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The viewpoint of “Generation Y”

Jan. 21, 2014
If there’s a single reason for the trucking industry to pay very close attention to the mindset of “younger workers” it is simply this: by 2025, a scant 11 years from now, “Generation Y” individuals aged 18 to 32 years – also known as “Millennials” – are expected to make up 75% of the global workforce.

If there’s a single reason for the trucking industry to pay very close attention to the mindset of “younger workers” it is simply this: by 2025, a scant 11 years from now, “Generation Y” individuals aged 18 to 32 years – also known as “Millennials” – are expected to make up 75% of the global workforce.

Think about that for a minute. No longer will the industry be faced with the perplexing question of how to attract “younger folks” into the truck driving and repair professions; in a little over a decade from now, three quarters of the workforce will be comprised of only “younger folks.”

That’s a pretty stark situation to contemplate for an industry still grappling with an ongoing truck driver shortage that shows no signs of abating anytime soon.

Now, while I’ve touched on the whole issue of “younger worker” viewpoints in this space before, it’s worth another look as global consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) just released the findings from its third annual Millennial Survey – findings that Barry Salzberg (seen at right), DTTL’s CEO, said point to “significant challenges” facing business leaders if they are to meet the expectations of the so-called “Millennial” generation.

"To attract and retain talent business needs to show Millennials it is innovative and in tune with their world view," he said Salzberg. "Our society – globally – faces many critical issues and it has become clear no sector should 'go it alone.' Across the globe, 70% of tomorrow's future leaders might 'reject' what business as traditionally organized has to offer, preferring to work independently through digital means in the future.”

DTTL’s survey found that Millennials want to work for organizations that foster innovative thinking, develop their skills, and wish to see them make a positive contribution to society. The firm’s study also reveals that Millennials believe businesses are not currently doing as much as they could to develop their leadership skills and that they need to nurture their future leaders, especially as they cannot count on them biding their time until senior positions arise.

"It is clear that Millennials want to innovate and businesses should be listening," added Salzberg. "Fostering a culture of innovation will not only help retain high-performing talent but it will also drive growth by creating opportunities for individuals to unlock the next game-changing innovations."

Here are some other findings from DTTL’s Millennial survey that, while not trucking specific, should give carriers an idea regarding the outlook many “younger workers” maintain regarding the business world:

  • Business could achieve more: While most Millennials (74%) believe business is having a positive impact on society by generating jobs (48 percent) and increasing prosperity (71%), they think business can do much more to address society's challenges in the areas of most concern: resource scarcity (68%), climate change (65%) and income equality (64%). Additionally, 50% of Millennials surveyed want to work for a business with ethical practices.
  • Government is not doing enough: Millennials say government has the greatest potential to address society's biggest issues but are overwhelmingly failing to do so. Almost half feel governments are having a negative impact on areas identified as among the top challenges: unemployment (47%), resource scarcity (43%), and income inequality (56%). 
  • Organizations must foster innovative thinking: Millennials want to work for organizations that support innovation. In fact, DTTL’s survey found that 78% of Millennials are influenced by how innovative a company is when deciding if they want to work there, but most say their current employer does not greatly encourage them to think creatively.  They believe the biggest barriers to innovation are management attitude (63%), operational structures and procedures (61%), and employee skills, attitudes, and lack of diversity (39%).
  • Organizations must nurture emerging leaders: Over one in four Millennials are 'asking for a chance' to show their leadership skills. Additionally, 75% believe their organizations could do more to develop future leaders.
  • Millennials are eager to make a difference: Millennials believe the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance, with a focus on improving society among the most important things it should seek to achieve. Millennials are also charitable and keen to participate in 'public life': 63% of Millennials donate to charities, 43% actively volunteer or are a member of a community organization, and 52% have signed petitions.

Now, any veteran of the trucking business might very well scoff at some of the “high minded” notions Millennials seem to be carrying around in their heads. But in many ways that’s beside the point because, again, these folks will make up 75% of the available labor pool by the end of the decade.

So whether you agree with their take on things or not, the viewpoints of Millennials will need to be reckoned with in some fashion as they’ll be practically the only workers available to drive and fix the trucks that help keep our nation’s economy humming.

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