Young people are the lifeblood of organisations. I was 23 when I started Impact, and I remember the excitement well. I took a lot of risks, but I wish I’d taken more, and I’m always excited to see what young people are doing now. This new generation are the future of my organisation: they are the creativity that keeps it dynamic, they are the excitement that keeps it thriving, and they are where our culture is rooted.
My hopes for this generation are that they are able to create an organisation that is a great place to work for them – that is, an organisation that it is worth young people working for. One of the biggest myths of our time is that you can no longer get young people to stay in positions long term. I believe that if you can create an environment in which people can grow, be themselves and be excited, and if your organisation is dynamic and flexible enough to mould itself around them, then they will stay.
Ask young employees what they want to do, and then do your best to make it happen. We’ve had many employees at Impact that have pursued their dreams of travelling or adventure through the business, whether it’s taking sabbaticals to work a season in Antarctica or travelling around Asia whilst scoping out business potential. The only difference is that they travel with a briefcase rather than a backpack. Accommodate their dreams in an organisational context and they will not go elsewhere.
In turn, fostering the passions, dreams and ideas of young people will lead to innovation, change, and a thriving, excited and effective workforce. I see my return on investment frequently in projects that are the results of enthusiastic and discretionary effort. These ideas are inspirational, exciting and innovative, and those driving them should face no barriers or constraints. It's been work in the making, but such discretionary effort team from Impact have now re-launched our business venture Eclipse Performance UK. A passionate team from across the business gathered around the idea of working with elite sports teams maximising performance and wellbeing through customised outdoor adventure right on our doorstep, the English Lake District. That kind of energy can only thrive in organisations that recognise and nourish talent from across the whole business.
I also have a lot of fears for young people. Levels of anxiety and mental health issues have skyrocketed, and that is something that we must all be concerned about and aware of, both in societal and business contexts. I want this generation to see the opportunities, in organisations and in wider society, for influencing and changing things, and I want them to grasp them with both hands, driven by the self-belief and confidence that they should have.
Despite this, I am buoyed by the huge rise in aspirations that is visible across this demographic. The world is a smaller, more connected, and more uncertain place now, and change is much more the norm than it used to be. As a result we are seeing a huge generational shift, resulting from young people who will not accept the kinds of behaviours and poor management that have gone unchallenged in the past. They are speaking out, consuming wisely, and choosing jobs that they can enjoy and that will allow them to do meaningful work for a company they can be proud of. For this generation, it is not just about paying the bills. Enabled by technology and the positivity of youth, I believe that they will overtake some of the more staid, traditional and damaging organisations that we are living with currently, find alternatives to our most harmful practices, and develop solutions to the most pressing issues we face. The best thing that we can do is to help prepare them for success, because personally, I can’t wait to see it happen.
David Williams - Founder and CEO of Impact