There are currently five generations in the workplace with very different needs, wants, values and beliefs and a management style mismatch creating challenges.

Characteristics of the generations

Veterans were born between 1939 and 1947 so are currently aged between 69 and 77. Their planned retirement may have been delayed due to the impact of the credit crunch. This generation are also known as ‘traditionalists’. They are late adopters of change, need to be in control and are risk averse.

Baby boomers were born between 1948 and 1963 so are currently aged between 53 and 68. They have invested time and sacrificed work life balance for increased compensation and status, are reluctant to collaborate and are focused on today rather than planning for tomorrow.

Generation X were born between 1964 and 1978 and are currently aged 38-52. They are independent by nature, demotivated by lack of reward and recognition for time and effort invested and will move for new opportunities where they feel more valued.

Generation Y were born between 1979 and 1999 and are aged between 17 and 37. Generation Y are also commonly known as Millennials. They seek feedback and validation and enjoy working collaboratively. They work to live rather than live to work and seek varied and fulfilling work with meaning.

Generation Z were born after 2000 so are currently aged 16 or under, and are the managers and leaders of the future. They are often grouped with Generation Y.

Generations Y and Z combined are commonly referred to as ‘digital natives’ or the ‘net generation’ – goal oriented and achievement oriented with a preference for active learning and social activities.

Considerations when workforce planning and hiring – employer

  • Career fulfilment becoming more important driven by Generation Y
  • Lean and agile more important – support for employees is needed to ensure they are not overwhelmed and to manage procrastination which inhibits efficiency
  • Growing openness to business critical law firm management roles, for example, project manager, process manager, change manager
  • Women’s role in decision making expanding as society evolves over time and their influence grows
  • True diversity and inclusion is individualism – embrace difference in all its forms
  • Emotional intelligence is growing as a competency vs. robots
  • Uncertainty is the permanent ‘normal’
  • Personal branding needed to create differentiation
  • Innovation needs to be more nimble with the fast pace of change
  • Compulsory gender pay reporting is introduced in 2016 putting the spotlight on fairness and causes of the disparity
  • Growing openness to flexibility for financial rather than work life balance reasons
  • Growing work place stress
  • Generation Y are less loyal and restless – engage them while you can
  • Employer brands need to be compelling to attract talent
  • Employee engagement and talent management are becoming more vital
  • Workforce planning with a diverse full time, part time, freelance, alumni and portfolio careerists talent pool essential
  • The very nature of lawyers and the legal profession of being risk averse endangers innovation with small companies nibbling at the heartland
  • Career ‘ladders’ are being replaced by career ‘lattices’ also known as ‘mosaics’ and ‘carousels’
  • 50% of workers predicted to be self employed by 2020 with a high number of portfolio careerists
  • Reputation and testimonials are becoming more important with Trip Advisor style employer and specialist evaluation/ratings sites online
  • Pressure on law firm management to demonstrate ROI likely to grow with more competition and clients wanting more for less
  • Competencies of yesterday are not the competencies of tomorrow
  • Curiosity, empathy, creativity, resilience and the ability to manage ambiguity are becoming more important
  • Time to think and switching off are becoming essential to manage stress and keep the quality of thinking high
  • Aging population creating a future skills shortfall and knowledge drain danger – pre-emptive planning needed now
  • The traditional and hierarchical nature of law firm partnerships is the antithesis of what Generation Y seek
  • Trend to younger and cheaper in the employer mix with graduates hungry for opportunity
  • Invisible poverty amongst lower paid workers especially where the cost of living is high
  • Introduction of the living wage in April 2016 creating a need to make savings elsewhere
  • Cyber security a growing risk and smarter data management with big data needed
  • Growth of the ‘gig economy’ - use of freelance and contract workers

10 tips for candidates for 2016

  1. Create/build a personal brand
  2. Be clear on your career KPIs
  3. Align your career capital with your career strategy
  4. Take responsibility for your career – don’t abdicate responsibility
  5. Keep up to date with fast changing trends
  6. Block out time for your career strategy and CPD
  7. Have career ‘insurance’ - a plan ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C‘
  8. Invest in your career prospects – acquire new skills and build qualifications
  9. Utilise your recruitment consultant’s knowledge and expertise
  10. Gain support with a career coach and/or mentor

Wishing you a successful and fulfilling 2016.

Rachel Brushfield is founder of EnergiseLegal. For more insights, click here to download free articles.



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