Business leaders are often focused on increasing sales, driving the business forward, discovering the latest innovation, exploring technical solutions, seeking out potential acquisitions, and sometimes, if they are lucky and have the time, looking at trends so they can proactively respond. However, there is an even bigger opportunity that I think many leaders are missing completely.
While the baby boomers are in the process of retiring now and taking a LOT of knowledge and experience with them from the corporate world, we have a huge incoming group of new employees from Gen Y & Gen Z joining the work world. It often seems like the expectations and requirements of this group are vastly different than any other generation entering the job market.
At times, they are perceived as spoiled and entitled but it was a real eye opener in my recent interview with Kristen Hadeed, CEO of Student Made, that this group simply doesn’t have certain skill sets since that we take for granted. For example, the majority of this group has grown up with the internet and smartphones but hasn’t necessarily used their phones to communicate by making phone calls. Simply, they may feel intimidated by that.
This is also the generation that is inheriting a world of complete chaos and huge global problems that need to be addressed NOW, not in another decade. They see the corporate world as the cause of many of these problems…and they are right! They have no interest in working for companies that they perceive as a part of the problem. Rather, they are looking for purpose-driven companies that are here to treat people well and make a positive impact, companies that are a part of the solution. Considering that Gen Y and Gen Z will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, it’s time to start listening and adapting to how THEY would like to work.
Herein lies the biggest opportunity for companies…create a purpose-driven company with an amazing culture that both customers and employees are raving fans of and are working on a solution for the future. It might sound easy, but it takes deliberate, conscious, and consistent work.
One of the major concerns for CEOs is NOT having the right talent to drive their business forward and reach their objectives. To attract the best talent, I believe companies must authentically be purpose-driven and develop a culture that fosters growth and the opportunity for their people to reach their full potential.
Having a bigger purpose for the company, or a noble cause, will not only attract the top talent but also endear customers to the company as well. This also helps in raising capital and with acquisitions. Being purpose-driven gives a clear and meaningful direction for a company to follow and helps to solve many other issues along the journey.
Companies can be the drivers in solving our global problems right now much more so than governments, NGOs or media. Even the latest Edelman Trust Barometer shows that employers have the highest level of trust of any institutions at this time.
The future of business—and the greatest opportunity—is to be genuinely purpose-driven and create an amazing culture. Leaders who understand this are going to rise to the top and these companies will thrive in the coming years.