New Generations Are Coming – And Leaders Aren’t Ready

S. Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of the Purposeful Culture Group, which he launched after a 15-year career leading and managing teams. He’s a speaker, author, and executive consultant who helps senior leaders build and sustain purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He also served as a senior consultant with the Ken Blanchard Companies for 24 years. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. His upcoming book with Mark S. Babbitt, Good Comes First, guides leaders to create an uncompromising work culture where respect is as important as results. Good Comes First launches on September 28, 2021. Learn more at

To what degree is your work culture respectful, validating, productive, and even fun?

Most workplaces are not any of those things. It is far more likely for your employees to have demeaning, dismissive, and discounting interactions in your workplace than for them to receive recognition for their ideas, efforts, and contributions.

No wonder people aren’t jumping at the opportunity to go back to work. When most of their experiences with work are frustrating instead of validating, it causes people to wait – and watch. Many people are assessing what kind of work culture they want to invest in eight (or more) hours a day. They don’t want to feel like an unappreciated cog in a wheel. They want to feel respected.

This is true for all generations in your workplace – but it’s especially true for Millennials, Gen-Y’s, and Gen-Z’s.

In our recent appearance on the Fox31 Denver Morning Show, Good Comes First co-authors Mark Babbitt, and I talked about many challenges today’s business leaders face . . . including the coming tsunami of younger generations.

On the show, I said, “There’s another overlay that leaders will not be able to escape from. Gen-Y’s and Gen-Z’s have a totally different perspective. They’re not going to tolerate autocratic, command-and-control, ‘my way or the highway’ leadership philosophy. Unfortunately, many of our businesses and business leaders think that way.”

How do we know that millennials and Gen. Z-ers are less tolerant of the typical demeaning, frustrating workplace? According to Deloitte’s Global 2021 Millennial and Gen. Z Survey, “[Millennials and Gen. Z-ers are] channeling their energies into holding themselves and others accountable. They’re the people most likely to call out racism and sexism and to shun companies and employers whose actions conflict with their personal values.”

More telling: In the past two years, Deloitte found that 44 percent of millennials and 49 percent of Gen. Z-ers have made choices about the type of work they’re willing to do or organizations they’re willing to work for based on personal ethics.

Leaders and companies cannot afford to ignore the impact these younger generations will have on their businesses. The tsunami is coming! Research from McCrindle shows Gen-Y’s and Gen-Z’s will account for 66 percent of the workforce by 2030. Millennials will make up only 23% of the workforce nine years from now. Baby boomers will have long since retired by that time.

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To what degree is your work culture respectful, validating, productive, and even fun? Most workplaces are not any of those things.


An old-school, autocratic, demeaning work environment will not escape the scrutiny these young people bring.

If your work culture sucks, it doesn’t matter that you pay people more. They’ll see the true colors of your crappy work environment, and they’ll leave.

If your work culture sucks, it doesn’t matter that you provide new laptops and have high-speed internet installed in their homes. They’ll see your workplace’s true colors in a very short time.

To attract and retain these talented and engaged workers today and in the coming years, you must create a culture where respect is as important as results.

Why? Employees of all generations desire and deserve workplaces where they’re respected for their ideas, efforts, and contributions, every single day.

It’s not too late to build an uncompromising work culture. You’ll likely need help, proven guidance about where to start to make respect a common occurrence in your workplace.

My new book with Mark S. Babbitt, Good Comes First, provides step-by-step direction for leaders ready to create and sustain a purposeful, positive, productive work culture.


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