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No need to rush, but let’s pack our bags!

A generational storm brewing after the pandemic

Everyone knows the feeling: you know from experience that a major storm is coming. We look up at the sky, remember what the weather forecasters have said about the day and know exactly what to do. Then there’s the other feeling, when we are expecting something, we are almost absolutely sure what the storm is going to be like, and we get something completely different from what we thought. Nowadays, that is the way to think about the restart of business!

We have experienced it before

The first real, deeper effects of the last crisis started to make their way around the world 12 years ago. In 2008, the crisis swept through the main sectors of the economy like a rapid tornado, and the following year the effects started to ripple out to other locations and economic sectors. Members of the business community went through several events that took them by surprise at the time. Many of them managed these situations very well, and it is exactly because of the crisis that their businesses or careers took off. A year or two after the crisis, experts began to analyse that the crisis benefited the Diplomat Generation – people born between 1973 and 1984 – the most because it was the generation’s diplomacy, strong networking identity, and proactive personalities that gave them a strong competitive advantage over the older, more inactive generations, who were more security-oriented and more attached to the same processes and studies. The most divisive “visions” aimed at the youngest generation of the labour market back then. The Ambitionist Generation – people born between 1985 and 1996 – is very proactive, but unfortunately, a significant proportion of them entered their adult life at the worst possible moment because of the crisis. They were basically more impatient, wanting to succeed faster. They were also taught from childhood that they could achieve anything in the world. Moreover, due to globalisation, the message of “you can achieve anything” did not only appear in traditional cultures but was increasingly infiltrating almost all the more democratic social perceptions. That is, among young people, and compared to these hopes, it was a terrible start. However, generational researchers were already indicating that the Ambitionist Generation’s path regarding their future was not so one-way. Some people will be able to thrive exactly in this chaos and will now be able to make career moves they would not normally have had the chance to make. In a business climate like this, it is their strength, will, and sometimes over-stretched “pushiness” that will be needed to pull the economy out of the crisis.

Shall we pack our bags and go?

Some people know what needs to be done before a tornado because of the movies, while others have real-life experience. The two are not comparable. Experts have different opinions about what to expect in the labour market. Nevertheless, to assess this, it is always worth looking back at what has actually happened compared to the “predictions”. I mean, on the generational front. I can agree with the 2009 forecasts, as we can see that the Ambitionist Generation has indeed split into two distinct camps in terms of success. The larger half is still trying to find its place. They have not been able to fit into the business environment that had already been established. They have tried their best in foreign countries, at different jobs, but have not found what they were looking for. Many people say they are the stronger characters of their generation. And then there is the other half of the generation, the smaller half, who are weaker than their generation in respect of dominance, but still have just enough “stubbornness” for the older generations. They have been able to build very nice and fast careers in recent years. They were more digestible for organisations, had fewer expectations, and therefore created less conflict within organisations. What can we expect in the upcoming years? It can be seen that the way out of this crisis will require more drastic, deeper, and serious energies. In other words, it is clear that the “digestible characters” will not work as they did after 2008. However, the business society could not accept the stronger characters. Nevertheless, they are what business needs the most now. But they lack experience, and many of them have become “renegades”.

A tornado certainly swept through the economy in 2020. It is also clear that more damage has been done during any previous disaster. However, the kind of weather coming and what a responsible businessperson should do is still very much in question. Actually, it is not. We need to pack our bags and be prepared for all eventualities!