29 Sep 2020 16:17 IST

Welcome to the new world of perennials

Perennials are those who are inclusive, passionate, creative, confident people of all ages who live in the present

Ever since Gina Pell coined the term “perennials” in one of her posts in Medium, this term picked up a lot of interest. She clarifies that this is more of a mindset. We are familiar with the references to different generations as Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y or Millennials. The idea of “perennial” is to break free from this generational divide and description.

Perennial includes people of all ages who come across as curious, and also carry a clear growth mindset. This became necessary even as many of us ascribed certain characteristics to age-related categorisation or generation. In reality, we all recognise and notice that there is an overlap of behaviours between generational cohorts. Thus, the neologism of perennial is more of a mindset.

In short, Perennials can be described as inclusive, relevant, passionate, compassionate, creative, confident people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world and stay current with technology. Keeping this in mind, it is about time that organisations relooked at their strategies — be it marketing or people-related strategy. This requires noticing a clear and visible trend in terms of a shift in values as to how perennials make decisions when it comes to buying or even working. Policies and brand strategies focused on just the millennials or any other generation will not succeed. This is quite a difficult reality to accept for many professionals in every domain of work — branding and marketing, human resources, and even technology.

Sniff out fakers

Authenticity and trustworthiness are two key expectations from perennials. They can easily sniff out a faker miles away! This mindset teaches us many things such as:

· Organisations and leaders have to be inclusive and not divisive (in term of generations)

· Be aware of the unconscious biases including stereotypes we tend to assign to different generations

· We do not follow ‘one-shoe fits all” policies and programmes. Instead, provide flexibility to offer a basket of different programmes that address the needs of perennials

This shift in thinking requires transformative leadership and courage. This represents a very different outlook about our people and how to manage them.

Talent strategies must be revisited to inform and differentiate our approach towards the multiple generations we have at work. Today, technology can be leveraged to understand, analyse, and create more relevant insights and based on that, appropriate employee experience strategies that attract, engage, and motivate our people. This helps our employees to pursue a purpose that is very unique to them, besides enhancing meaning from work.

Talent management

From a sheer preparedness point of view, some studies indicate that only 6 per cent of organisations are equipped to lead a multi-generational workforce effectively. As a result, their policies are very focused on the traditional way of segmenting talent and managing them. For example, careers today have become more dynamic and complex at the same time taking the historic correlation between age and career progression. With the emergence of the ‘gig workforce,’ many baby boomers are returning to work and starting their “second career.”

Lindsey Pollak in her book, The Remix- How to lead and succeed in the Multi-generational Workplace, addresses this very well. She says, “The longer I study generations in the workplace, the more similarities I find in what people want out of work. Those fundamentals - meaning, purpose, good leaders, professional growth – don’t change. What changes is how each generation expresses these needs and what expectations we have about our employers’ fulfilment of them.”

Everything we have known and believe about the following will change:

· Demographics – age and gender

· Firmographics – company size, job tenure, role and industry

· Attitude towards life – optimism toward future

· Attitude towards work – Work-life balance, attitude towards retirement

It is important that leaders pay attention to examining, evaluating, and enlisting newer approaches to managing the Perennials.