Millennials, though they are more than one-third of the workforce, are still derided in social network discussions and demystified by conference panelists. While some leaders still lament millennials, the next generation entering the workforce is significantly different from their predecessors and will require leadership adaptations to contribute to their fullest. Linda Willing, a FireRescue1 advisory board member, introduces iGen to paramedic chiefs and fire chiefs.
For members of this new generation, iGen, total and constant connection isn’t even a choice; it’s just the way things are. Most of their social interaction takes place virtually rather than face-to-face. Even millennials hung out together in person. iGen experiences most of its social interaction online.
For EMS agencies and fire departments hiring these young people, it means that they may not have fully-developed social skills. They may lack expertise and confidence with in-person communication and conflict resolution.
In general, members of the youngest generation at work are by far the most inclusive and socially tolerant of all previous generations. They accept diversity as a fact of life and expect the workplace to be fair and welcoming to all. They will not be attracted to organizations that do not share these values.
People in iGen are less entrepreneurial than their predecessors and more averse to risk taking. They want security and safety in their lives, and therefore may be more attracted to stable employment than was expected during the Internet boom.
The newest generation wants to be part of a team and is willing to work hard. They may need more reassurance and support than previous generations, but they are also motivated to follow rules and respect others.
It is tempting to only see the challenges of any new generation that comes along. But organizations that only see negatives do so at a price: their own future. This newest generation at work is the only one you get. It is up to those with experience and wisdom to help them prepare for the challenges of the EMS and fire profession.
Prepare millennial medics to train, supervise iGen: