Archive for the ‘Generation Y’ Category

Round 2: Resentment Grows Between Boomers and Millennials

There appears to be a lot of white elephants in the room these days, none bigger than a generation gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials.

On this day last year I posted an article asking, “Are Generational Differences Turning From A Gap Into A Chasm?”  Today I read two articles that reveals the gap is still a very real issue that few organizations are addressing adequately.

In one corner we have Steve Israel representing the Baby Boomers. Steve posted an article titled “Millennials vs. Boomers: You twerps owe us everything.”  That about says it all.

Steve wrote:

If it weren’t for us baby boomers, most of you wouldn’t be here. Literally.

We are your parents. You sprung from our wombs, from our love.
We don’t just deserve your respect; we deserve your eternal gratitude — for the food you ate, for the clothes you wore, for the roofs over your heads. By the way, we’re still giving food, clothes and roofs to the more than 10 million of you who still live in our homes.

And what have you millennials — the 50 million Americans born between 1980 and 1995 who are becoming adults at the start of this new millennium — given us?
Nada — except the smug expectation that we should give you more.
How ungrateful can you be?

In the other corner is Millennial (aka Gen Y) Timothy Malcolm. Timothy has quite a different opinion. He urges Baby Boomers to “Give up the reins, you geezers.”

Timothy wrote:

The main reason we 20-somethings still sleep at mom’s house is because mom and dad won’t get out of the work force. They’re clogging the pipeline.

Baby boomers make up the largest generation in American history. The current 20-something generation is almost as large, ironically, thanks to the boomers having all those kids.
Because of improvements in health care, boomers are not only living longer, but they’re subjected to the salacious whispers that, yes, even in old age, they can remain vital! They can keep working, climb mountains, row boats and — gasp — have sex! Think about Lucy and Ricky or Archie and Edith cavorting in beachside bathtubs. Yeah, it is ridiculous.

Sure, we 20-somethings have some ridiculous traits, too. We waste time on Facebook, but as one of the original users, I’ve seen the boomers completely ruin that social networking site. Our music might be hard to understand, but at least I can’t take credit for Cher. And, seriously, when are the Who going to stop?

Timothy concludes his article with “So stop wasting our generation’s chance. And stop wasting our country’s possibilities.”

So far, the first round of the attitude gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials has been subdued and mostly a war of words.  But as the recession lingers on and Gen Y joblessness remains high, one can only wonder if the resentment building up will boil over in a full fledged battle.

Round two anyone?

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Generation Gaps Occur At All Ages

Like many workers, one day earlier this year former Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Donovan McNabb and Gen Xer came to work only to discover he was old.

The 6 time Pro-bowler and 5 time conference title QB was dealt to the division rival Washington Redskins.  One reason given for the trade was a generation gap, although Coach Andy Reid denied age was a part of the criteria in the decision to part ways with McNabb.

One might expect that defensive remark coming from an employer in this litigious job market.  Age discrimination is a major concern as businesses try their best to rebuild their workforces. Many businesses chose to force early retirement and layoffs to create openings for younger, cheaper workers who could keep pace in a faster paced, more dynamic, and more innovative marketplace.

The wrinkle in this generation gap story however is that McNabb is only 33 years old.

BehindTheLines-3-Ira

As I’ve said before, the gap between generations isn’t always about age, but attitude. The Eagles new twenty-something line-up plays fast and they connect in a nanosecond. It even forces 52-year-old baby boomer Eagles head coach Andy Reid to keep his Blackberry charged.  “I text,” Reid says. “I’ll text something like ‘have a great day at practice.’ Or if I go through practice at the end I might shoot a guy a text like ‘great job’ or whatever the correction might be.


Communication wasn’t quite the same with McNabb and former Eagle running back Brian Westbrook. Both players dominated much of the offense for the past seven years but both also had other life demands and interests that started to separate them for the younger players.But this year it was out with the old and in with the new generation of younger players. Kevin Kolb, McNabb’s replacement 26, is the oldest of the offensive nucleus. Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy are 22, while DeSean Jackson is 23. Tight end Brent Celek is 25. He and Kolb are the only guys in the group legally old enough to rent a car.

In addition to texting and tweeting, the new generation spends a lot of time together off the field. McNabb had a lot of different demands on his time. Jeremy Maclin felt that “being close in age you just kind of bond with guys a little more around your age. And I think it does translate to the field.”

Employers of all types of organizations could learn a lesson or two from the Eagles story.  First, generation gaps aren’t limited to Baby Boomers and Millennials. They occur between younger and older workers even when only a few years separate the workers.  Second, generations isn’t just influenced by age differences, but attitudes toward life and work.

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The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2014

If it’s August, it must be back-to-school time. And that means it’s time for the Mindset List for the Class of 2014.

 

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. (Click here for a free download on how cultural milestones have shaped the four generations in the workforce.)

 

The list was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references. It has quickly become a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation. And just for the record, most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1992.

 

College-Freshmen-MoveFor these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.  

1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.
2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.
3. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.
4. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.
5. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.
6. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.
7. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.
8. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.
9. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.
10. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.
11. Woody Allen, whose heart has wanted what it wanted, has always been with Soon-Yi Previn.
12. Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.
13. They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.
14. The first computer they probably touched was an Apple II; it is now in a museum.
15. Czechoslovakia has never existed.
16. Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.
17. Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
18. There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.
19. American companies have always done business in Vietnam.
20. The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.
21. Children have always been trying to divorce their parents.
22. Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps.
23. Beethoven has always been a dog.
24. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.
25. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.

 

And if you don’t feel a bit unsettled by a few of these event passings, 2010 is the 40th anniversary of the movie M.A.S.H. and the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back! 

To read the complete list, go to the Mindset List website.

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Generational Views on Career Challenge Employers

The more things change, the more different generations of workers become the same, suggests a new study about generational views on careers from Robert Half. The research shows that workers of all ages have a new appreciation for company stability when making career decisions. Yet, four out of 10 professionals polled said they are more inclined to look for new opportunities outside their firms as a result of the recession.

Cross-generational teams bring challenges and rewards. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of hiring managers said managing multigenerational work teams poses a challenge. But more than one-third of workers polled felt having a group of employees at different experience levels increases productivity.

What are the most significant generational differences when it comes to workforce planning?

  • Generational views on next career steps differ. For Gen Y, looking for a new job is the most common post-recession career plan, whereas Gen Xers polled said they are more inclined to update their skills. For baby boomers surveyed, staying put at their companies was the most commonly cited post-recession career plan.
  • More Gen Yers (36 percent) than Gen Xers (30 percent) and baby boomers (24 percent) planned to look for new job opportunities.
  • Gen Xers polled were more inclined to enhance their skills sets (38 percent) and build tenure with their companies (33 percent) in the aftermath of the recession than other generations.
  • A greater percentage of baby boomers (54 percent) than Gen X (46 percent) or Gen Y (39 percent) respondents said they will work past the traditional retirement age.
  • More Gen Xers (34 percent) than baby boomers (27 percent) said they had increased their retirement savings since the recession began.
  • More baby boomers (54 percent) than Gen X (45 percent) or Gen Y (35 percent) employees identified the greatest challenge when working with multiple generations as having differing work ethics and approaches to work/life balance; more Gen Yers attributed difficulties to differing communication styles (29 percent for Gen Y versus 16 percent for both Gen X respondents and baby boomers).

But different generations don’t always see the world differently? Many generation similarities do exist.

Understanding the values shared by nearly all employees, particularly in light of changing economic conditions, can help companies enhance their recruitment and retention efforts,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of “Human Resources Kit For Dummies,” second edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.).

  • For all generations surveyed, working for a stable company and having job security were two of the most important aspects of the work environment, beating out having a short commute or working for a socially responsible company.
  • When evaluating employment offers, salary, company stability and benefits were the most important factors for all three generations.
  • Health care coverage, dental coverage, vacation time and 401(k) matching were the highest valued benefits for all generations surveyed.
  • The most commonly cited benefit of being part of multigenerational work teams was bringing together various experience levels to provide knowledge in specific areas.

“Many employees, particularly Gen Y professionals, are biding their time in their current employment situations and plan to make a move when they feel the economy is on firmer footing,” said Brett Good, a Robert Half International district president. “Now is the time for employers to take action and outline career paths within their company for strong performers. “

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Grandparents Surpass Grandchildren in the Labor Force

teens-seniors-workforceFor nearly four decades Baby Boomers have been in the driver’s seat of politics, consumer trends, lifestyle decisions, and jobs.

But 2010 was supposed to be the turning point when Baby Boomers left the workforce en masse, retired off into the sunset, and turned the workforce over to heir apparent Generation X and the up-and-coming Millennials.

But thanks in part to the recession, for the first time on record there are more seniors than teenagers in the American labor force.

The orange line in the chart refers to the number of teenagers — workers aged 16-19 — who are in the labor force, meaning they either have jobs or are actively looking for jobs. The blue line shows the number of workers over age 65 who are in the labor force.

As you can see, starting last fall the number of older workers surpassed the number of teenage workers for the first time since at least 1948, when the Labor Department first began collecting statistics. If you look at just the employment of older workers versus teenagers — that is, how many workers actually have jobs — you will also find that older people surpassed teenagers for the first time recently, in mid-2008.

A recent New York Times article cited three primary reasons for the flip?

1.   There was always a certain percentage of Baby Boomers and the oldest generation, the Veterans, who would continue to work.

2. Older people are having to work longer.

3. The shift away from defined-benefit pensions toward defined-contribution pension plans, plus the sharp declines in equities since the financial crisis have all conspired to make it more difficult for older people to retire.

4. A weak economy plus a higher minimum wage might be discouraging employers from hiring teenage workers.

Regardless of the cause, joblessness in the Gen Y (aka Millennial) Generation is beginning to make history. According to a recent Pew Research Center  survey, a smaller share of 16- to 24-year-olds are currently employed — 46.1% — than at any time since the government began collecting such data in 1948.At best long-term implications of low unemployment for young workers include young adults living at home longer, higher college enrollment, and more internships. But a deep concern is growing how delayed entry into the workforce will translate into employee preparedness, not to mention the loss of lifetime earnings.

More older people needing work + more younger people giving up on work = grandparents surpassing grandchildren in the labor force. But that’s only a short-term statistic? Are we prepared for the long term consequences?

 Read More Sobering thoughts on the U.S. Labor Market

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Employers Warned,Young Workers Ready To Fly The Job Coop

Businesses may be able to erect a firewall to limit an employee’s access to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.  But they can’t erect a fence high enough or deep enough to prevent dissatisfied and disengaged young workers from leaving their jobs despite a weak job market.

According to a recent Deloitte survey, nearly one-in-three (30%) employees are actively working the job market and nearly half (49%) are at least considering leaving their current jobs. Academic research indicates that 44% of these employees will actually act on these turnover intentions. 

Employers, on the other hand, hardly see what may be coming. For example, only 9% of surveyed executives expected voluntary turnover to increase significantly among Generation X employees in the 12 months following the recession. That stands in sharp contrast to Deloitte’s survey results: about one-in-five surveyed Generation X employees (22%) have been actively job hunting over the last year and only 37% plan to remain with their current employers. Members of Generation Y also have their sights set on better opportunities, with less than half of those surveyed (44%) reporting they plan to stick with their jobs.

Among the executives surveyed, 65% expressed concern about losing high potential employees and critical talent to competitors in the year following the recession. Nearly half (46%) recall that voluntary turnover increased following the 2001-2002 recession. Nevertheless, only 35% have an updated retention plan in place to keep hold of talent as the recovery strengthens.

In Deloitte’s white paper, “Has the great recession changed the talent game?”, they include an excellent overview ranking effective retention initiatives by generation, comparing executive perceptions vs employee wants:

employee-retention-by-generation

 

Key question for talent leaders: Do you know what your employees really want and are you tailoring your strategies to address the generational and geographic diversities of your workforce?

 Read the full paper at Has the great recession changed the talent game?”

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LeBron James: A Lesson in Gen Y Employee Retention

The assumption that NBA superstar LeBron James would demonstrate blind loyalty to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers should surprise no one – as long as they had been paying attention to the world views of different generations.   

While Baby Boomer and Veteran workers placed a high value on undying loyalty to the organization, Generation Y (born 1980-2000) are looking for opportunity, mobility, and work-life balance. One survey, released in 2004 by Harris Interactive, found that only 47% of those 18 to 34 years old “really care about the fate” of the enterprise for which they work. That compares with 64% of those 55 and older. In other words, younger workers don’t see themselves sticking around in any one place too long. 

Ironically they don’t see themselves as disloyal. Loyalty for Generation Y, sometimes called Millennials, feel loyalty is as much as spiritual thing as it is physical. 

A recent analysis by Princeton economist Henry Farber shows that the percentage of private-sector male workers who’ve been with the same employer for at least 10 years fell from 50% in 1973 to just 35% in 2006, and the proportion of those with 20-year tenures dropped from 35% to 20% over the same period.

The erosion in loyalty is not the fault of Generation Y alone.  Greedy corporations, widespread outsourcing, and wholesale layoffs have soured almost every generation toward blind loyalty to the business enterprise.

In his book, “The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaking Up the Workplace,” Ron Alsop cites a study in which two-thirds of 18- to 28-year-olds said they plan to “surf” from one job to the next. And 44%, he reports, go so far as to say that they’d renege after having accepted a job if a better offer came along.

The over-hyped LeBron James saga is over but how it played out should serve as a wake-up for every executive and business owner.  Throwing buckets of money and lavish benefits may still work when acquiring top talent but it’s no longer enough to retain high-potential and high-performing young workers.

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Study Says: Young Women Addicted to Facebook

Even before they go to the bathroom or brush their teeth, one of the first things one-third of women age 18-34 do in the morning when they wake up is check their Facebook account.  This is according to a two-month study of more than 1,600 adults released by Oxygen Media and Lightspeed Research on Wednesday. The study, reported by Mashable, shows that “young women are becoming more and more dependent on social media and checking on their social networks.”  

The study’s results go further than previous studies on the subject, finding that 57 percent of young women talk to people online more than face-to-face. A full 39% of women in the 18-34 age range proclaim themselves Facebook addicts.

Here are more interesting stats regarding young women and Facebook:

  • 21% of women age 18-34 check Facebook in the middle of the night
  • 63% use Facebook as a networking tool
  • 42% think it’s okay to post photos of themselves intoxicated
  • 79% are fine with kissing in photos
  • 58% use Facebook to keep tabs on “frenemies”
  • 50% are fine with being Facebook friends with complete strangers

What conclusions can we draw from this data? A few statistics that emerged from the study seemed a bit contradictory: 89 percent of young women advise against loading anything onto Facebook that you wouldn’t want your parents to see, yet 42 percent have no problems with posting photographs of themselves drunk.

Mashable summarized the results: “Our habits are changing due to social media technology, particularly Facebook. It’s not just a connection tool for many women, but a research tool, a dating network, and a way to keep tabs on both boyfriends and enemies.”

What do you think? Are young women addicted to Facebook?

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Does body art and tattoos bias hiring managers?

We make hundreds of judgments about people every day, many of them based on personal preferences. Personal prejudices don’t stop at the office door either. This poses a particularly compromising situation for employers. Since the whole interview process is essentially one big judgment session, why would you think a manager would just look away from body art (aka tattoos) and body piercings? 

Today’s hiring managers tend to be from a generation when tattoos were limited to Marines, bikers and gypsies. When these managers interviewed for their first jobs, even facial hair for men and open-toe shoes for women were a no-no. Today, facial hair is commonplace and hair length runs from the shaven head to a neatly tied pony-tail. Female candidates arrive to the interview with cleavage exposed and “dressy” flip-flops. If you take a look around most workplaces today, employers have either given up trying to regulate dress code or just don’t care. 

But that still doesn’t stop candidates from getting under the skin of hiring managers with almost any display of tattoos and piercings. That’s a problem because 40% of adults ages 18 to 40 now have a tattoo or non-earlobe piercing, according to the Pew Research Center’s Gen Next Survey.

Young workers — even those going through business school and looking to be corporate leaders one day — have ramped up both the number and placement of this body art. Such markings started to become more mainstream due to the tattooed punk movement of the 1980s. This has created a firestorm of activity to create personal appearance policies that include rules about tattoos and piercings. But as many employers will tell you, it’s not that easy without discriminating against certain classes of workers and without significantly reducing the size of the talent pool. 

In fact, despite all the talk from HR and management about the unprofessional appearance of candidates, just 36% of organizations surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management had a policy for body piercing; and only 22% had policies for body art. That compares to 97% of organizations that maintained policies on clothing and 70% on footwear.

Candidates and employees often feel the employer has no right to restrict the display of piercings and tattoos. That’s not true. Companies can limit employees’ personal expression on the job as long as they don’t infringe on their civil liberties. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers are allowed to impose dress codes and appearance policies as long as they don’t discriminate against a person’s race, color, religion, age, national origin or gender. Companies faced with inked and pierced applicants can demand eyebrow rings or tongue rings be removed and tattoos covered to help project the proper image to customers. That is because some customers, particularly older ones who dislike tattoos, could be turned off and they may be less likely to do business with it. Loss of business is a justifiable reason to restrict the display of body art in whatever form it takes.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to enforce. For instance, let’s say you deem it okay for a female employee to have a maximum of two visible piercings, limited to the ear. But you forbid male employees from wearing even one earring. Does this open up the employer to gender discrimination? What if the nose piercing is a religious tradition? Does this exempt the employee from the policy?

Employers will be expected to prove that any policy is job-relevant and just driven by personal preference or bias. Those who disapprove of inked-up and pierced workers must learn to accept those who are willing to follow company guidelines and request that these employees cover up their tattoos and jewelry — or face a shrinking pool of applicants too.

Like facial hair and long hair for men and open-toe shoes and mandatory skirts and stockings for women, tattoos and piercing policies will eventually become relics. I expect there will be a sea change in attitudes toward tattoos in the next 25 years as tattooed and pierced peers begin running more companies. But what goes around comes around. I wonder how the next generation of workers will test their bosses regarding what’s acceptable attire in the office. Then again, the concept of “going to work” is already becoming a thing of the past.

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Random Thoughts on the U.S. Labor Market

Every day I read through dozens of Google Alerts, RSS feeds, emails and newsletters but don’t know what to do with all the information.  So in the first of a series of posts, here are few random, yet sobering, thoughts on the U.S. Labor Market  in 140 characters or less -  Twitter-style.

There is a finite pool of talent worldwide. Support for our technological and physical infrastructure is in short supply.

Technology has increased its pace whereas educational advancement and talent creation have slowed down.

An obsolete 20th century education-to-employment system can no longer cope with the realities of a 21st century global labor market.

40% of workers in the United States and Canada have basic workforce education skill deficiencies.

Only 25% of America’s current eligible workers comfortably meet the new job criteria.

About 95 million adults are reading at or below the 8th grade level of comprehension, disqualifying them for most well-paying jobs.

More than 90 million U.S. workers currently lack the reading, writing and math skills to do their jobs properly.

Compare this to Brazil, where 88% of adults and 97% of youth are literate and 70% of students complete high school.

Although 64% of high schools graduating seniors enter some form of post-secondary education, only 25% graduate with a college degree.

15% of U.S. high schools produce 50% of all the dropouts.

Young people are eager consumers of technology, but not interested in working in technology careers.

Recruiting, retaining and developing skilled people will become so challenging that many businesses will be forced out of existence.

Computers did not cause mass unemployment, but they did create a major upheaval in the nature of work.

75% of U.S. jobs will require both a good liberal-arts-based general education plus post secondary technical training.

The current education-to-employment bureaucracy chokes the innovation and change we need.

Forget Frederick Taylor’s stopwatch management. Start treating people like “brain workers.”

… it seems that the world will end, not with an explosion, but with a slow grinding halt as everything just stops working. A. Brown

We live in a moment in history when change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing. R.D. Laing

Most of these random throughts were highlights from “Winning The Global Talent Showdown“ by Edward Gordon. Ed will be my guest on my radio show, Workforce Trends, on June 16 at 11AM EDT. Tune in!

Based on my random thoughts for this week, I must ask: Are employers underestimating the complexity and pace of change? What do you think?

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