At last - The young have found their voice

As I read the newspapers this weekend, it occurred to me that the young appear to have found their voice. They flocked to the polls on election day in greater numbers than we have seen for a long time. It seems like the young have decided that they are no longer willing for older people to dictate what happens with regard to their futures. I am so pleased that the younger generation have started to engage proactively with their future.

For many many months, in the HR professional newsletters and magazines, we have been reading about what 'Millennials' and 'Generation Y' employees want from work. For the most part though they appear to have been fairly silent about it, putting up with whatever management style has come their way. In reading about their impact on this election, it made me wonder whether their voices will get stronger within the workplace. I do hope so. That would force many businesses, run by older and up to now seemingly wiser people, to take their needs more into account. As a business leader, I look forward to the impact of younger voices being heard and taken seriously with regard to their workplaces.

Why do I say that? Forced to take lower wages, minimal training, more flexible and less secure employment, according to all the narrative from the CIPD and others, perhaps now businesses will be forced to take their futures more seriously. I think back to the training, development and support that came my way in the early days of my HR career, and how that has helped me in my life, both as an employee and as a business owner. It has always saddened me that many businesses no longer rate skill development and good quality training as important. Hopefully now younger workers will begin to fight for the good times that I, and others like me, had when we started our careers.

A company that we have worked with has stopped its development programme because it has raised expectations of the business in terms of what its younger workers want. It is clear from the involvement that we have had that younger workers want clear career paths, they want to be involved and engaged in their businesses and they want to feel they can make a difference. Unfortunately for them, that has made the (older) leaders nervous and they don't know how to handle it. What the younger workers are actually asking for is strong leadership from their directors. They want to know the direction the business is going in and the part they are going to play in taking it there.

As the country faces ever increasing skills shortages, surely it pays organisations to meet the needs of its younger workers and meet the leadership challenge that they find themselves presented with? While the world appears to be going mad, it is up to business leaders to focus on what they want their business to look like in 5 and 10 years time. As part of that they also need to ask, who is going to be ready to take on the leadership roles when they have all retired. It is much too important to leave that to chance!