Four SITE Young leaders recently joined SITE President Kevin Edmunds on a SITE webinar to discuss what’s top of mind right now for millennial and Gen Z incentive professionals.
As these newest generations continue to grow their careers and look to enhance their industry profiles, here are several things they’re prioritizing.
Work from home is here to stay — but Young Leaders want to collaborate, too
When asked what’s most important to this generation in how they like to organize their workplace and accomplish day-to-day tasks, at least two panelists were quick to say that the flexibility to work from home is key.
When asked why having the option to work from home matters, both panelists said they have young children and want to make sure they don’t miss performances, practices, and other milestones as their kids grow up. “We know incentive travel jobs can be demanding,” said one Young Leader on the panel — “but there’s no reason they also can’t be flexible.”
Still, next-gen incentive professionals don’t want to stay in home offices 24/7. While the panel generally agreed that flexibility is appreciated, another speaker said her team actually enjoys spending meaningful time in the office together. It’s easier to ask questions that way, she said, and fosters good team chemistry with the people you often work abnormal hours with.
Understand what challenges newer professionals face
A good chunk of the webinar discussion, both by panelists and by attendees via the webinar chat, focused on generational stereotypes that might be misunderstood or overhyped.
Some of the conversation here centered on technology. Newer generations aren’t necessarily more privileged by having access to all kinds of information at their finger tips, one panelist said. Having tools that help people work faster and more efficiently really just changes the playing field and the environment is still a competitive one, he continued. That environment just looks different now than it did 20, 30, or 40 years ago.
Others on the panel spoke about the paradox they’ve experienced of being deemed too young or inexperienced while also needing access to opportunities and projects to gain the exact experience they’re expected and asked to have.
It’s a good reminder, they said, to not leap to quick judgments — and to not buy into other age-linked stereotypes that millennials and Gen Z employees are lazy or uninterested in putting in the time to learn and grow. This is definitely a generation with many people eager to roll up their sleeves and dive into the rich world the industry offers!
Agnostically embracing new technology (right now)
When asked what trends surfacing right now are here to stay, panelists were a bit agnostic on big tech buzzwords like AI.
They all agreed it’s likely here to stay, and pointed toward some of the knock-on effects it provides like expanding access to who can attend certain events and some of the environmental sustainability benefits it provides, too. In terms of specific applications though, no one immediately jumped in with creative or exacting examples of how new solutions are being implemented just yet.
Still, technology does seem to be impacting in-person behaviors. One panelist pointed out that devices and platforms are changing in how we receive hits of neurochemicals like dopamine, a fact incentive designers have to get savvier in planning for and planning around.
This also means, as another panelist pointed out, that there’s new thirst for immersive experiences. Your standard cocktail reception is not going to hold the attention of a predominantly younger audience anymore, especially if the same basic formula is repeated night after night.
“Hinge” of the industry
What’s maybe most exciting about this generation though — and exciting to its own members, as this webinar showed — is how it’s ready to be a “hinge” in the industry.
When asked for what advice they’d give to new graduates starting to explore an incentive career, everyone agreed: get involved, and start making connections. Every panelist had great memories of times they’ve drawn on expert advice from their own mentors, bosses, and leaders in the field now — and made it clear they’re working hard to do the same for new faces, too.
Thank you to AIC Hotel Group for supporting this webinar! You can catch the full webinar discussion in the replay below.
If you’d like to connect directly with members of the SITE Young Leaders community, registration is opening later in September for the 2023 Young Leaders’ Conference, taking place October 15 before IMEX America.