5 Ways the Next Generation is Influencing Business in Eugene
By Brittany Quick-Warner | CEO, Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce
Eugene is on the edge of incredible opportunity for our business community and our local economy. From embracing the gig economy to supporting new and growing industries and entrepreneurs, doing business in Eugene is continuing to evolve.
This is in-part due to increased engagement from young professionals who are no longer taking the first opportunity to live and work in Portland but who are choosing to stay in Eugene to be a part of building our shared future. This generation is bringing their values, passion and ambition to the workplace in new and exciting ways that are helping to lead growth in our businesses and create positive change in our community.
While none of these are new ideas, the next gen is employing these ideas differently and helping us to push past boundaries that we previously have not breached.
Belief in Eugene
Two to three years ago, graduating from the UO and moving on to opportunities elsewhere was a common narrative. Our community struggled to engage young professionals in a way that made them invest their time and talents here. That narrative is shifting, and we now see young professionals who had once moved away coming back to invest in Eugene.
At RAIN Eugene, Joe Maruschak sees this shift impacting a growing industry of entrepreneurs. “Five to six years ago, entrepreneurs would come to Eugene but they struggled to find the resources they needed to grow. This dynamic has shifted and entrepreneurs feel a change happening as a supportive environment is emerging. They no longer feel alone.”
Passion, Values and Vision
This generation of professionals actively expects and supports the people, opportunities and organizations that align with their values. They are having a disruptive effect on business in a really good way. “This generation sees their works as an opportunity to create a better world,” Chris Boone, of Boone Insurance, says. Equity is an important part of this narrative. They support companies that institute the triple bottom line and value people as equal to profits. As leaders, they understand that instituting things like parental leave benefit the bottom line by improving retention. They are making decisions as leaders and advocating to others that placing people alongside profits has the side effect of supporting both. “They have this awesome attitude that creating more resources means there is more to go around, enriching everyone. Everyone wins.” Said Joe from RAIN.
Embracing the Growth Mindset
Chris Boone put it like this, “For us, nothing is off limits. We think changing the world is possible. We’re willing to try.” Embracing this growth mindset is shifting away from the individual pioneer of ideas to a generation ready to embrace new ways of approaching business together. This generation is pushing into new types of work spaces, less hierarchy and structure, more idea generation and collaboration. Above all else, they are embracing a willingness to try, even if something fails. They are willing to try because the future of their community depends on it.
Finding a Fluid Balance
In a generation that rarely, if ever, shuts off some might not expect to find a desire for work and home life balance but this next generation is pushing that conversation forward. They understand that perfect balance may never be possible but that instituting more fluid boundaries between work and home life will allow them much needed time to engage in hobbies and with family and friends. Studies support the idea that this more fluid balance has many employer benefits with more healthy, engaged, and effective professionals.
Flexing that Influencer Muscle
It’s quality over quantity for this generation. They will spend more at a local farm-to-table restaurant because it is high-quality, local food. Yes, they will post that picture on Instagram but they’re comfortable tagging the business, lending their social influencer power to get more traffic in the door for a business they support. These shifts in both buying behavior and communications styles have big implications for business. Build your mission and have a vision because with this generation, it will impact your bottom line while extending your reach.
This is a generation of powerful voices in our community. They are engaging in new ways and comfortable exploring what might be next for Eugene. More importantly, they aren’t going anywhere. They are here to build something. It’s time to listen to what they are saying, to bring them in to the conversation, our future depends on it.
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