By Geraldine Gaillemin, Managing Partner, The Blueprint
In the dynamic world of agency life, disruption is often seen as the norm. However, even in an industry primed for evolution, the rising trend of ‘loud quitting’ has caught many agency leaders off guard.
For those unfamiliar, ‘loud quitting’ is not just about leaving a job; it’s about doing so with a voice, a declaration, often indicative of deeper systemic concerns. A recent article in Insider revealed that 74% of Gen Z employees are willing and ready to give upward feedback to their supervisors. This is a generation that wants its voice heard, its concerns acknowledged, and its values recognised.
Yet, the intersection of youthful idealism and established corporate structures isn’t always seamless. According to The Blueprint’s The Truth About Talent report, a mere 1% of agency leaders believe their organisations excel at embracing the diverse needs and attitudes of each generational cohort. For 38%, it’s a work in progress – which is encouraging – but 11% worry that they are simply not doing it well at all.
The challenge is rooted in unequal expectations, attitudes and work ethics across the generations, while social impact and purpose are increasingly complex levers when it comes to retaining younger talent. Inter-agency harmony is being disrupted. The statistics paint a stark contrast: on one side, we have a vocal majority of Gen Z employees craving change and transparency; on the other, an overwhelming majority of leaders feeling ill-equipped to deal with their needs, to bridge that gap.
From disruptors to mediators
Enter millennials, a generation uniquely positioned to act as the connective tissue in this complex generational tapestry.
Millennials have witnessed a world before the internet’s omnipresence and have also been instrumental in shaping the digital age. They’ve been called disruptors, but as they’ve matured, they’ve also become mediators. In the context of agency life, they have the potential to serve as a ‘generational bridge’, providing the insights, understanding, and diplomacy required to integrate the audacious vibrancy of Gen Z with the wisdom and experience of older cohorts. So, how come millennials are so equipped for this role?
As one agency leader who contributed to The Truth About Talent told us, “This group understands Gen Z, they understand the work life balance Gen Z wants. Millennials also value the sacrifices made by Gen X”.
In other words, they understand the struggle. They were the original digital age trailblazers, navigating the early waves of transformation, social media, and a reshaped global economy post-2008. They resonate with Gen Z’s aspirations for change and understand the importance of upward feedback, having once been the young disruptors themselves.
Leverage and collaboration
Secondly, millennials are now in positions of influence. They’re the middle managers and the creative team leads. They have the leverage to drive change from within, championing Gen Z’s concerns while also appreciating the broader business objectives that agencies must meet.
Lastly, millennials value collaboration. Grown in an era where open-source thinking and shared platforms were budding, they appreciate the strength in collective voices. They can channel the ‘loud quitting’ energy of Gen Z, not as a point of contention but as a catalyst for positive transformation.
An opportunity to realign
For agency leaders feeling the pressure, recognising the potential of millennials as mediators can be a game-changer. Instead of viewing ‘loud quitting’ as a threat, it can be seen as a pulse check, an opportunity to realign, reinvent, and rejuvenate agency operations and cultures. And in this endeavour, leveraging the millennial mindset can provide the insights and balance needed.
While ‘loud quitting’ and the outspoken nature of Gen Z may seem daunting, it is essential for agency leaders to recognise the opportunities lying within. This isn’t about appeasing a generation, but about harnessing a force of change that can lead to unparalleled innovation and growth.
As they navigate this terrain, leaders would do well to turn to the millennial ‘generational bridge’—a bridge built on understanding, experience, and the unyielding belief that when diverse voices come together, there’s the potential for harmony.