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Who are Perennials and where can you find them?

Nick Fletcher, Managing Director

Demographics have governed our view of employees in the workplace for too long – perpetuating falsehoods and breeding division as different generations jockey for power and influence. That’s why the arrival of Perennials – a term coined by journalist Gina Pell – has been met with such positivity.


The word Perennials describes an “enduring, perpetual, recurrent and ever-blooming group of people” in the workplace.   While the term may seem a little gratuitous, it actually heralds something significant.  It marks a realisation that defining ourselves by age is limiting, rife with inaccuracy and inhibitory.  Neither age nor stereotypes provide an accurate starting point for employers wanting to build an understanding of their people, particularly when the primary goal is to unlock heightened productivity from a workforce.


Perennials make the ideal employee.

They are people who, irrespective of age, choose to stay relevant.  They keep pace with new technologies, have multiple-age friendships, relish collaboration and communication, have an appetite for learning, strive to achieve and are adept at change.  As a consequence, they are powerful and positive for they are defined by their ability to respond to and influence the changing world around them.  The Perennial era, is defined by interests, behaviours and values – not age.

Understanding the power of Perennials and how to find them is vital for today’s business leaders as the UK’s productivity crisis worsens.  Despite UK organisations increasing the number of new hires in recent years, output isn’t following suit and the country’s productivity now lags behind its G7 country counterparts[1].   A mere 1% uplift in productivity across the UK would equate to an increase of almost £20billion in GDP, a reduction of £8billion to the UK government’s deficit and an annual profit increase of almost £3.5billion[2].  It’s not surprising then, that extracting more output from the same amount of labour and capital is the single biggest driver in improving business performance, profitability and significantly, economic stability.

Business performance is a human issue and that means finding ways to understand, nurture, develop and unlock greater output from people. Global market pressures, the uncertainty of a post-Brexit Britain and a shortage of high performing talent are forcing business leaders to stop and re-group while they consider how to extract even greater value from employees.

It is Perennials’ ability to thrive in this changeable climate, combined with their innate qualities of hard work, enthusiasm, commitment, flexibility and innovation, that makes them so very valuable.  They have the potential to meet the productivity challenge and amplify an organisation’s efforts, for they will flex, grow and adapt as modern businesses do the same.

Perennials are easy to spot too, according to the founder of the term Perennials, Gina Pell.

“Perennials get involved, stay curious, mentor others, are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded, risk takers who continue to push up against our growing edge and know how to hustle.”

Gina Pell

Finding these employees and building a people strategy to harness their powerful attributes and positively encourage them in others, is how businesses will begin to make incremental productivity gains.  The Perennial effect should impact recruitment too, ensuring a clear focus on hiring and nurturing employees based on skillset, values and attitude rather than letting stereotypes colour thinking.  After all, is it always true that with age comes experience, or that with youth comes innovation, to the exclusion of all others?

The advent of Perennials reminds us of the need to stay relevant and that aptitude to learn, challenge and grow is not exclusive to the young.  These traits are multi-generational and when harnessed well, have the power to be the lifeblood of much-needed organisational and economic growth.


Further reading.

[1] Report by Office for National Statistics

[2] Taken from Raconteur – December 12th 2016

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