Posts Tagged ‘Generation Y’

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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Employers and Employees On Collision Course

Employers and employees are obviously headed for a collision to be played out in a workplace near you.  A recently released Deloitte report called the standoff “a tale of two mindsets.”

Many employers seem to believe their employees have few options in this weak economy.  They feel employees should feel lucky they have job.

Employees, especially the most talented and qualified, see the world a bit differently. Among employees surveyed in the Deloitte survey, a significant number of workers are looking to jump ship. Thirty percent of employees are currently working the job market and nearly half are at least considering leaving their current jobs.

That stands in sharp contrast to the executives who were surveyed. Only 9 percent of executives expect voluntary turnover to increase significantly among Generation X employees. That means 9 out of 10 executives may be ignoring the elephant in the room.

The survey revealed that about 22 percent of Generation X employees are actively job hunting.  Even more alarming, only 37 percent plan to remain with their current employers.  Employers might find Generation Y a little stickier when it comes to retention but even then 44 percent plan to stay put over the next year.

Employee retention isn’t the only thing that executives and employees appear to disagree on. When asked to rank their top three retention tactics, employees chose in every instance different non-financial incentives than the executives. Even greater differences existed when executives were asked to identify retention strategies that might appeal to different generations.

For instance, Gen Y and executives agreed that additional compensation and bonuses were effective.  But that’s where agreement broke down.  While 29 percent of the executives believe flexible work arrangements were what Gen Y wanted, nearly 4 out of 10 Gen Y employees said they wanted job advancement opportunities.  Generation X wants a job with good wages but are only willing to stay if they can learn new skills too.

Like they’ve done many times in the past, Baby Boomers break the mold on retention strategies too.

Baby Boomers are looking for strong leadership, additional bonuses, and more compensation. Executives offer benefits, bonuses and flexible work arrangements.

Based on the results of this survey, executives are offering money and flexibility while the three most active generations in the workplace want opportunity, bonuses, and compensation.  Executives need to learn that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to employee retention and stop using the recession as their primary retention strategy.

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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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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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Gen Y Gets Religion Online

Amazon, eBay, Priceline — we’ve come to accept these virtual shopping places for every day purchases of books, records, travel and even used cars. While the Internet didn’t strike a fatal blow to bricks-and-mortar retail, it certainly changed the way buyers buy and sellers sell.

So you shouldn’t be surprised that religion has also found a new home on the Internet. And that traditional houses of worship are going virtual. In a simple search for “churches in Second Life,” I found the following places of worship listed on the first page: Second Life Synagogue Temple Beit Israel, Chebi Mosque, Chapel for the Holy Mother of God Maria and First Unitarian Universalist Church of Second Life.

Just as they go online for everything from Facebook to finances, a growing number of young people are finding faith online, most notably in the virtual world known as Second Life.

Young people are not only creating their own religious identities, they may also be changing the future of worship itself. Looking to the future is the challenge. Many religious organizations are realizing that to shepherd the millennial flock, you must meet them where they live … online.

“I think [this] generation is really turned off by the term religion,” LifeChurch.TV’s Pastor Bobby Gruenewald says. LifeChurch.TV boasts 80,000 congregants through the web. They log on to hear sermons and chat with other worshippers.  Other online congregations are popping up daily where they connect with the digitally connected faithful through faith-based phone apps, worship Web pages, online scripture readings, even prayer websites. And… tweeting is encouraged.

The Internet also levels the playing field between young people and the authority of the church, giving them a sense of control that previous generations never had.

This may also explain why a recent Pew Research Center study on Generation Y and religion found that while young adults are the least overtly religious American generation in modern times, the number of young adults who say they pray every day rivals the portion of young people who said the same in prior decades. According to a new Pew Research study, one in four Millennials (as the generation between 18 and 30 years old is also known) are unaffiliated with any religion, far more than the share of older adults when they were ages 18 to 29. But belonging does not necessarily mean not believing in the minds of these Millennials.

A Lifeway Christian Resources study offers additional insight into what appears on the surface to be just another widening gap between the generations. Seventy-two percent of Millennials say they are more spiritual than religious. While the study did find that fewer of them attend worship services, pray or read sacred scriptures, I wonder what percentage might gravitate toward online or virtual religion when it comes to prayer.

“Online, what people are doing is seeking out truth,” Rebecca Phillips, vice president of social networking for Beliefnet.com, “and it might not be in the traditional way of a pastor speaking from a pulpit.”

Second Life was created by Linden Lab in San Francisco in 2003; its founders imagined a social platform for an idealized online society. Membership has soared to 18 million and 1 billion hours logged on “in life.” Second Life has established a thriving economy that grew 93% in 2009 and transacted the equivalent of more than $1 billion. It has become a popular venue for politics and education.

For a quick introduction to Second Life, you can download a free excerpt from my book, Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization and view this YouTube video, An Introduction to Second Life.

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Sizemore sizes up ‘Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization’ in HS Dent Forecast

In one of those “this made by day” moments, a friend of mine forwarded a review of my book Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization.  The review was written by Charles Sizemore at HS Dent and published in the March 2010 edition of the HS Dent Forecast. Not only was I pleased – no, ecstatic – over the author’s insight and comments, it was especially rewarding because it was completely unsolicited and unanticipated.

The book review in its entirety is posted below.

“What is a generation?” asks Ira Wolfe in his new book Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization. “A generation is a group of people who are programmed by events they share in history while growing up… a common set of memories, expectations, and values based on headlines and heroes, music and mood, parenting style, and education systems.”

I would agree with this definition, and would add that it ties in with the concept of generation gap. Parents (and sometimes even older siblings) often do not “get” their kids. They don’t understand their vocabulary. They don’t understand what motivates them. And they absolutely, for the life of them, cannot understand why a pieced eyebrow is cool. (Who am I to criticize…in my childhood, coolness was defined by acid-washed jeans that were tightly rolled around the ankles and permed hair and makeup on male rock stars. Go figure.)

Mr. Wolfe’s book is an interesting study on the relationships between the generations in the workplace. It’s very similar in substance to the generational work done by William Strauss and Neil Howe (Generations, The 4th Turning, Millennials Rising), but it’s much less academic and, frankly, quite a bit easier to digest. Corporate executives who find themselves managing a multigenerational workforce should find the book quite valuable, as should anyone struggling to understand the generation gap in their own home, for that matter.

Wolfe speaks of the generations as if they were single members of a large family. At this stage in their careers, the Baby Boomer managers are “parents,” while the Echo Boomer employees are “kids.” Generation X, stuck in the middle as always, is analogous to an unloved older stepchild, cut off from the nurturing love fest between the Boomers and Echo Boomers.

Of Generation X, Wolfe writes “Coming of age in the shadow of the Baby Boomers virtually ensured that this generation would be overlooked and ignored; like Great Britain’s Prince Charles, they are the workplace ‘heirs apparent,’ waiting endlessly and impatiently to assume leadership.”

And like the unfortunate Prince Charles, their waiting has no end in sight. Gen X is hitting a “gray ceiling,” as the incumbent Boomers refuse to retire and make room at the top. But while Gen X waits for its chance to take the reins, Gen Y is slowly coming up behind them. Given the symbiotic relationship between the Boomers and their “Mini Me,” the Echo Boomers, Gen X is right to worry about being leapfrogged.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Gen X is a very entrepreneurial generation; with the Baby Boomer generation acting as an 80-million-person roadblock to their career advancement, it is understandable that Gen Xers believe that their best chance to excel is through starting their own businesses. Of course, Gen X also watched their parents and older brothers suffer through the layoffs and restructurings of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Seeing quality professionals lose their jobs through no fault of their own made Generation X grow up a little cynical and mistrusting of large companies.

Wolfe also has a secondary theory for Generation X’s independence and somewhat prickly demeanor. While the Echo Boomers were the “trophy kids” who were coddled from birth by their well-intentioned soccer moms who slathered them in antibacterial hand wash every time they left the house, Gen X was the “latch-key kid” generation. They had to fend for themselves at a young age. They also weren’t required by law to wear a helmet and knee pads every time they rode their bike to school, nor were they required to sit in a car kiddy seat until puberty. In short, they weren’t smothered by their mothers (or by the “nanny state”), and they were allowed to be kids — little Huck Finns and Tom Sawyers who got into a lot of trouble but ended up stronger for it.

Don’t underestimate this personality characteristic; you don’t realize how valuable it is until you see the alternative: the neediness of the Echo Boomers (also called the “Millennials” and “Gen Y”). In smothering their children with things like “My kid is an honors student” bumper stickers, the Baby Boomers have created a codependent monster in the Echo Boomers they raised. Echo Boomers require constant attention and affirmation in the workforce. They’re emotional and oversensitive. And they don’t understand why it’s not ok to wear an eyebrow piercing into a place of business if you want to be taken seriously or that it’s rude to have your face buried in a text message when someone is talking to you. (This is my personal pet peeve. Though she is now a married professional in her mid-20s and generally has good manners, my Echo Boomer kid sister has the annoying habit of doing the “Blackberry prayer” when I’m trying to talk to her. Her husband does it too. It’s maddening.)

Wolfe does an excellent job of describing the frustrations felt by managers today:

At school, teachers accentuate the positive. Kids no longer fear the bad report card — teachers do. This generation was treated so delicately that many schoolteachers stopped grading papers and tests in harsh-looking red ink to avoid bruising the child’s precious self-esteem. Managers in turn must now tread lightly when making even the most benign critique…

How did these kids get this way? For many Millennials, few “accomplishments” didn’t rate some type of acknowledgement. In games, it was common for everyone to receive a trophy — win or lose — thus the name “trophy kids…” The lesson shifted from “second place is the first place for losers” to “everyone who plays is a winner.”

This generational tension is a bit ironic. While many managers and most of the media targets the kids, the blame might fall squarely on the very people doing the loudest complaining — doting parents, teachers and coaches. After all, the grumbling Baby Boomer managers are the same indulgent parents who raised the millennial generation after starting families late in life or vowing not to make the same mistake twice with children from second and third marriages.

Wolfe, a graying Baby Boomer, is certainly no crotchety old man wagging his finger at “kids these days.” Quite to the contrary. (If anything, it is me, your younger Gen X writer who fits that description.) Wolfe sees a lot of untapped potential in this young generation. What I might consider a short attention span, an inability to focus, and insufficient attention to detail, Wolfe calls “hyperalertness,” defined here as an “advanced form of mental flexibility.” I would consider instant messaging three friends while simultaneously uploading photos to Facebook, blogging about rock bands, playing Second Life, and listening to an iPod to be a colossal waste of time of absolutely no economic value. I certainly wouldn’t call it “multitasking.” But I guess that makes me old school.

At any rate, Mr. Wolfe’s objective is not to pass judgment. His objective is to help managers better understand those under their control. And on this front, Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization is a useful too. I’d recommend this book to anyone in a position of authority over a multigenerational workforce.

Charles Sizemore, CFA

This book review was originally published in the March 2010 edition of the HS Dent Forecast.

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