Being relevant to the new-gen workforce

The profile of the Indian workforce across industry sectors has gradually and intensely changed over the decades. There was a time when employees preferred a more formal work environment where people did their jobs and never questioned the authorities / management. They believed in punctuality and professionalism at work. Then there was a generation of employees that was ready to work longer hours with limited work-life balance.  They tuned themselves to think about work 24 x 7 and also expected others to do the same. Then came the workforce that put a lot of value on balancing their family lives with their work lives.  They were generally sceptical, but more open to taking professional risks.

And now we have the millennials / the new generation workforce. This is the generation that is educated and perhaps the most compassionate generation we have seen till date.  They care a lot about having meaningful lives and making a positive contribution to the society.  Most importantly, they are the first generation to grow up with easy access to technology at home and school, which has made them tech-savvy, highly dependent on the Internet and energised by social media platforms.

The PR Workforce

The new generation PR workforce is no different. They have specific wants and expectations when it comes to their overall work experience.  They prefer to work in teams rather than as individuals.  Most of them even value purpose over compensation in terms of seeking assignments that bring more meaning to their work lives. And they are more keen to do Digital PR stuff than Traditional PR.

With COVID-19, the remnants of which still remain and will take its own time to completely vanish, no one really knows what the future workplace will look like. And as the new generation enters the workforce during these times, they see a small fragment of the future to be certain, and quite a bit of it as worrisome.

Given these circumstances, it’s imperative for those who have spent a considerable amount of time in the PR profession (the senior levels) to handhold and nurture the new generation PR workforce into becoming confident individuals with a clear vision of the future.

Being Relevant

Many a time while handholding / mentoring the subordinates, seniors tend to get into a ‘Hamare zamane mein’ mode. We (and I have done this myself) talk about how in our early days as PR professionals, we had to track newspapers in the mornings, manually cut and paste the relevant clippings on A4 sheets; how we had to fax (individual official e-mail IDs were yet to come, and some companies / branches had one common e-mail ID) the coverages to the relevant clients and press releases to the media; how we went on media rounds on a daily basis; and how we used to ourselves make and seal envelopes to be sent to the media, clients and other branch offices.

And many a time we tend to feel proud of something that never had relevance or lost relevance in due course. Let me explain this with a small example. In my first job as a PR professional in Bombay, I used to fax press releases to the media (around 30 – 35 of them) on a regular basis, which resulted in me sub-consciously by-hearting the fax nos. of all the key media houses. I didn’t need a list in front of me to key in the recipient fax nos. So much so that the Branch Head jokingly even conferred on me the unofficial title of ‘Fax Master’. And I was proud of my ‘skill’.

But was this ‘skill’ really relevant back then? And is it relevant now? The answer to both these questions is NO. Even then it didn’t matter. Whether the person who keyed in the recipient fax nos. from her / his memory or referred to a list to do so, there was no difference in the impact. And it doesn’t matter today…simply because faxes are now passe.

The point here is that the new generation workforce doesn’t connect with the ‘experiential stories’ that have no relevance in the present times. Till around 15 – 20 years ago, official work could only be done from office. We had to use the office systems. The trend of having a system (and later laptops and tablets) at home was yet to come. Even mobiles (they had just made an entry with obnoxious rates and chargeable incomings) were yet to invade our lives.

But now things are completely different. The communication revolution has brought about a paradigm shift. Employees now can work (including working on documents and sending official e-mails from their mobile phones) from anywhere. And because of this, the new generation PR workforce’s experiences and the way they look at things are completely different from that of the earlier generation PR workforces. 

Last Word

Being relevant is the key, because every workforce generation customises itself to the needs of its times and works with the resources and technology (which keeps upgrading as time passes) available. I rest my case with a very popular and relevant (for the new-gen too) Rajesh Khanna dialogue…

Aaj main hoon jahaan, kal koi aur tha;

Yeh bhi ek daur hai, woh bhi ek daur tha.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Vijay Shekhar
Vice President at Concept Public Relations
With over 23 years of experience as a communications professional, Vijay has always been on the consultancy side of the table and has worked on a wide slate of accounts spanning across sectors. He holds a B. Com and an MBA (Human Resources) from the University of Pune.

Vijay likes to watch old Hindi classic films and listen to old Hindi film songs, and has an enviable collection of both of these. He enjoys reading autobiographies and biographies, and also short stories, his favourite authors being R. K. Narayan, Munshi Premchand, Leo Tolstoy and Guy de Maupassant. Vijay also has a hobby of collecting news clippings (from newspapers and magazines) of important events across the globe…events that can be truly classified as ‘Breaking News’ or ‘Front Page News’.

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