What does the ‘Selfie’ Phenomena tell us about Employees?

Image: What does the ‘Selfie’ Phenomena tell us about Employees?

Employees and Selfies

The other day I was at a garden centre and as I rounded the corner, I noticed the cashier taking a selfie at the register.  Nowadays, customers are pretty used to seeing smart phones alongside the cash register. Often, we begrudgingly accept the fact that while we might be entering our PIN information that the cashier will check his/her phone for the latest breaking tweet. This constant connectivity has implication on the workplace – what is acceptable, what is not – and how to manage smart phone and social media protocols.

The Selfie and the Employee Mindset

Interestingly, in a radio interviewer a critic commented that the selfie is a significant social phenomena because it has transferred the control as to how his/her image will be captured to the individual. In the past, one’s image – how one would be seen and portrayed – was in the control of the person taking the picture. It is the photographer’s interpretation of you. The selfie has switched that locus of control. While this reality is of interest to every generation as we can all take selfies, it will have the greatest impact on how young people and your future employees view themselves.

Employees Define Themselves and are not Defined by Organizations

Across the generations, (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Ys), employees have wrestled the definition as to who they are and what their careers will looks like more and more away from the organization. For Traditionalists and most Baby Boomers, it was the organization that would determine how far one would go up the corporate ladder and define your value as an employee. Gen Xers and Gen Ys have pushed to have a say in those decisions. The younger generations expect leaders to involve them actively in career progression and learning and development. When leaders don’t collaborate actively, engagement drops.

The Selfie is a Metaphor for Employee Engagement

The selfie is metaphorically what employees will expect from organizations today. Organizations and leaders will have to become better at understanding how employees define themselves, rather than imposing a definition upon them. The better that leaders become at understanding employees’ self-definition, and the better that they manage the expectations that arise out of the self-definitions, the higher the level of engagement. This will especially be true of the Gen Y generation and the Global Generation (13 and under) who will be your next employees in the next few years.

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