What’s more, automation may squelch roles that were traditionally a foot in the door. “There is value in ‘starting off in the mailroom,’ and businesses will struggle organically growing talent that fundamentally understands a business from the ground up without these kinds of opportunities,” warns Elder. “The lack of entry-level jobs also creates many more missed opportunities for businesses to earn the loyalty of a new generation of talent.”
Part of preparing for the future of work will be identifying what skill gaps need to close and who can bridge those gaps—a new generation of talent or existing workers, or both. Once companies identify those gaps, Meagan Johnson says they need to make career development opportunities available to everyone within the company and really lean into that investment—and that includes giving employees the time they need to develop those skills.
“Younger generations, when they’re looking for places to work, they are looking at organizations that invest in their employees,” Johnson says. “The younger generation wants to feel that ‘hey, you know what, my employer cares about me and my development,’ and part of that is (asking), ‘What is my employer doing to make sure that my skillset remains up to date?’”
To make sure that inter-generational knowledge transfer occurs, Johnson says companies need to make sure people are connecting and engaging with each other, even within dispersed work models, and they can do that through technology. “You just don’t want technology to alienate one another, and the alienation comes from how different generations perceive technology,” she explains. “But the beauty is that chat apps, Zoom, Teams allow us to engage with one another, and this (technology) also allows us to perform the work with a lot more flexibility, because it’s not really how you get the job done, it’s the quality of the work, and the quality of the work will remain high when we can have that inter-generational knowledge transfer.”