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“It makes sense that it can be difficult to watch a new generation come in and demand the type of freedom that every generation wanted. We need to honor the sacrifice that was made and then move forward in order to make a more humane workplace.” -Kim Lear, Founder & Content Director, Inlay Insights

SUMMIT 2019 is guaranteed to be packed with top HR industry thought leaders… this year’s keynote among them. Kim Lear, founder and content director of Inlay Insights, will present her thoughts and relevant findings to attendees during the session “Preparing for the Future: Leveraging Demographic Shifts & New Workplace Trends.” Lear, a writer focused on generational patterns, will speak to her cutting-edge research about how the traditional “American Dream” is being re-examined, and the great period of flux the country’s workforce is now in. Continuing reading for her thoughts on organizational structure and current HR trends.

HR Leader: Based on your expertise in generational trends, what do you think HR needs to consider about talent recruitment strategy in order to attract young hires?

Kim Lear (KL): One of the most important things to realize is that the newest generation to enter the workforce is not the Millennials. It’s Generation Z (Gen Z). As we’ll discuss during the keynote in November, different recruitment messaging is resonating with Gen Z than what we saw Millennials respond to. Five years ago, recruitment messaging was often centered on meaning and impact. I think we’ll start to see a shift to a more pragmatic and realistic sales pitch as the recruitment focus begins to center on Gen Z.

HR Leader: What is one trend you’re noticing currently in HR? How does it compare to the emerging cultural trends you study?

KL: Although it’s not a new trend, I am impressed with the amount of focus HR is putting on transformational change in the diversity and inclusion space. I think creating inclusive environments is going to become increasingly important as Gen Z enters the workplace. According to the U.S. Census, approximately half of kids in America will belong to a minority race or ethnic group by 2020.

HR Leader: What does the “American Dream” mean to you, and how do you think it’s being re-examined in the workplace?

KL: In my research, I try to keep my own views out of it in order to have a more objective perspective on measurable trends. The concept of the “American Dream” is centered on mobility. It’s the idea that things like hard work and loyalty can help you have a better life than your parents had. We could argue all day about if this remains true…and some people do. However, in the workplace, we look at how concepts like sacrifice and loyalty have changed over time. The idea of getting married, having children, buying a home in the suburbs with a white picket fence and working at the same company for most of your career may no longer be aspirational. If this is no longer the dream, it’s time to explore what is and how the workplace needs to adjust.

HR Leader: In today’s typical corporate office, would you advocate for more or less flexible work hours and work from home policies? Why?

KL: This is dependent on the type of talent you’re trying to recruit and the nature of the work. In healthcare, for example, flex work is rarely an option. However, I do believe that in many workplaces there is an element of generational hazing which has halted the autonomy that many workers crave. Generational hazing is essentially holding onto the idea that no one can have what you have unless they go through what you went though. This is a very human response to change. Many Boomers and Gen Xers who I speak with will tell me about the sacrifices they had to make in order to get to where they are today. There were missed anniversary dinners and soccer games. There were late nights at the office and brutal travel schedules. It makes sense that it can be difficult to watch a new generation come in and demand the type of freedom that every generation wanted. We need to honor the sacrifice that was made and then move forward in order to make a more humane workplace. People don’t want their time policed and technology can open doors to the type of autonomy and freedom that can benefit everyone.

HR Leader: Is there a current cultural trend you perceive as a “fad” that you don’t see being implemented long-term? Why?

KL: At this point, research has proven that collaborative workspaces are bad for productivity and for encouraging collaboration. We’re already seeing organizations shift to a more diversified approach – some open space, private space, dedicated desks, lounge areas, etc.

HR Leader: Leading up to SUMMIT 2019, is there anything you would like our audience to read before attending your keynote?

KL: Adam Grant is one of my favorite thinkers on workplace trends. His research never fails to surprise me so I would recommend his work to anyone. His podcast, WorkLife, is a great place to start.

Register to hear from Kim in-person at SUMMIT 2019, November 19 at Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL.