Under new overtime regulations set to become law on December 1st, approximately 4.2 million salaried employees will be reclassified as nonexempt employees with set work hours.
The new law may cause a backlash with our youngest workers, since less workplace autonomy runs counter to so much of what they strive for at work. Here’s what to expect and how to ease the transition.
Young adults value authenticity & ethics.
Young adults actively seek authentic leaders and ethical corporate policies, and may view this new law as unfair.
HR needs to get ahead of workers’ reactions with lots of communication about the specifics of what the law means and how it will be operationalized in the company. Speak individually with employees so unique concerns can be addressed. Leaders at all levels will need to continue reassurances and open dialogues well after the changes are made so employees can provide feedback about how it’s working.
Young adults crave structure & a clear career path.
They’re willing to work hard in order to achieve and advance in the workplace, but they don’t particularly value ‘face’ time and are likely to view the new work order as being chained to their desks.
Providing a strong, clear vision and as many options as possible for making the new law work for young workers will be HR’s most important role in preventing a rash of disgruntled workers who may decide to exit corporate life for an entrepreneurial role without such restrictions. Offering mentors or additional training opportunities would be welcomed and may temper some of the loss of autonomy.
Young adults focus on relationships.
They want their managers to be strong leaders who demonstrate a sincere interest in them.
Being inherently distrustful of authority and hierarchy, young adults may interpret the enforcement of the new rules as a breach of trust and begin to question their relationships with company leaders. HR and other leaders will need to be more visible and communicative, sharing stories about how they expect these changes will play out, and recounting examples of past changes that eventually worked out favorably.
Young adults respond to frequent, positive feedback & recognition.
With their need for continuous reinforcement, young adults appreciate tools that provide feedback and spotlight their accomplishments.
HR needs to role model a compassionate approach to delivering news and responding to questions during this uncertain time–no spin allowed! Be open and honest, and employ generous recognition and reward programs to help employees understand and adopt the new roles and behaviors this change will bring. Like storytelling, appreciation and recognition are powerful tools to help young workers understand and adjust to change.
Young adults trust their own network.
Friends are their most credible source of information and guidance, often taking their advice over their work leaders. Companies must make employees feel their voices are being heard.
Encourage and make it easy for young adults to share their own experiences; as progress is made and concerns dissipate, arm them with tips and success stories to share with their friends to further broadcast positive messaging. This will help build trust and accelerate the sharing of good news and important progress milestones.
Young adults want to be a part of something meaningful.
Young adults actively seek out companies that are ‘paying it forward’ by demonstrating social responsibility.
Don’t forget what attracted them to the company in the first place and continue to be an organization with which they want to be associated. Remind employees of the good works in which the company is engaged and, if it’s feasible, allow them to participate in charitable events during working hours to reinforce what’s important to them. Give them an additional benefit while they may be thinking you’re taking away a prior benefit.
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Michelle M. Smith is vice president of business development at O.C. Tanner as well as a world-renowned speaker, writer, consultant, and trusted advisor to Fortune 500 companies and governments. She is president emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association and past president of the FORUM for People Performance at Northwestern University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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