Money tips: Facebook, mind the age gap!

Photo: Chatham House

Looking at the age and responsibility of Eric Schmidt it is clear that there is still a future for digital migrants and older digital natives too. Yet, they are more the exception than the rule and a condition is that they keep up with the ever increasing pace of change.
But leaders are increasingly realizing that the discussion is actually not about the Millennials, but about the Millennial Spirit of employees. It is not about age, it’s about actively embracing the digital revolution. Make sure to train and challenge your employees on the fast-evolving digital world and give them early, constructive feedback.

Millennials should not play with their luck either. It is said that they want more work-life balance, CSR and salary. Given global worker and capital mobility, and the interest of the flexible digital migrants in keeping their jobs, will the Millennials keep on being favoured by companies or will they price themselves out of the market?

A point of attention is the fact that industrial revolutions do not always happen in predictable cycles. Remember the first internet and tech craze at the end of the 90s followed by a deep crash in 2000? The downfall was eventually overcome, but it still caused havoc with employees and investors of many tech companies for quite a few years. The same could happen again. In fact, the risk is high for such a crash when everybody (including your hairdresser) is saying that the sky is the limit for stock prices, and when valuations of new entrants can no longer be calculated since they all plan to make big losses for the foreseeable future. Today on the stock market, we may be still Ok as far as share prices are concerned, but if you look at the valuations of fresh ‘would be’ start-ups, planning to make a loss for at least a few years to come, effortless getting many millions of US dollars in private equity, one should be wary.

Notwithstanding, the fact that digital has made, or will make, its entry in almost any industry or service, there still is much more to the world GDP than only digital. Agreed this is often so for the wrong reasons: a lack of good access to the internet in many developing countries or local people still too poor to buy a decent digital device. There are many years of work ahead to make sure that even more people on earth can take part in this technological revolution that is gathering speed.

Finally there are voices that see the human aspect in all this digital craze being in danger because of the ‘Any Device Head Down’ (ADHD) attitude of many youngsters and other ‘DIGIs’. When studying how to put the human back in human capital, or in human resources, it is surely not only a question of personalizing the career and development of employees with big data analysis or by robots you can talk to. The experienced older digital migrants can be very valuable as coaches or consultants to the young. After all, they have seen a few crises before and may add some stability and experience to the bright young teams. Diversity should always win, also on age!