The Agility of the Young Assignee Workforce Improves Productivity

With technology changing faster than many of us can adapt to it, the capability to move with the new changes happening in business, the workforce, the global market, and government regulations is a factor for survival. Agility will become the new normal, and is fast becoming a core value that numerous organizations are embracing.

Agility means creating change and it requires innovation like developing new products, creating new sales channels, reducing product development time, and customizing production for smaller market segments.

Those who cannot adapt will fall by the wayside. The once formidable traditional industries like banking, hotel, and retail face serious challenges from innovators in the rising and dominant sectors like fintech, ride-sharing, and ecommerce.

However, the idea of enough structure, but not too much, drives agile managers to keep asking the question, “How little structure can I get away with?” Too much structure stifles creativity. Too little structure breeds inefficiency.

The question for global mobility managers is where to strike a balance and how fast they need to adapt, “How agile do I need to be? And how do I become agile?”

Global mobility managers can take their cue from the young assignee workforce who comes from the millennial and the zentennial generations and see agile development and management in the way they work and run their businesses. Millennials are in their early thirties to late forties, while their professional siblings, the zentennials or Gen Z, are in their early to mid-20’s.

These assignees do not just adapt to and survive change; they actually thrive on it and demand that it happens. It’s not just because of the short 8-second attention span that most people — notably senior managers — tend to blame. Millennials and Gen Z grew up in a world that is constantly shifting, where products, services, policies, rules, and even geographical locations seem to be in a state of flux.

Think of it this way: if the GenXers and the Baby Boomers liken their career to building a structure on solid rock, millennials and Gen Z see it as an ocean-going vessel that rides the waves to get from one island to another.

According to Talent Culture, this young workforce has always seen itself as a mobile workforce. Mobility is the norm, not the exception. It applies to the way they make decisions, choose their companies, relocate their homes, and explore options in their career. They know that they will always be moving around.

Experience is a currency that they value. That’s why they are always eager to learn. At this point, it might be wise to re-examine old preconceptions that claim these generations are entitled or lazy. That they can shift from one business model to another, navigate the next social media network site, and immediately grasp the application of tech solutions just off the pipeline reveals a spirit that is willing to explore, as well as a mind that is willing to inquire.

The young assignee workforce also sees global mobility as a series of stepping stones to a career that they want to find fulfillment in. They just do not want to return home after a two-year stint in Northern California, for example, but will eagerly apply for the next assignment perhaps in another U.S. state.

They can forego the traditional longer expatriate assignments for shorter project-based work arrangements that will give them the opportunity to breeze through several regions in Europe in less than a year.

All that means is that they will have to develop the skills, the smarts, and the energy to learn all they can possibly learn about these destinations of employment.

The culture of the city or region, the language, the business etiquette, the government rules and regulations, the national policies that can impact their company and work. Learning all that within a short period of time and applying it to one’s work everyday suggests an extraordinary capacity to adapt and continually learn.

So how fast do global mobility managers have to be to keep up with the times, and their young charges? Forget the so-called limitations of age, and the boundaries of job descriptions. Rather get an inside look at how the young workforce is moving with the changes and making it work for them, and then — in their own mature way — create the parameters that will enhance their agility.