As the job market becomes more and more competitive, with hundreds of candidates all going for one role, we are seeing a change in the way that people begin their working lives. The younger working generation of today have entrepreneurial aspirations that are bringing new motivations and values to the workplace, and inevitably making for very different business and career trajectories. These are entrepreneurs who are both starting their own ventures as well as being entrepreneurial within large organisations. Long gone is the stereotype of the lazy ‘straight out of university’ employee – this new entrepreneurial class is here to make a difference and shake up the conventional definitions of employment and the workplace.
The new generation is approaching entrepreneurialism, and life generally, with more patience. They know that fundamental change takes time and that sustainable growth is better achieved over the longer term. However, they also want to feel like they are making a difference to the organisation, and have genuine responsibility. Many of this generation would have grown up with a style of parenting that encouraged empowerment and allowed them to make decisions as a family. This should be repurposed in the workplace, with opportunities given to them so they can take responsibility and develop their entrepreneurial nature.
Nevertheless, many people still have the impression that, in today’s culture of vloggers and social influencers, members of the younger generation expect to become rich and famous overnight. But this is not the case with the new entrepreneurial class, who tend to reject immediate gratification and short-term returns, knowing that they will likely result in less success in the future. They have a desire to shape where they work and contribute to society, culture and community in a significant way. These shifts, from short term to long term, and from immediacy to patience, are fundamental to achieving their entrepreneurial goals.
New entrepreneurs view networks less as collections of people, and more like family – people who they can turn to and depend on, who they have richer, mutually dependent relationships with. They understand that there has to be hierarchy within an business, but this does not mean that people in higher positions have to behave in a hierarchal manner. This generation wants to be tied directly to the leaders and senior heads, hearing from them about the organisation’s mission and how it works.
In today’s world the gap between the younger and older generations is massive in terms of digital knowledge. Therefore, senior leaders can teach this younger class using the breadth of experience they have gained over the years, and the younger generation can return the favour by giving advice on how to adapt in this ever-changing digital landscape. This will create a mutually beneficial relationship that will encourage the new class to make use of their skills and feel valued – ultimately driving their entrepreneurial spirit within the business.
There is a new lexicon emerging among new entrepreneurs, moving away from a focus on taking risks, to taking responsibility – responsibility for your organisation, your people, your community and the planet. This generation wants to be able to change the world for good and make a difference to other people’s lives, not just their own. They want to be able to drive an organisation’s positive impact on the environment, its community involvement and its social responsibility. There is a feeling of optimism among them that values society and wants to make it better for the future – something that is needed in our current climate.
Within the workplace, the old school structure of being at a desk from nine to five does not fit in with the personality of this new class. They want to be able to interact with the people they work with and create a positive working environment that allows freedom. Many feel flexibility is one of the most important factors in an organisation, because it allows them to pursue their entrepreneurial desires while also being part of their company’s community. A recent study found that this generation is unwilling to sacrifice its out-of-office time in return for financial compensation, because they understand the value of removing yourself from a working environment and exploring new opportunities.
This is by no means is to say that new entrepreneurs are not interested in wealth; however, they are more interested in what wealth brings, rather than the simple act of accumulating. More specifically, wealth offers more than the opportunity for acquisitions: it offers the ability to learn, experience and enrich communities.
Trevor Hardy is CEO of The Future Laboratory