Bridging the gap between generations. The solution to managing the modern workforce

South Australian Business News  •  HR and workplace relations  •  Business Advice
Anthony Caldwell
Tuesday, May 14th 2024

Job hoppers, high expectations, unmotivated, needy, independent, strong willed – these are just some of the keywords a quick Google search of the term younger worker’ returns. 

Younger workers often bear the brunt of unfair stereotypes driven by anecdotes, social media perceptions, and the aspirations of a new generation navigating a post-COVID world.

Michelle Mennillo, Chief Executive of OTFC Group (Occupational Therapy for Children), attests to some of these traits but emphasises how her team of over 50 younger workers inspires her to think, manage, and act differently, both professionally and personally.

This generation redefines hard work, challenging my traditional notions,” she said. 

When I was young, hard work meant burning the midnight oil, persisting even when burnt out. This generation, however, prioritises sustainability and productivity in their approach.”

Michelle Mennillo — OTFC (Left) with team members.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the median age of a business owner or manager in Australia is 48. This statistic brings together projections indicating that by 2023, Gen Z (aged 12 – 27) will constitute 30% of the workforce. 

A recent Gen Z at Work’ report by Thought Exchange underscores this shift, revealing that 96% of Gen Z employees seek to feel valued, included, and empowered at work. 

Additionally, 80% prioritise jobs that allow for skill exploration and development, while 79% expect their managers to prioritise both their professional and personal growth. 

Surprisingly, 53% consider workplace benefits crucial when evaluating job opportunities, showing a willingness to accept lower pay for comprehensive non-monetary benefits.

The disparity in expectations between generations, if not effectively managed, has the potential to disrupt organisational culture, productivity, and staff retention. 

Recognising this challenge, the South Australian Business Chamber has introduced a new one-day course titled Managing a Modern Generation’ aimed at bridging the gap between leaders and younger staff.

Ms Mennillo emphasises the importance of understanding one’s staff, a realisation she arrived at through continuous learning. It’s about being authentic and transparent as a leader,” she said. 

Clarity in expectations and creative solutions that accommodate everyone is key.”

The Chamber’s course empowers leaders to gain a deeper understanding of managing the younger generation, providing the knowledge, skills, and insights necessary for effective leadership in a dynamic and tech-savvy workplace.

Find out more.


Anthony Caldwell

Manager, Marketing, Media, Communications
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