Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dead is the New 80 (Originally published August 2008)

Baby Boomers, known for their professional identity and optimism, are poised to redefine retirement and aging just as they have redefined every other phase of their lives. A 2006 Merrill Lynch study found that 71% of all employees, regardless of age, intend to spend at least part of their retirement years working. Of those who intend to continue to work part-time after retirement, 45% say they never plan to stop working completely. Boomers expect to stay youthful and employed into their 60s, 70s and 80s, but eventually they, too, will grow old and face the realities of aging that are posing new challenges for employers. Consider the following:
  • Aging affects the energy and mental clarity of older workers and can place employers in awkward positions when managing performance.
  • Since many organizations do not offer age discrimination training, employers will likely face an increase in age related litigation among the sizable Boomer generation.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 40% of Americans over 65 have some sort of disability, compared with only 12% of those between 16-63. Many employers will see a surge in disability claims as a result of their much-needed aging workforce.
  • Employers will need to make more Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations as Boomers age, including amplified audio-visual equipment and desks that accommodate wheelchairs.
Aware of the pending labor shortage caused by the population decrease after Boomers, employers recognize the need to attract and retain older workers. However, the vast majority is not prepared for the challenges that will come with their aging workforce. How ready are you???

Want more insight and tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Law Firms & the Generational Divide (Originally published July 2008)

Changes within the legal profession over the last 20 years are now posing challenges for law firms wishing to recruit and retain younger associates. While older attorneys continue to work long hours and drive business, high billable hour expectations and associate-to-partner ratios are causing younger attorneys to question the system. Compounding the problem are demographic shifts that will challenge the profitability and very sustainability of many firms in the near future. Considering the following:
  • Traditionalists and Baby Boomers, representing close to 50% of attorneys in the US, will begin to retire or change careers in record numbers over the next decade
  • The pending shortage of Generation X lawyers, a small cohort almost half the size of the Boomers, will cause significant setbacks to firms' succession plans
  • The latest generation to enter the legal profession, the Millennials, have already begun to challenge the "workaholic" legal culture by publicly ranking firms on the internet according to diversity, billable hour and pro bono participation metrics
The challenge to law firms will be to develop strategies to recruit, motivate and retain attorneys while remaining profitable. Firms that proactively navigate the generational divide today by considering the needs of a multigenerational workplace will not only achieve an overwhelming competitive advantage in the future. They will still be around to enjoy their success.

Want insight and tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tomorrow's Nonprofit Leaders (Originally published June 2008)

A recent study produced by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Meyer Foundation and Idealist.org found that over the next decade, nonprofits will face significant obstacles to recruiting new leaders to replace retiring Baby Boomers. Among the survey's key findings include the reality that younger generations:
  • View the work associated with executive nonprofit leadership as unappealing due to overwhelming fundraising responsibilities and compromised personal lives.
  • Have major concerns about nonprofit salaries and lifelong earning potential.
  • Receive inadequate mentorship and career grooming from the generations above them.
  • Feel alienated and underutilized by top down decision making and rigid organizational structures of nonprofit organizations.
  • Do not believe that a career in the nonprofit sector is essential to making a difference and impacting social change.
A full report of the survey is available for download at http://www.meyerfoundation.org. For additional free resources on navigating the generation divide, log on to http://www.interchange-group.com.

Science & Engineering - The Canary in the Coal Mine (Originally published April 2008)

More and more industries are facing the reality of an aging workforce. Whether older workers retire gradually or in droves, one thing is for certain: There will NOT be a 1:1 replacement ratio of talent. In the next decade the shortage of skilled workers available in the U.S. will reach new heights. One of the first sectors to feel the impact of these demographic shifts is Science and Engineering. What unfolds in this arena will likely foreshadow the labor market at large, and challenge the very viability of some businesses.
  • 26% of all Science and Engineering degrees holders are over 50
  • 40% of Science and Engineering doctorate degree holders are over 50
  • 27% of Engineers in the Aerospace and Defense industries are eligible for retirement this year
  • Enrollment in U.S. graduate Computer Science and Engineering programs is decreasing while the global market for talent in these fields is increasing
  • Among the dwindling numbers of graduates from American universities, an increasing number of foreign born Science and Engineering students are leaving the U.S. upon graduation due to a lack of available H1-B visas
Science and Engineering industries will have to face this challenge. What trends do you see in your own organization? What steps do you need to take to ensure its future?

Want more insight and tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Developing Leaders of the Future (Originally published February 2008)

As Baby Boomers (born 1944-1962) move closer to retirement, many organizations are struggling to fill their shoes. The small cohort of Generation Xers (born 1963-1981) following them may not be enough to carry the burden. Companies need to look to both Gen Xers and their younger colleagues, the Millennials (born 1982-2000), to develop as future leaders. With their free agent mindsets, upcoming generations need to know that they are being groomed for opportunities. Here are some key strategies to accelerate their development and ensure retention:
  • Provide accessible internal and external training opportunities, with tuition reimbursement whenever possible
  • Ensure trainers use experiential learning techniques and technology based support that reflect the values and learning styles of the younger generations
  • Avoid poor quality photocopies and outdated PowerPoint presentations that turn off Gen Xers and Millennials to conventional training
  • Create online communities of practice and wikis that all employees can participate in anytime, anywhere
  • Restructure traditional mentoring and coaching programs to meet the changing needs and expectations of younger workers
Want more insight and tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

National Differences In Millennial Tech Use (Originally published December 2007)

A recent MTV study of 18,000 youth from 16 countries offers key insights into how the U.S. Millennial generation (born after 1981) and their peers elsewhere use technology. The results reveal surprising national differences in media behavior and attitudes even across bordering countries. These findings challenge how employers use communication technology to recruit and engage young people around the world.
  • In Asia, Chinese youth have the lowest mobile phone usage of any nation surveyed, but rely heavily on the Internet to develop online social networks, communicate virtually and share content.
  • Neighboring Japanese youth socialize away from the home and depend on mobile phones, not computers, to stay in touch with peers.
  • In Europe, young Germans use the web the least of all countries studied, with only 25% saying they love the Internet.
  • Next door, young Dutch are 3 times more likely than their German counterparts to view the Internet favorably.
  • In the Americas, Brazilian youth claim the most online friends in the world (46 compared with the global average of 20).
  • Video games play a substantial role with U.S. teens, one third of who say they can't live without their game consoles.
Want more insight and tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

What Gen X Men Want (Originally published August 2007)

Men in Generation X (born 1963-1981) with children spend as much as one hour more per day with their kids than Baby Boomer men (born 1944-1962) did at their age. When surveyed, 71% of men across all generations say they would take a pay cut to have more free time. 66% would consider looking elsewhere for positions that provided more flexibility. Gen X men are especially likely to want more work-life balance but worry that talking about it will jeopardize their careers. They may opt to find another job with established programs to balance work and other commitments rather than negotiate with their current employer.

The desire for flexibility doesn’t mean Gen X men want to give up their careers. Most are just looking for jobs that let them develop as professionals while having personal time outside of work. Here are some strategies to engage them in a competitive labor market.
  • Ensure job descriptions are achievable and not overloading any one position
  • Reward for results and productivity, not face-time and hours spent in the office Focus on team-driven approaches to work that create 24/7 service without compromising individual needs to refuel
  • Use language that values efforts to find balance rather than stigmatizing it
  • Provide opportunities for all employees to balance work with other activities as appropriate through telecommuting, flextime, and other programs
Want more insight and tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Millennials In Asia (Originally published July 2007)

U.S. Millennials (born after 1981) entering the workforce are profoundly challenging the way employers communicate, manage and organize resources. A resulting paradigm shift within American and multinational organizations is almost certain. Understanding young people in other parts of the world helps us to see how they also impact the shift. Here are some interesting facts about 18-25 year-olds in Asia:
  • A Business Week survey of students at China’s top MBA programs revealed an unprecedented drive for managerial excellence, Chinese style. Over 25% plan to start businesses in the next five years and the majority intends to pursue careers in China instead of the previously coveted U.S.
  • SHRM reports that the median age of India’s workforce is 25. Fewer than 12% have college degrees. With employee attrition as high as 70% in some industries, entry-level workers are successfully commanding high salaries and responsibilities seemingly disproportionate to their skill sets
  • The Bank of Japan Review reports that excess employment by older Japanese workers has caused a high rate of unemployment and part-time employment among younger workers. Without full-time job opportunities right out of school, a growing percentage of Japan’s youth are being displaced from the traditional career systems found in most Japanese organizations and may never catch up.
Want more insight and tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Millennials & Compensation (Originally published May 2007)

Millennials (born approx. 1981-2000) are coming into the workforce with high salary aspirations. Once on the job, their expectations of rapid promotion and pay increases confound employers who expect a certain level of performance and service to justify a raise. One compensation innovation used in manufacturing environments today is skill-based pay, which compensates employees for skills, not job titles, and ties salary increases to the acquisition of new, relevant skills. Skill-based pay, also known as knowledge-based pay, lends itself well to the Millennial mindset. Here’s why:
  • It validates Millennials for their existing aptitude and ensures they’ll receive financial recognition for mastery of new skills
  • It empowers Millennials to take control of their professional development through targeted goal setting
  • It’s a symbolic departure from the traditional “pay-your-dues” approach, a model Millennials bristle at
  • It places the emphasis on training, a value Millennials hold dear
Want more tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Telecommuting Across the Generations (originally published April 2007)

Telecommuting is an effective recruitment and retention tool as demands for flexible work arrangements increase. The key to a successful telecommuting program is to keep everyone connected, since out-of-sight easily means out-of-mind. Employees from all generations are interested in telecommuting but for different reasons. Understanding these motivations is critical to developing the program that is right for your organization.
  • Traditionalists see telecommuting as a way to stay connected to their profession on a part-time work schedule
  • Baby Boomers perceive telecommuting to be a method for mitigating burnout and recalibrating their careers
  • Gen Xers want opportunities to telecommute in an effort to balance work and family
  • Millennials view telecommuting as a means to manage their multiple professional and extracurricular commitments
Want more tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Information Security Across the Generations (originally published February 2007)

Generation X paved the way with Napster. Their younger cohorts, the Millennials, have fully embraced sites like YouTube and MySpace to share information freely. Compare this with older generations’ attitudes toward proprietary information and you have a costly culture clash. Personal electronic devices are everywhere - cell phones, Blackberries and iPods are only the beginning - and how your employees use them and view intellectual property will have drastic consequences for your business.

Many organizations are updating their information security policies and procedures taking the differences in generational attitudes and practices into account. Here are a few suggestions to help you follow in their path:
  • Conduct a 3rd party assessment of the technological and physical security of your organization’s proprietary information
  • Create policies and train employees on the sharing and downloading of company information
  • Provide training on appropriate Internet, email, instant messaging, and camera phone use on site and off
  • Educate employees on the appropriate use of social networking websites for personal and business purposes
Want more insight and tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Retaining Trusted Traditionalists (originally published November 2006)

Loyal, hardworking and faithful to institutions, Traditionalists (born c. 1925-1945) are a vital resource for any organization. As evidenced by the demand for this generation’s knowledge and expertise during Y2K, many employers can’t afford to lose them just yet. That’s a good thing, since Traditionalists are willing to work past retirement if offered flexible schedules or project based employment.

Successful companies are finding innovative ways to retain and leverage older workers while planning longer-term succession strategies. Here is how you can get started.
  • Pair Traditionalist mentors with younger workers to transfer knowledge to the next generation
  • Create alternative retirement programs that allow Traditionalists part-time work
  • Train Traditionalists on new technology to update their skill sets
  • Include Traditionalist perspectives in your strategic planning by placing them in advisory roles or on advisory boards
  • Implement an intranet resource (a “Wikipedia” for your company) where Traditionalists can document knowledge and expertise
Want more insight and tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Engaging Baby Boomers (originally published August 2006)

As the first Baby Boomers approach traditional retirement age, employers fear a significant loss of talent and productivity. However, a drive for professional recognition, the desire for an active lifestyle, and in many cases insufficient retirement savings will prompt many Boomers to keep working. That doesn’t mean they’ll remain in the same organization or capacity. Instead, Boomers will seek opportunities to work less and in different roles that provide more meaning to them as their motivations change.

How can you retain the knowledge and expertise of Boomers while keeping them engaged? Here are some solutions:

  • Create alternative work models that include flexible schedules, telecommuting, and sabbaticals.
  • Involve Boomers in developing programs to transfer knowledge to younger generations.
  • Help Boomers draft career plans that marry their needs with your company’s.
  • Offer financial planning services as part of your benefits package.
  • Provide training to update Boomer skill sets and keep them competitive.

Want more insight and tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Generation X & Work Life Balance (originally published August 2006)

Work-Life balance is a high priority for Generation Xers (born 1962-1981). These “latchkey kids” felt the brunt of tripled divorce rates and late-working, dual-income parents. As a result, Gen Xers make different career choices to balance work and life. Many choose jobs closer to home over promotions. Others opt out of the workforce altogether to care for young children or freelance.

What does this mean for employers relying on Gen Xers to take over from retiring Baby Boomers? How will companies keep this generation motivated and loyal? Traditional succession plans, incentive strategies and promotional tracks won’t work. Organizations thinking differently about recruiting and retaining this cohort can gain a competitive advantage. Here are some quick tips:

Help Gen Xers balance work and life commitments!

  • Offer telecommuting and flexible work schedules
  • Utilize comp days as incentives for productivity
  • Reward for results, not hours spent in the office
  • Provide time-saving “maintenance” services (e.g. house cleaning, dog-walkers, car washes)
  • Highlight work-life balance success stories in your company’s newsletter

Want more insight and tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com.

Millennials & Volunteerism (originally published July 2006)

Volunteer work among the Millennial generation (born 1982-2003) is at an all time high of 83%. Combine this with their unprecedented ability to organize collectively using technology (think MySpace.com meets the Red Cross) and you have a force of 75 million activists changing the face of charitable contribution.

But what does this mean for employers as Millennials enter the US labor market? Companies relying on recent college graduates are looking for an answer. Many have experienced costly employee attrition by not addressing this generation’s drive to both make a difference and find meaning in their work. A handful of organizations know how to hold on to these workers and create a competitive advantage in the process. Want to know their secret?

Get creative with your organization’s volunteer opportunities!

  • Offer employees opportunities to donate pretax dollars to charities of their choice
  • Highlight community involvement in your company newsletter
  • Provide occasions for hands-on volunteerism during work hours
  • Organize employee teams to collectively volunteer
  • Match off-work employee volunteer hours with paid time off
Want more insight and tips for managing the different generations in your workplace? Contact us at www.interchange-group.com.


Welcome to Generational Interchanges, a resource for research and bite-size bits of useful information and tips on working with different generations in organizations.

To get readers up to speed on my work, I'll be posting past editions of Generational Interchanges that were originally published in the Interchange Group's online newsletter. Enjoy!