As time goes by, each generation has its time to thrive. Baby Boomers have been enjoying their career prime for awhile now and are starting retirement or already have retired. Gen Xers have strived to find their prime and have been making headway. As I noted in an earlier article, Gen Y has been trying to get a foothold but times have been tough. In the coming years, Gen Y will be at a disadvantage because of the knowledge and experience gap created by the current economic climate and Boomer’s prolonging retirement. Companies that have not been cultivating the coming generation will face a talent management crisis once Baby Boomers and Gen X can no longer do all or most of the work necessary. What this means is that those companies will need to develop their Gen Y capacity and since the most talented Gen Y individuals will be highly sought after. To both attract and retain the talented, organizational leadership, management and supervision will be crucial.
There are instances of individuals and companies that are already implementing measures to mitigate the risk and challenge for younger workers that the job market and economy has been creating. These are examples in which lessons can be learned and hopefully emulated by organizations and individuals alike. Not all examples will be feasible, but they can still help.
Many Baby Boomers are working longer, which makes it harder for Gen X and Gen Y to get jobs or move up the corporate ladder. Thankfully, there are some ways of lessening this difficulty. Take Abbot Labs as an example from this Businessweek article. The company has set up an arrangement where veteran workers can opt to work less days, take more vacation, and keep the same contributions to their retirement. While their salaries are decreased, this generates more opportunities for other employees, which will help close in on the knowledge and experience gaps.
Additionally, there are Gen Y individuals who are utilizing technology to their advantage with flexible work styles according to an article by the Whig Standard, an online Canadian news site. These individuals are taking on multiple jobs to fulfill their varied needs and wants out of their professional life, which gives them more experience, skills, and knowledge. These parallel careers are made possible by flexible hours, pay for performance, communication accessibility devices (smart phones and the like) and roles that do not require a regular full time commitment.
– The Knowledge and Experience Gap is Growing-
Despite that there are fine examples that some are undertaking, the overall difficulty that having an entire generation underemployed looms over us. This Businessinsider article states that fewer Gen Y individuals have been working in recent years. The long term challenge that this exacerbates is the widening knowledge and experience gap. With retirement stocks and funds being down, job creation not keeping up with demand and Gen Y individuals struggling to find relevant jobs, this problem won’t go away any time soon. As a result of this, the Gen Y individuals that are employed will become even more valuable in the long haul because they will have the skills and abilities an organization needs. Retention and dedication to the best of these employees will be pivotal.
Management and leadership in organizations will be the crux of harnessing and retaining Gen Y individuals. This finding came from an Appreciative Inquiry initiative in a national power company that studied its own employees, its prospective employees, and Gen Y individuals as a whole. From the 100+ Gen Y interviews done the vast majority (more than 75%) strongly emphasized seeking out and valuing good relationships with their colleagues, supervisors, and leadership. Relationships are supremely important. Knowing this, the next step would be to understand how to cultivate good relationships.
From my personal experience and the professional projects I’ve been on, I’ve found that Gen Y is not easy to please. Unlike other generational trends where a particular kind of reward would often fit anyone from a generational population, Gen Y is so diverse that each member may be motivated by different kinds of rewards. Gen Y’s wants and needs are mixed, yet their supervisors play a highly impactful role in their job satisfaction. Instead, leadership in an organization needs to pave the way to create a culture of mindfulness and awareness throughout the organization. By doing so, it can remain attentive to the needs and wants of its employees effectively and then respond accordingly. For the full paper that I wrote on how to lead Gen Y, see this link: Leading Generation Y by Whit Tice.
A conclusion the paper makes is that cultivating mindfulness, receptivity, and awareness throughout an organization will become increasingly important. This is the fundamental element that will allow management, supervisors, and leadership to understand, appreciate, and create lasting positive relationships with their Gen Y counterparts. Without having such a basis, relationships with Gen Y will be shaky at best. That could lead to an organizational deficiency in knowledge, experience, and the ability to produce high quality work results.
The economy and difficulty Gen Y is experiencing will not go away any time soon. There will be ongoing repercussions for many years to come. To begin to overcome these repercussions, there are positive steps that can be made. A culture of mindfulness would go a long way to helping individuals, teams, and organizations overall.
Earlier Organizational Strategist blog Gen Y article: https://whittblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/unfortunate-trends-for-gen-y-and-more/
Abbot Labs example: http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/nov2009/ca20091111_435788.htm
Gen Y parallel careers: http://www.thewhig.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2264034
Gen Y not working much: http://www.businessinsider.com/young-people-arent-working-anymore-2010-1