Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tell Me What You Want…Part II

Last week we identified three key factors that Millennials consider important when it comes to their careers:

_1 Upward Mobility
_2 Employee Empowerment
_3 Work-Life Balance

The challenge for all industries, and especially transportation/logistics, is figuring out how to address these conflicting goals and still get the work done.

I think most employers appreciate the desire for “Upward Mobility”. We want motivated employees. The challenge with some Millennials is their desire to move up immediately. They aren’t much for “paying dues”. Add in a desire for “work-life” balance in an industry where long-hours and sacrifice have been the norm and you have a real disconnect.

“Employee Empowerment” is something that businesses have been talking about for decades. But it’s been mostly talk and gimmicks. Millennials are serious about Employee Empowerment. Work groups, team building exercises and “open office” concepts are about as meaningful to Millennials as the company “Suggestion Box” was to their parents and grandparents. They really want a hand in running the business and, if not that, at least doing their specific job the way they think it should be done. And, do not be too critical when things don’t work out. There’s that whole self-esteem issue swirling in the background.

The challenge in transportation/logistics is that the work is mostly defined by time and space and deadlines and regulations and customer requirements and circumstances beyond ones control. It’s like herding cats while riding a unicycle and having someone shooting at you. This does mean, that to a certain degree, employees must be empowered to make decisions and solve problems. This is not robot work. In this regard, the industry may appeal to some Millennials. However, this is also not the place for freelancers. There are simply too many constraints and “employee empowerment” sometimes doesn’t feel very “empowering” to employees in this business.

“The Work-Life Balance” issue is more of a question than an issue. What does it mean? Once upon a time, it meant working six days a week from sun up to sun down and resting on Sunday (except for the chores that had to be done.) Then people got lazy and started taking off Saturday afternoon to go to town. Then they started taking off all day Saturday. And then came the 40 hour work week. Work-Life Balance has always been a noble objective. It just means different things to different generations. And Millennials are telling us it means “spending time with family, learning new things and living a long, healthy life.” While I’m not sure what that really means, I’m pretty sure that what it does NOT mean is working 11-12 hours per day (plus a commute), half-day on Saturday, being on call and/or signing on to “the system” from home to catch up on emails, reports, or just making sure that the cats have not run off, the unicycle isn’t broken and no one has been shot.

So where does this leave an industry that is starving for talent? I think it’s a two-part solution. And that will be the focus next time.

“Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man's envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 (ESV)

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