MNC Consulting Group Newsletter
June 2018
Working Harder or Working Smarter?

The dichotomy of working harder or smarter stems from the contrast between rural blue-collar and urban white-collar workers. One is purported to work harder; while the other smarter. However, this is not true in the modern age. Both blue and white-collar workers must work hard and work smart because productivity is not a choice between the two.
 
It seems that the dichotomy stems with the Baby Boomers who were by far the most productive generation and perhaps this is true in some respects, but evidence suggests that productivity is more than just a generational focus.
 
There is a direct link between high performing companies and satisfaction of employees' values. These values include personal autonomy, participation in decision making, and participation in job design. All generations from the Silent Generation to the Millennials appreciate these values.
 
The modern era has generated a need to work smarter using knowledge-based tools. This improves communication and leads to faster decision making, creates knowledge, and creates robust internal and external relationships. There is little doubt that organic organizations - those that can adjust to rapidly changing environments - are more successful than the industrial bureaucracy. Improving communication is one of the keys to success.
 
In the Rise of the Network Society, Manuel Castells claims that "informationalism" is the basis of social organization and that the action of knowledge on knowledge is the source of productivity. There is a vital role in organizations for open communication, no matter what generation of worker is involved.
 
The difference in generations does arise, however, in quality of life issues. This is because higher levels of education, sustained economic growth and rising productivity have led individuals to become concerned about their work-life balance. Best practice employers have responded by providing career development opportunities, flexible benefits, and work that is challenging, inspiring, enjoyable, and flexible. However, the trend toward more balance in 'life' than 'work' is not the best approach for productivity.
 
Focusing on the importance of the individual and the notion of "self" is a result of organizational and societal change. This includes the combined effect of demographic trends, democratization and globalization. While it is important to focus on individuals, this current 'over-focus' on individuals is denigrating the importance of organizations and teamwork. As a result, working harder is falling by the wayside and organizations will struggle to find the right balance in productivity that will enable their profitability.
 
The bottom line is that if we want to be successful, we need to work smarter AND harder. The most successful people (and businesses) are those that work exceptionally hard with a persistence and motivation that does not quit. And as they work, they also learn how to be more efficient to improve their productivity.

Tapping into the Millennial Market
 
In his book,
Without Their Permission , Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of reddit , says that coffee is key to help him burn the candle at both ends. Another go-getter, Seth Priebatsch of SCVNGR claims that he gets almost as much done outside normal office hours as during. He claims that everyone has a choice to be productive or have a social life, but you can't have both.
 
Perhaps it comes as no surprise then that efficiency is key to success, and to be efficient, one must forego some demands for work-life balance. That type of balance just does not exist for those in pursuit of profit. Entrepreneurs and organizations building their businesses need to work not only smarter and harder, but they need to keep longer hours and be very efficient in their operation. If not, the competition wins.
 
According to the Guardian, Millennials are struggling and it's nothing but doom and gloom for many. However, there is a flip side for those of all generations to tap into the Millennial market - it's not as bad as the Guardian might believe.
 
Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton claim that those in business who actively tap into the Millennial market could certainly be on their way to success. Their book, Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever, outlines some key characteristics of this generation, which characteristics could be good for business. For instance, Millennials:
 
  • Are some of the earliest "digital natives"
  • Are interested in participating in your marketing
  • Are known as content creators and users
  • Crave adventures (often "safer" adventures)
  • Strive for a healthy lifestyle
  • Seek peer affirmation
  • Are hooked on social media in much the same way that older generations are hooked on e-mail at work
  • Are not a homogeneous cohort
  • Embrace authentic cause marketing and align to brands with a purpose
  • Are in many ways similar to older generations
 
The takeaways for business are:
 
  • Millennials are not big on brand awareness; but they do love brands. To drive Millennials to your business, engagement is key because they are looking for that 'connection' with the brand to win over their loyalty and turn them into repeat customers. Organizations in the know strive to create Millennial partners, rather than Millennial targets. If the buyer feels valued and if they are included in the creation process, this will strengthen their brand love and affinity for a company.
  • While Millennials, especially parents, are price driven, they will not compromise quality of products for the wellbeing of their family. This is especially true in the grocery, technology and automobile industries. By creating a business model that combines price, quality and convenience (like Walmart has done), brands have a better chance of winning customers and creating lasting relationships. Offering promotions and limited-time offers also gamifies the shopping experience and connects specifically with the Millennial mom.
  • Loyalty must be earned with brands that are authentic, transparent, and aligned with Millennials' values and beliefs. Millennials want to connect with brands that can combine digital with personalized benefits and face-to-face interactions like the successful My Starbucks Rewards program.
 
If you're not convinced about the sheer power of the Millennial generation, consider that they account for an annual $1.3 trillion in consumer spending in the United States alone. As well, there are roughly three Millennials for every Generation Xer (born between 1965-1976) and they surpass the population of Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964).
 
In short, if you want your business to be profitable, focusing on meeting the needs of Millennials is a sure way to take your business to the next level.

In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)
While I believe that we are all created equal, it appears that we really aren't. For businesses selling products or services, targeting specific markets (read: generations) is the way to go. My generation of Baby Boomers is different from newer generations. We are characterized with having a strong work ethic, being self-assured, competitive, goal-oriented, resourceful, focused, disciplined, and team-oriented. Are these good characteristics? You bet they are! That's why a lot of us were in the "work harder" camp and graduated into working smarter as technology edged us in that direction. On the flip side are the Millennials - masters of multi-tasking, tech-savvy, browsers, creative problem-solvers, advice-seekers, go-getters, price-picky, socially conscious, and tell-it-like-it-is (this latter one reminds me a lot of me!). Do you see a difference between the generations? Of course, but that doesn't mean one generation is better than another. Being aware of the differences, however, does help narrow business focus. And that's a good thing  IMHO.
 
"Not all Millennials think alike. A demographic is not a psychographic."
- Andy Dunn

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