Are you readying your firm for the coming generation gap?

American Firms have certainly faced some challenges as of late; a recession is no easy fete to survive. However, another challenge looms just ahead. With the economy seeming to be in recovery, the Dow once again hovering around 10,000 and your 401k inching towards its pre-recession balance, the baby boomers are also nearing their retirement age creating a potential mass exodus from the workforce.

Many experts believe that the baby boomers lead approximately 80% of American firms and that the mass retirement of so many senior level individuals in the same general time period will lead to one of the largest talent shortfalls of all time. Of course, waiting anxiously in the wings are the young “up and comers” from Generation X and Generation Y.

It’s not just the population numbers you must consider (both Generation X and Generation Y are smaller than the Baby Boomers Generation); there are distinct generational differences of the future workforce for your company. As you prepare your organization for the future, you must consider these differences and the affect they could have on the culture of your company. In particular, the difference between the Baby Boomers and Generation Y workers (also known as the Millenials or the Echo Boomers) are substantial. Traditional recruiting methods, values and norms will need to be revamped as your workforce changes.

One example, job hopping – thought to be a negative indicator in the baby boomer generation, job hopping is considered the norm for the younger worker and is not necessarily an indicator of concern.

As you prepare for the next generation, I thought it might be helpful to outline a few other characteristics of the fastest growing segment of today’s workforce, Generation Y:

* They seek challenge, diversity and creativity in the workplace. If any of these characteristics are lacking they will not hesitate to seek a new employer.

* The fast-track and desire to work your up within an organization is not a priority – work-life balance is.

* There is an ability and desire to work hard, but in return, there is an extremely high expectation for the employer. In most cases, what the worker has as an expectation of for the return on their investment of time is higher than what employers are currently offering.

According to a Lee Hect Harrison Survey I recently reviewed, with the inter-generational differences that exist, as many as 60% of American Companies will experience tension in the workplace. It is my suggestion that a wise organization needs to begin bridging the generation gap now.

More to come!
David Lammert

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