January 4, 2020
Jacki HartThere is a paradigm shift upon us that has been creeping into many industries for about 10 years. In this past year, it seems to have reached a critical mass. Those who don’t fully embrace it are being left behind in the labour market. It’s a transformational metamorphosis of our labour force, being driven by unexpected agents of change — not by the economy, but by younger generations that are thankfully joining our business teams.

If the terms: ‘gig economy,’ ‘boomerang employees’ and ‘tours of duty’ are unfamiliar, it’s time for you to get with this paradigm shift that is now upon us. I’ve created a new thought-leader term for it: the ‘Boom-X Paradigm’ as it applies to the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers who make up the majority of employers at the present time. Let me explain…

The way in which we recruit and seek employment has been turned upside down. If you’re an employer, I’d dare to wager that you had at least one candidate not show up for an interview this past year. For the tech savvy, finding a job, or for that matter, a better job, is like finding a new pair of jeans — just search, click, and you get what you want, when you want it. There so much to choose from. That’s why many don’t show up for interviews. They browsed your job posting like a store in a mall — with so much selection out there, the choice then becomes one of convenience and the best deal. This is the impact of technology on recruiting and job hunting.

For several years, I’ve been reading, observing, listening and brainstorming on the subject of employee attitudes. I’m absolutely convinced that our biggest labour challenge is rooted in how employers think about the structure of their business and the people who work there. Using the same jeans shopping analogy, selling your brand ahead of the competition is more about convenience, simplicity and appeal to the buyer. Jobs are the item for sale and Millennials and Gen Z are the buyers. And God bless them, because they are forcing us to reinvent old, stale habits.

I believe our companies aren’t unappealing because of what we do, but because of how we think. In fact, what we do in the landscape field is totally aligned with Millennials’ desire to contribute to the overall good of the climate, communities and the environment. We need to transform our ways and tap into this fact to solve our labour crisis. Employers need to learn how to navigate the Boom-X Paradigm shift — and FAST! Many employers still think about filling seats in trucks and not what the criteria are to match the mindset of those they seek to bring on board.

Gone are the days of hiring labourers and treating them as such. No self-respecting Millennial is going to be treated as a labourer. This wonderful, creative generation is looking for more opportunity. They want to bring meaning to their day by making purposeful contributions to the big picture and being a part of the solutions and success. They want to be included, and despite what you think, they are not lazy. If you engage them properly, you won’t be able to keep up with them.

In the past, business success across many industries has been achieved by focusing on efficiency, in a stable and highly-predictable environment. Workers chose a trade and stuck with one career, or one company, for life. It was an era when people were managed as a commodity to produce profit. I’ll paraphrase Simon Sinek’s formula: People + Productivity = Profit.

Today, we face a different reality which is unstable and highly unpredictable. This new reality is made up of changing attitudes toward work and a rapidly-changing marketplace. Recent statistics across all industries indicate that 80 per cent of employees under the age of 35 will change jobs every three to five years. The reasons for job change vary, but ‘lousy boss’ is the highest ranked, and better pay one of the lowest.

I have come to believe that what has made our industry successful in the past (People + Productivity = Profit) is a big part of what’s holding us back from success now and will in the future. The Boom-X Paradigm is shifting to both a focus on effectiveness and engagement in a way never thought of before now. Profit now must be managed as a commodity used to grow and nurture the people. This new reality demands a new formula for success:
People + Purpose = Performance.

I’ve spent the last year developing ways to help employers deploy fresh thinking to solve stale problems — and they’re getting better results — so I’ve seen first-hand and know there’s more to solving the labour shortage than looking at attracting different demographic groups. As an industry, we need to engage, equip and empower our teams and ignite leaders with new beliefs. The Boom-X Paradigm is here to stay!

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Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager