Growing up I never heard my father complain about working with the younger generation. Oh yes, he would complain about their music (Rock and Roll) and their weird haircuts (ducktails and waterfalls), but not their work. My father was a little different and preferred not to work with anyone, regardless of age. But the one thing he liked was mentoring those who were eager to learn.
It was an era when many would quit school at sixteen, get a job and retire with the same company, especially in the resource industry on Vancouver Island. The generation gap has always been there and the subject of discussion. It doesn’t matter if they are from; ‘great’, ‘baby-boomer’, ‘millenial’, ‘gen X’, or ‘gen Y’, there is always something to learn from each generation.
In my work experience in human resources and management, I see great potential in the younger generation. Can you motivate them in the same way as the baby-boomers? Absolutely not! We have lost a good number of the high-paying resource jobs and very few companies where you can start at sixteen and work there until you retire. Most have been downsized, rightsized, and bought and sold so there is a loss of the sense of company loyalty. The era of the company looking after you is gone and as I have said many times, everyone is self-employed, whether you work for an employer or not. You are responsible for your own career.
At one time, young people worked so that they could buy a home. Today, many don’t see home ownership as a possibility due to the current price of housing. The younger generation tends to hold recreation, travel, and socializing to a higher value than working. That is not to say they do not enjoy work. Many want to see tangible results from their work. They want to contribute and be acknowledged for what they do. If that doesn’t happen, they will find employment elsewhere.
Add to this the fact that there is a labour shortage in Canada due to the number of retirees leaving the workforce and the younger workers have lots of choices for employment. It is rapidly becoming an employee’s market rather than an employer’s market.
This can be troublesome for employers who do not have an ‘employee retention’ plan. In other words, an approach to encouraging their key employees to stay with the company. Without a plan in place, a company could be in serious trouble if certain employees left. Some employers refuse to believe that employees are key to the success of their company. One client told me that when her employer let her go, he said, “Employees are like batteries, you use them up and throw them away.”
Times have changed; young workers, new values, multi-generational workplaces, new loyalty, and the work still needs to get done.
How’s your retention plan?
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