Have you ever thought about the age range of your employees? Take a look around and the chances are you they may range from their teens through to their late sixties. And that’s great – there’s a lot to be said for having age diversity in the workplace. But have you ever considered how an employee’s age influences both the way they work and their ability to manage the rapid technological advances the UK’s manufacturing sector is witnessing?
When we talk about technology nowadays, it’s developments such as Industry 4.0, robotisation, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence that spring to mind, but as the renowned American scientist, Alan Kay, once said “Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born.” As technology advances, generations understandably become more digital and more willing to embrace technological change.
Take ‘Baby Boomers’, for example. Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are considered to be extremely hardworking, confident, independent and competitive. If you have Baby Boomers in your business today, they could be in active employment for another 12 years. This generation has had to adapt to technology later in their working lives.
Then there are the ‘Millenials’, also known as Generation Y. Born between 1980 and the mid-1990s, Millenials are often perceived as being entitled, needy and self-centered, but this is just a negative stereotype and in the workplace Millenials are often recognised for being creative, flexible, open-minded and, importantly, very tech-savvy. Millennials are fundamentally the reason the Internet of Things (IoT) came into being in the first place, and why it will only continue to grow. 91% of Millennials own a smartphone* and spend a minimum of six hours** online a day. This is a generation that expects to be able to interact with everyone and everything in an inherently digital way, whether at home or in the workplace.
Then, wedged somewhere in the middle of these two generations is the less talked about ‘Generation X’. Known as the ‘work hard, play hard’ generation, Generation X-ers were born between 1965 and 1980, so are now in their forties and fifties. An estimated two thirds of the UK workforce is made up of Millenials and Generation X-ers, so I’d put money on a high percentage of your workforce falling in to this group. I want to take a closer look at why Generation X-ers have so much to offer to today’s manufacturing sector.
There are some who believe Generation X-ers can be set in their ways and slow to embrace new technologies. But our experience at K3 Syspro is quite the opposite.
The best of both worlds
Firstly, your Generation X employees are likely to have unparalleled business and industry knowledge. Consider them as your ‘intellectual capital’. The longer they’re in your business, the more invaluable their knowledge becomes to you and your customers. And while we’re talking about customers, Generation-Xers understand, more than any other generation, the importance of human interaction and customer service – understanding that will prove invaluable as the manufacturing sector becomes increasingly focused on servitization.
Also, we mustn’t forget that Generation X grew up with the rapid advancement of technology when computing and the Internet became widely accessible – they effectively created the Internet! Just think about the vast technological developments Generation X-ers have experienced in their lifetimes: from carting around ‘mobile’ phones the size of toasters to sending the very first emails and text messages! They’ve gone from an entirely analogue childhood to a digital adulthood, embracing the vast and varying developments over the years.
And in the manufacturing sector, Generation X-ers have experienced the shift from traditional Materials Resource Planning systems right through to the more modern areas of relational database management systems and the advent of Cloud ERP.
A powerful combination
So, what does all of this mean for your business? Generation X-ers may not have grown up with technology in the way that Millenials have, but they have certainly embraced it and will be an important and valuable asset over the coming decade as the IoT transforms manufacturing businesses. Generation X’s knowledge and expertise of ERP software evolvement, coupled with Millenials’ unparalleled immersion in all things digital, is a powerful combination that can benefit your business – and that of your entire supply chain.
It’s a partnership of technology and expertise that can ensure a successful business performance as we’ve seen at first hand here at K3 Syspro, where our experienced multi-generational workforce work together to design and develop industry-leading ERP solutions that match the needs of your business.