You’ve been hearing about rising generations for a while. First it was Millennials, now – Generation Z.

But generational shifts have always been talked about as something kind of elusive and well into the future. The thing is, though, those generational shifts are happening now. And the real question is, is your association ready?

As an association professional, you have to think about those generational shifts from two perspectives: first, from a workforce perspective, and second, from a membership perspective. What do younger generations want from your association? What are they expecting out of a workplace?

As younger generations – Millennials and Gen Z-ers – secure a majority of the workforce, there are a few changes you’ll probably need to make at your association. Here are just a few:

Workforce changes

  • Culture – Younger generations are known for “job-hopping.” Is that the new norm? Not necessarily. But in order to keep younger employees at your association, you’ll probably need to make a few culture changes. What do younger generations care about? Well two things in particular: flexibility and company values. Are you allowing your employees to come in early/leave early? Are you allowing them to work from home? If not, you may want to! And as far as company values go, define what those are (if you haven’t already) and let them be known. The more Millennials and Gen Z-ers can relate to those (and believe in those), the more likely they are to actually build a career at your organization.  
  • Management style – Younger generations are just that – young. That said, when managing them, keep in mind that they’re looking for mentors – people who can guide them in their job/career. This is obviously very different from your Baby Boomer/Gen X-er employees, who are already established and just looking for dependable leaders. In order to successfully manage both, your management style must be agile.

Membership changes

  • Communication style and outlet – When it comes to Millennials and Gen Z-ers as members, it’s important to understand that those generations have different communication preferences. They often prefer short, snackable content through digital means (email, social media, mobile apps, etc.). That said, if you’ve ever thought about using a particular social media platform – Instagram, for example – but brushed the idea off because your members “just weren’t there,” you may want to reconsider. You have a new generation of members (and potential members) now, and they’re hanging out on different sites/platforms.
  • Processes – If you’ve ever done something because “that’s the way it’s always been done,” now may be the time to re-evaluate those processes. We say this because younger generations often want things quickly – they’re the “one-click” generation. They’re used to just clicking on something, and bam, it’s theirs – whether it’s a shirt, a song, a membership, or something else entirely. Does your association make processes that seamless? Member applications and event registrations? If not, it might be time to turn to technology – not just to streamline processes for you, but for your members as well. (It’s all about that member experience!)

Want more tips for engaging different generations at your association? Check out our free guide below!