If you are like me, you have been seeing reports for some time that the way we work is changing and that Generations Y& Z expect more than ever before and are even perceived as unreasonable. I laughed out loud when I read this week that Generation Z is mad at the Baby Boomers for not retiring. I find this amusing. How many openings across all industries are there? In fact, of the 28% of Boomers still working, AARP states that ⅓ are part-time. Remember two decades ago when the talk was that there were not enough Generation X workers to get everything done, and they don’t want to work 100 hours a week (how dare they)? Last decade we were hearing about how the Millennials alone will disrupt work and can’t communicate with those older than them. I think we need to back the bus up and take a 30k foot view and find some balance.
First, let’s look at the simple fact that Generation X and the Boomers are their parents and grandparents. Where do you think they got their values and perception of work? Yes, from us.
Now, let’s take the Boomers out of the conversation for this next part. Here are very published traits of each of the remaining three generations. Starting with Generation X.
Independent, self-sufficient and resourceful. The first generation who said enough. We will work to live not live to work. Tend to not be committed to a single employer. Also had two major world changing events that made them very introspective. First, 9/11 and second, the Great Recession. I can speak as someone in this generation that the lessons taken from these two events were instilled in my children – three of which are Gen Y & Z.
Family Centric, flex schedules, work life balance, technologically savvy, value feedback, working with teams, looking for newness, loyal and committed. Now, if we were to describe the ideal candidate for any role or even use these characteristics to describe a friend, everyone would say, “You are crazy not to hire this person,” or, “What a great friend that is.”
Care about making a difference, want a good secure life outside of work, work independently, value real time feedback face to face. Grew up with technology in all aspects of their lives.
Are we seeing anything in this that may be driven from the way they were raised? Next, let’s go back to the basics of our needs as humans. “Maslow.” He was flat out right. All these years later, it is still foundational. We need to feel safe, loved, valued, recognized, and know that we can use our minds. Having a human connection will always win the day. We are seeing this clearly as the trend of work from anywhere is being pulled back for human connection and brainstorming reasons. I love that each generation challenges and puts people first. We should be proud and embrace this exciting time.
The fact is, together we have to redefine how we learn, what education looks like, how the work gets done. That is innovation at its finest.
Every wish of any parent throughout time is that their children have it better than they did, that they grow to make an impact on society; and most importantly, to be happy. We learn because of the stories we share and those memories that we manage made the world of work today.
I see the future of work this way. Everyone working together with aligned values. Working for a company that has aligned purpose. Redefining growth and knowing a lattice career path works. We want to be compensated, educated, and valued. All of this is happening; and in fact, we will thrive as we redefine how work gets done with technology. But people are the foundation of our future, thriving because of our strengths and our need to be connected.
If you are really struggling with attracting and retaining talent, stop and look in the mirror and take the test. Your answer and solution will be there waiting, and it is simple. I choose to write and find the good in this world. There are enough people out there looking for what’s wrong. I am proud of every generation that has blessed the workforce. Because of them, we are evolving.