We need to acknowledge that there has and are many dedicated and successful business leaders, entrepreneurs in our country, building very reputable and profitable organisations providing employment for thousands and thousands of our people over time. This is perhaps in contrast to the rhetoric and opinions that we hear in today’s public and media space about many organisation’s motives etc.

There will be those who have witnessed a myriad of changes along the way and have parried those difficulties encountered with their own brand of resourcefulness, ingenuity and resilience. As that generation settles into the last part of their careers (the anticipated witching date is scheduled to start in 2023, only seven years away. I apologise in advance to those who have no intention of retiring at the official date).

Are there ways we can use their transition for everyone’s benefit given what we believe may happen in Australian workplaces in that seven to ten year period?

Their continuing input could be still vital to the development of our economy in the coming years. The question legitimately being asked is “In their remaining time left in the business world are they and the remaining community willingly to work together to deal with the known and major expected changes.in the next few years?”. I would predict that the entrance of the Millennials into their respective businesses coupled with ongoing technological advancements which are bringing with it a different perspective to how we operate now and into the coming years. It is clear that some currently in business see this to be a total anathema how they have operated in the past.

Similarly it cannot be disputed some sections of the more mature generations have had great difficulty in  coming to terms with the rate of change that has occurred and is continuing as we speak. Much trepidation was expressed at the time of the introduction into the landscape by the last generational group to enter into the workforce; we saw a rather unbalanced focus of their respective negative attributes and skills and the reality today is that integration is progressively taking place without business being crippled as was once predicted by a number of naysayers, so it shows it can be done but only with more open minds how it can be achieved.

In 2016 we have much bigger challenges in our workplaces to consider; these being the Engagement of not only that particular generation but across the spectrum of our structures. This may not make pleasant reading but here in Australia we have scored the third worst levels in the world in 2015. To be fair this is not just a problem for business or a whole generation but also academia, government and the willingness to adopt a different mindset in dealing with a host of internal and external factors which are affecting how we work and live.

It has been popular to compare our situation to global entities such as Google, Microsoft, and Walmart in order we can follow what they are achieving with their people; quite frankly in my opinion it is whimsical and unrealistic, the size and structure of our businesses are so different. Of course we can learn some things from those examples but before we do that we have to make a crucial decision. Taking the words from former Prime Minister Paul Keating “Do we want to be in it”, (referring to our engagement with Asia Pacific). That is to say are our organisations   ready to commit to tackling what is before them not relying on everything that has gone behind them. It is apparent we still have a lot of ground to cover.

As a regular commentator having experienced many real time front line experiences with these issues much of the theory vented around this topic in my view does not correlate with the application in everyday life. Unless organisations and people attempt to forge strong committed relationships any short terms fixes will undoubtedly fail leaving the entity weaker than before the truth that many do not have the trust collateral they once might have had.

The conundrum we seek to solve relates to dealing with convergence, where there is change on so many fronts- we are struggling to catch up,  examining the changing aspirations of people and education of realities.

The most likely outcome for success will only be achieved when organisations determine their own personal engagement and culture model within the resources at their particular disposal. The analysis of new ways to utilise the technologies at our doorstep together with using the constant asset we possess (unfortunately some past glib references have damaged this real point).

History reveals that there is plenty of evidence that major changes can be absorbed by people and society; we have to decide whether that the path we choose to take is  rather too difficult  or that coordinated team work will see us through whatever the our generational position. As it has always been so; it is down to the will of people.

Ken Wood

Engagement & People Specialist

Banyan Management Services Pty Ltd