This post is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but a recent headline in Forbes announced “LIKE IT OR NOT, MILLENNIALS ARE OFFICIALLY THE FUTURE OF WORK.” My first response was “duh.” In reality what the article was announcing was that Millennials are the PRESENT of the workforce. They have officially taken over as they largest segment in the workforce.
Over one third
As author John Paul Titlow says in his article “Millennials are officially the biggest generation of the U.S. workforce. Approximately one third of U.S. workers—53.5 million people in all—are a part of that generation.” The Gen Xers make up 52.7 million and the Baby Boomers make up 44.7 million. The Silent Generation, the very senior workers still have 3.7 million representatives in the workplace.
In total there are about 80 million Millennials in the United States and that number will not increase. However, some of the younger ones will enter the workforce so the number working will go up. If you are not yet adapting to this generation then you will soon or be going out of business. Of course the approaches to work, the wants and desires of this generation will change the nature of work just as did the Baby Boomers in their time.
So indeed the Millennials are the future of work in the near term. But what about in a longer term? Generation Z, sometimes called the Plurals, worldwide is an even bigger generation in numbers and still being born. In the US this is the most diverse of any generation in the U.S.; Frank Magid, who coined the term “Plurals” estimates that 55% are Caucasian, 24% are Hispanic, 14% are African-American, 4% are Asian, and 4% are mixed race or other. Take that worldwide and those numbers will radically change.
The “Plurals” will then be the “future of work” and it will be even more different to deal with than the Millennials. We will have to deal with more global considerations. I think that US companies will have to pay attention to global populations of workers rather than just those located in the US. Due to the interconnectedness of technologies in 10 to 15 years your working population may not be confined to the US, even with small companies. You will then be dealing with a diversity that has not been seen.
The Secret to dealing with the Future of Work
The future of work is going to be a lot of things. It is going to be wider diversity. It is going to be more global. It is to be more automated. It is going to consist of things as of yet unimagined by most of us. In order to be prepared for this the key secret will be flexibility. If you are adaptive and can incorporate changes as they occur then you will be able to handle the future. If you resist the mass of changes will bury you and you will become part of the fossil record. It is your choice.