted is a different set of workplace expectations. Boomers and Gen-Xers grew up in a world where hard work, dedication, perseverance, and resilience were the key tenants to success. All of which came at a cost. In many instances, this work ethic had a negative impact that resulted in an unhealthy imbalance between professional and personal life.
The good news is, we now have the experience and know-how to take the best parts of each generation and mesh them together to create a workforce that values hard work, goals and accomplishments while most importantly recognizing the importance of a healthy work/life balance.
Our health and wellbeing took a beating, on many levels, during the pandemic. So has the health of many organizations and their service delivery—all of which presents great opportunity.
What exactly is employee empowerment?
Empowerment helps framework an employee’s expectations, sets goals to accomplish the main purpose of their work, and ultimately results in the employee taking control of their job.
Empowerment Skills include:
- Life-Coping Skills
- Manipulative Skills
- Intellectual Skills
- Communicative Skills
- Artistic Skills
Each of these skills has been challenged during the past 18 months. For those of us that find ourselves established in our career, it’s paramount that we glean upon our previous experiences—both personal and professional—to guide the next generations into the future.
A skillset that’s quickly risen to the forefront for many people is how well they adapt to change… to life. How do you manage working remotely? How do you balance childcare, education, and extracurricular activities and find some sort of work life balance when you all work from home? As a female leader, I feel especially compelled to coach young working mothers, drawing on my own experience and life lessons learned along the way.
Having a mentor can help with employee retention
The younger generations value feedback and coaching in the workplace. Rather than being frustrated by perceived differences and shortcomings between “us and them,” we need to embrace the opportunity to be mentors. I assure you there is no greater satisfaction than taking co-workers under your wing and sharing your wisdom and knowhow. It’s a wonderful and fulfilling experience to watch younger employees grow and develop in their role within the organization and hopefully doing so in a way that promotes a healthy work/life balance.
Having a mentor as a coach and resource could potentially alter an employee’s thoughts on job switching. Starting a mentorship program at work can be as simple as pairing senior executives and young, non-executive associates together on strategic initiatives. This gives the younger employees the opportunity to share their insights and to diversify the perspectives that executives typically encounter.
This idea of pairing senior roles with junior or entry level roles is called a “shadow board.” According to the Harvard Business Review, shadow boards can help companies with two pressing issues: a millennial’s tendency to disengage and an executive team’s inability to keep up with changing market conditions. Shadow boards can help with business model reinvention, cultural transformation, and process redesign. Best practices include not just leaving these programs up to HR and not limiting them to previously identified “high potentials.”
We are at a critical crossroads in our country today. Mentorship and coaching give the younger employee a voice within the organization and the opportunity to share their ideas. Feeling heard and appreciated will hopefully lead to these employees asking the question, “Do I really want to leave this company?”
To make all of this happen, it’s important that organizations have the right HR tools in place to support attracting and retaining talent, perpetual goal setting, performance feedback, learning management, etc. A tech stack such as Paycor’s HCM platform is well positioned to support these initiatives with a modern and user-friendly employee experience.
With more than 25 years of industry experience, Michelle is a thought leader and subject matter expert in the HR technology space. At HUB, she’s responsible for strategic oversight of HUB’s HR Technology Practice, vendor relations, delivery of internal platform solutions, consulting support for sales, and complex client HR Tech needs. Michelle is a HUB Woman’s Network Ambassador, member of the industry Advisory Collective and an active member of several Broker Advisory boards. Michelle received her BA in Business Management and Marketing from Notre Dame College.