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Aug 02
Perennials: The Ageless 'Generation'

Author: Georgina Barrick

Generational theory is always evolving.

This makes things very interesting for a Generation X leader, trying to successfully blend multiple generations in the workplace and in life. If you've been following me, you'll know that I've shared my thoughts on balancing the power and pitfalls of Generation X, Millennials and Centennials in a series of recent pieces.

It appears that there' is now a – not so new – kid on the block.

Recently, I've been introduced to the power of the Perennial.

Coined by US Internet entrepreneur, Gina Pell, Perennials are 'ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages' who share an inclusive, enduring mindset, but not (always) an age.

Defined instead by their shared interests, behaviour and values, they live in the present, stay curious and are plugged into the world, technology and trends.

Perennials are 'passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative and global-minded risk takers' who have friends of all ages, mentor others and know how to hustle.

This immediately resonated with me as I personally don't always feel like I quite fit all of the attributes of a typical Gen X'er.

For them, age isn't limiting.

Pell believes that 'Generation Segregation', where we define people by age and generation, rather than mindset, separates us and creates tension across decades. It also puts the spotlight onto one generation to the exclusion of others, limiting opportunity. Perennials buck the trend to transcend the bounds of age.

I'm excited already.

And, marketers are taking note.

Forward thinking companies – like Amazon and Netflix – target consumers using behavioural data, rather than relying on generational stereotypes. By tracking actual online behaviour - like your browsing history and buying habits – they're able to offer you more targeted, appropriate products.behaviour - like your browsing history and buying habits – they're able to offer you more targeted, appropriate products.

In South Africa, Pick n Pay, Dischem and Woolworths (to name but a few) use information gathered from their card reward schemes to offer targeted discounts on the products that you buy most often.

This shift away from traditional marketing, which uses demographics, towards psychographics, which relies on data gathered on the personality, attitudes, interests, values and aspirations of the customer, creates a more personal experience. 

Because Perennials are a very new addition to generational theory, I believe that more research needs to be done before we can accurately predict how they're likely to influence our leadership approach. However, I think that we can expect that Perennials will change how we lead – and may already be doing so.

Expect to build a culture of continuous learning. Driven by curiosity and the need to stay relevant, 'ever-blooming' Perennials are likely to focus on ongoing development of their skills, abilities and knowledge – and are likely to expect employers to help them keep up.

Expect to create 'tailored' working environments, with flexible working arrangements.

Work from home, compressed hours, job sharing and contracting are likely to become increasingly popular ways to improve productivity and ensure long-term wellbeing.

Expect help with your mentoring programmes. An inclusive mindset, collaborative nature, friends of all ages and a love of mentoring make Perennials ideal mentors in the workplace.

Mark Twain said that 'age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter'. Perennials truly are the ageless and I am excited to consider myself as a part of this.

Georgina Barrick, MD of Cassel&Co and Insource.ICT/ IT Edge, all divisions of ADvTECH Resourcing (Pty) Ltd. Georgina has over 20 years of recruitment and executive search experience.

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