How to leverage main character energy to attract and retain young workers

Blame social media. Blame your over-enthusiastic parents. Blame the crises he has faced in his still short life. But Jens Y and Z are increasingly seeing themselves as the protagonists in their life stories. Employers who take a largely dim view of this growing trend do so at their own risk. Knowledgeable, winning, organizations, however, are the ones who recognize the motivation behind this deliberate mindset and who take care to write themselves in these scripts in a very positive way.

While all generations of Covid-19 affected workers laid off, they had a particularly negative impact on new generations of employees – Generation Y (Millennials) and Z. For Millennials, here defined as those born between 1982 and 2000, who struggled through the recessions of 2008 and 2009 and the Great Recession that followed, and, as a result, home ownership, marriage, Having postponed many major life decisions like starting families, and significant personal investments, many were hoping to make up for lost time as Covid arrived. And for the shiny new Gen Z workers (born between 2001 and 2019), the first of whom entered the workforce just before Covid – they grew up watching the effects of the Great Recession on their parents, which started were already determined. Do different things from your mom and dad. So, they went into the workforce, set out to change the world, and then COVID changed their plans.

For Millennials, this meant further postponement of major milestones. For the Zs, this meant stopping like they were starting. For both – raised in a world dominated by social media and raised by hovering adults that reassured them of their near-inaccuracy while taking steps to overcome feelings of failure or hurt – the shutdown of the COVID-19 also gave them time to reflect. their recent experiences at work. According to leaders in young people’s research Y pulse, 72% of a recent survey of Gen Y and Z respondents agreed with the statement: “Coronavirus has made me reevaluate what’s important to me.” What most of them concluded was quite simple: one, that they were no longer interested in accepting the unacceptable and two, that they just wanted to be happy. In the same YPulse survey, 68% of youth said it is positive when someone prioritizes their happiness. 79% of them also said that it is healthier to put yourself first. But it’s important to point out that for these young people, it’s not about being in the spotlight or being the center of the universe. In fact, according to the same YPulse survey, 52% said it is negative to be the center of attention, similarly 69% said it is not a good thing that the world revolves around them.

Look, it’s not an “I, I, I” thing; It’s simply an “I deserve to be happy,” thing. It’s about making decisions about work that adds joy to their lives and no longer making decisions or wasting time on things that prioritize their personal needs. From these basic feelings, the main character of the life mindset of the person was born, then it got momentum.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the main character of one’s life is a notion in which individuals, mainly youth, think of themselves as the protagonists in their life story and themselves with the action as supporting characters. Instead of being satisfied to be viewed as being around them or, worse, for them, they play a major role – actively taking control of their lives – putting their wants, needs, and desires first. Totally 55% of Ys and Zs, according to YPulse, still consider themselves the main character in their lives, a number that is actually higher among Millennials than Gen Zs. It’s a trend that shows no signs of stopping and one that presents enormous opportunities for employers to attract and retain these talented young workers – provided they move fast and behave in a genuine manner.

To do this, it is first important for employers to understand what main character energy is and isn’t about. For most young people, the main character energy is about becoming their best selves. It’s about things like building confidence, being more assertive and appreciative, and pursuing good things they might not have done before. As an example, 40% of youth say that the main character’s mindset has caused them to cut off a toxic friendship/relationship, while 19% have changed careers, and 12% have quit. Fully 75% of youth say they are simply trying to approach their lives with more intention. For this, both Gens Y and Z also believe in the power of manifestation; 70% of them, according to YPulse, believe that someone can believe or want something they want to exist. Likewise, part of the main character thinking involves romanticizing their lives. More than half of the youth, 58%, turn everyday moments into celebrations and do something to make the worldly things special. Remember, in its greatest sense, the main character’s thinking is about being the main character in the making of his or her own life.

What the main character vibe isn’t about is acting arrogant, trendsetting or selfish. In fact, when asked, 27%, 23% and 19% of YPulse respondents, respectively, associated main character energy with these characteristics. This is also not just a social media phenomenon. 50% of people surveyed by YPulse say they can be the main characters of their own lives without posting on social media, and only 23% of those who say they are trying to live a more deliberate life , actually post pictures or videos online that portray it. What matters most, however, is intention, and what small and medium enterprise employers looking to attract and engage these young workers should primarily focus on.

This is because for workers of any age, intentionality is an important differentiating characteristic. People who consciously go to work tend to be clear about what they want out of life and their careers. Their daily actions are shaped and directed in such a way that they make progress towards those goals. Determination increases courage as well as focus and determination. Appreciation, gratitude and respect for the efforts of others also multiplies. These things happen because these young workers stop relying on others to build their future and instead take charge of their own lives. By working with them and not against them, employers can influence the future of work in a profoundly positive way. I spoke to Gigi Robinson, a Gen-Z chronic illness and mental health advocate, about this phenomenon and the implications for employers. She told me, “While the trend of “main character” has grown primarily from the way people portray themselves on social media, it’s a reflection of how they want to appear as a person — especially In terms of work, employers that work more collaboratively with young workers to manage their careers will be far more successful in retaining them than organizations that have been traditionally secretive, management-guided from the last century The styles that continue to handle these development activities will also require employers to stop questioning or worse ridiculing the forms of employee expression manifested by main character thinking.

At the core of the main character phenomenon is a change in the way young people communicate and express themselves. Activists who see themselves as the main characters in their lives do not tell one-dimensional stories. Employers who attract these workers will be those who embrace and see the value in the whole person and the impact that they have both on and off the job. Employers who try to stifle main character energy will rapidly lose quality people to mass departures such as great resignations. I spoke to Mark Beale, assistant professor of communication, professional practice, at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information. He told me, “With the emergence of social media platforms including TikTok and Instagram, people including Gen Xers have never had more opportunities to express their individuality and socialize the unique elements of their personal brand. This mindset is carried over to the workplace. is going.” So, in order to win with the main character activists, be part of expanding their story, not intent on controlling or, worse, ending it.

The main character event, which stemmed from a time of Covid-19 shutdown and personal reflection, has created yet another opportunity for employers to engage with young people in a meaningful way – one that encourages Gen Y and Z workers to become more involved. Gives a say in your career development and which enables employers to benefit from their understanding of the worker as a complete individual. Employers who embrace this new trend could benefit greatly, while those who make it to another disparity that these generations will have to leave to fit in may only find more young workers to join those millions. Will encourage those who have already gone out in search of leaders. This is exactly who they are – the main characters in the story of their lives.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.