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      Gen Yers and Millenials, (born after 1980), are finding their way into the workplace. They promise to be the most demanding and the most productive generation in history. Because Boomers are retiring in record numbers, organizations are increasingly competing for the best of Generation Yers/Millenials to fill a growing gap. Employers need to revise traditional methods to recruit, manage and engage this new generation of workers. They are attracted to employers that respect their individual contributions, provide them with real opportunities, a good salary, and a safe and casual-family-friendly workplace. Organizations need to keep this generation engaged in the global economy by providing the proper career development tools such as, coaching, mentoring, job shadowing, job rotation and training.

1. “Managing Generation Y,” Bruce Tulgan and Dr. Carolyn Martin, HRD Press, 2001,105 pp.

2. “The Aging Workforce: The Reality of the Impact of Older Workers,” Nancy Lockwood, HR Magazine, Dec 2003.

3. See (1).

4. “Job –Hopping Gen Yers Aren’t Disloyal. They’re Smart,” Nadia A. Hira, Fortune 500,, May 30, 2008.

5. “Boomers, Xers, and Other Strangers,” Dr. Rick and Kathy Hicks, Tyndale House Publishers, 1999, 370 pp.

6. “Bridging the Generation Gap,” Linda Gravett and Robin Throckmorton, 2007, Career Press, 222 pp.

7. Coaching Career Development Strategies and Competitive Advantage: Finding Freedom From Within,” Valerie Matthews.

About the Author
Caela Farren, Ph.D., is President of MasteryWorks, Inc. in Falls Church, VA. She has been a consultant, entrepreneur, and educator for over 30 years, Caela has worked with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide to get them on their mastery path. Caela’s practice and company builds strong links between changing trends in industries, changing strategies of organizations and the talents and aspirations of individuals. People who work with her company discover their passion, their mastery path, and bring renewed contribution and high performance to their organizations.

Caela is known internationally for her expertise in developing talent management products and services. Her solutions are user-friendly systems that serve the needs of both organizations and individuals. She is frequently quoted in the media regarding her thoughts and advice on changing careers and work patterns in the nation. Hundreds of organizations have implemented talent management solutions from MasteryWorks, Inc. — consulting, workshops, assessment instruments and web-based talent management portals.
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The Challenges and Opportunities of a New Generation - Ready or Not, Here They Come
by Caela Farren, Ph.D., MasteryWorks, Inc.

     A morning tide filled with Generation Yers and Millenials is resolutely sweeping into the workplace. They promise their co-workers, managers and leaders substantial opportunities as well as significant challenges. Bruce Tulgan and Dr. Carolyn Martin aptly describe these global citizens, born after 1980, as “the most demanding generation in history.”[1]

Rolling up their sleeves and brimming with self-confidence, Gen Yers and Millennials can hardly wait to break with the traditional values of Veterans and Baby Boomers to get to work and make the world a more productive and tolerant place. If Boomers value personal growth and hard work, Millenials are competitive, goal oriented, and prize a balance between work and life. They are a generation that demands competent managers and leaders who will bring the very finest out of them. They are a generation that respects knowledge and innovation. They promise to be the most productive and the most technology-savy generation in history. Only the most effective leaders and managers will be able to recruit, engage and manage the best of them.

What has your Company done to prepare for a New Generation? Because - ready or not, here they come. The question is - are you ready for them? For a frank appraisal of your readiness, see:

The Looming Generation Gap

     The Bureau of Statistics cites a dramatic shift of age demographics in the workforce. About 76 million Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, will have reached retirement age in large numbers by the end of the decade. Boomers make up about 40% of the U.S. workforce, but there simply aren’t enough younger workers to place them as they retire. While the percentage of individuals in the workforce ages 55 and older is expected to grow from 16.5% to 21.2% between 2004 and 2014, workers in age group 25-54 are expected to decrease about 5% in the same period due to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation.

     Gen Yers and Millenials (born after 1980) are expected to decline to 13.7% in the total workplace leaving a potentially disastrous knowledge gap.2 Generation Yers/ Millenials are needed to fill the growing gap.[2] Boomers and Gen Xers make up more than half the American workforce.[3] Mixing Gen Yers and Millenials into a winnowing and graying “Leave It To Beaver” generation promises to be significantly remedial or disastrously explosive. Surely, it will be challenging.

     Who are these GenYers/Millenials? How do you recruit and manage them? What are their values? How can you best fuse them together with Boomers? And how do we help them achieve their lofty promise? see:

The Gen Y Millenial Mindset

Failed communication and conflict across generations can cause rampant employee turnover, affect productivity, morale, and erode services and revenues. Faced with an aging workforce, a new generation of employees, filled with towering ambition, seeking quality friendships at work, anxious to contribute, environmentally active, concerned globally and fully armed technically, now smacks up against the stone-hard reality of the new economy in corporate America.

Perhaps the best way to describe a GenYer/Millenial’s views is to let one tell you. One writer at Fortune 500,, a Gen Yer, responded to accusations of systemic flaws tied to her generation’s character and work ethic in a telling commentary:
  • “… Along with 9/11, the Columbine school shootings, Hurricane Katrina and the increasingly frightening climate change conversation, the layoffs we watched our parents and their friends go through were formative for us. No wonder, when it comes to our worldview, we’re a wary bunch; we’ve seen enough immediate and unpredictable upheaval to know that we can’t wait too long to live our lives. (Put off that safari or landmark visit too long, a Yer might tell you, and those animals and monuments may not exist when you finally make the time to see them. And by the way, the company where you worked for all those years you could have been traveling may not be there for you, either.)”
  • “For those of us who saw our elders give years — even decades — of service to major corporations, only to find themselves suddenly and unceremoniously jobless, corporate America often appears just as scary and unstable (and untrustworthy) as the world at large, if not more so. And whether that’s a fair characterization or not, it certainly doesn’t help when companies operate the way some of those do… in creating a culture of fear and distrust by, among other things, keeping employees completely out of the loop…”
  • “Is it any surprise that Yers are quick to move to the next opportunity — or, to hear some recruiters tell it, be “disloyal”? Could any of us really justify staying “loyal” to a place that we’ve learned could turn us out into the street at any moment, without so much as a farewell e-mail? That sounds a lot more like stupidity than loyalty to me. And even for those young people who — not being all that expensive anyway — manage to keep their jobs, the trauma of seeing older, experienced staffers get the proverbial boot is enough to drive you to the Peace Corps. Every time I’ve accepted a job, it’s been because I saw a great teacher in some person there, someone whom I knew I’d look forward to learning from every day, and who would help me grow in my own career. Sadly, those almost always seem to be the first people to go. And our so-called loyalty usually goes with them.”
  • “Even in my short career — which admittedly has spanned more than a couple organizations, from tiny startup to media titan — I’ve been through a half-dozen rounds of layoffs or more. And let’s just say it hasn’t exactly been an exercise in stellar management. Like when, doing double duty as a writer and the editor’s executive assistant, I had to attend a Thanksgiving party with a group of people I knew would be out of work in a week. (Yet more evidence that it pays to answer the boss’ phone, even if you find out things you’d rather not know.) By the time my boss’ boss started speechifying about how much we had to be grateful for, I was wishing Presbyterians had confession so I could admit to being the worst person on Earth. Talk about disingenuous leadership.”
  • “Then there was the time I was traveling for work and couldn’t get my editor to answer some story questions over e-mail. Assuming I’d annoyed him into silence, I practiced my apology speech all the way to his office — only to find [his office] dark and boxes piled outside. Not, as we say, awesome.”
  • “That isn’t to suggest we don’t understand the need for layoffs, or the legal difficulties downsizing companies may face, which can force them to behave in a less than laudable manner. But even if it isn’t an option to share information with employees via e-mail — or bring them up to speed at all — sometimes a simple “hang in there” or quick visit from a manager is all it takes to put a young person’s mind at ease. Without this sort of input or guidance, we only have the soap opera of management handling (or mishandling, as in the cases above) these situations to guide us, which isn’t much of a marketing campaign if you’re trying to retain or develop employees.”
  • “Never mind that it doesn’t do much to encourage employees to become leaders themselves. … Perhaps because it’s more true than ever that we want to reach our own personal best — which means having the best personal life possible, too, and maybe, you know, not having to fire all your friends — becoming CEO isn’t the holy grail it might have been.”
  • “So, all that to say, the talk of layoffs got me thinking about how some of those criticisms I so often hear leveled against us — like our “disloyalty” and lack of the “right” ambition — aren’t evidence of some sort of generational deficiency, but an almost direct result of the messages corporate America has sent us.
  • “Loyalty’s a two-way street, we’ve realized, and ambition’s only as good as the life it gets you. And if those are the lessons that we finally learn from layoffs, then I say our disloyalty and disdain for the C-suite are really a great testament to our growing common sense. Which ought to make the critics happy, since they keep telling me we need more of that, too.”[4] see:

Boomers and Millenials
     The New Generation of workers promises to redefine excellence in the American workplace because they bring the right stuff with them. What do GenY/Millenials have in common with Boomers? How do they compliment one another? And how do they conflict with each other? Let’s see how they stack up against Boomers.

The sheer size of both generations is huge and size has an enormous impact on society. It influences consumer markets, creates trends, and controls jobs. Although both generations are well educated, their motivation for schooling is different. Surveys indicated that GenY/Millenials go to school for financial
reasons. Money was not the goal for Boomers. They went to school to develop a meaningful philosophy of life. These aging flower children, who would rather make love not war and who marched against the Vietnam War, traded in their Pukah beads and long flowing hair for business suits, crew cuts and a home in the suburbs.[5]

While both Boomers and GenY/Millenials seek meaningful work with flexible work arrangements, Boomers have crested waves of change and layoffs. Boomers now seek money as a reward and look to a healthy life style. They are nurturers, who confine their wisdom to local social issues within their communities. Boomers believe hard work brings success. They neither challenge the status quo nor go outside the chain of commend. They are the linear, hierarchical, workforce generation. For them, work comes first. They have been willing to pay their dues, tolerate mediocre management, and have survived reductions in force. Unlike the new generation who were born digital team players and multi-taskers. Boomers wear blinders. For the most part, they are single tasked, good at jobs requiring long attention spans, and live within the bounds of their own work.

The new generation of Yers and Millenials is more and wants more.

The New Generation
     As Gen Yers and Millenials inexorably find their way to the workplace in greater numbers, age demographics will necessarily shift. The values, culture and structure of the Boomer-dominated generation will succumb to those defined by a new generation of workers brought up in the new economy.

The differences between the two generations are particularly striking. Boomers grew up watching Captain Kangaroo on black and white television sets, spun 33 1/3 and 45’s on record players, and used manual typewriters to write book reports. Gen Yers and Millenials grew up with dual income parents, divorces and daycare. They listened to answering machines and cooked frozen meals in microwave ovens. They surfed cable TVs with remote controls, listened to CD players, and grew up slapping fingers on hand-held video games. They were bent over computers before they could read. (According to the data from Nielsen Online, U.S. online users spent more than 28.5 hours a month on the Internet. One current estimate is that 10-17 year olds will spend a third of their lives or about 23 years at a computer. The Fortino Group).

GenYers and Millenials are the leading edge of on-line Internet revolution that wants to be a part of the collective global social conscience. They were taught to never go outside alone and to fear strangers. They saw assassinations, school shootings, and wars televised in exquisite detail. They watched terrorists attack the twin towers and kill thousands of people. They survived the boom and bust of a technical revolution and they still live in fear of AIDS, Anthrax and Armageddon.

Is it any wonder that GenYers and Millenials worry about carbon footprints and global warming? Are concerned about their safety? Seek quality friendships at home and at work? Are more globally active? Are more committed to making a contribution to work? Volunteer in greater numbers for their causes? Care deeply about projects that will save the planet? See the world with an open mind - accepting diversity in race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. They show more restraint in premarital and unprotected sex, alcohol and drugs than Baby Boomers. This new generation is gifted with an inner social conscious and a passion for accomplishment.

Recruitment - Attracting a Successful Multi-Generational Workplace
     “The key to a competitive and successful workplace is diversity; a workplace that includes individuals from all the generations.”[6] While Boomers are attracted by traditional classifieds, meet and treats, outplacement firms, and recruiting agencies, GenYers/Millenials hunt for jobs on line, through Internet job boards, and company websites. They are turned off by long job descriptions. On the other hand, Boomers want a detailed description of the job being offered. Boomers first consider salary, title, status, and benefits. They want to be included in strategic planning decisions and want to join an organization that will value their experience and use their expertise.

GenYers/Millenials are attracted by terse messages, which stress engaging and fast paced work. They value employers who will respect their individual contributions, provide real opportunities, a good salary, a casual-family-friendly workplace that prizes a work-life balance. The recruitment message should be – this is a “do it your way” growth opportunity with no rules and the coolest technology on the planet.

Managing and Retaining Gen Yers/Millenials
     When Boomers started work in the 60’s and 70’s, they started at the bottom and worked their way up through a number of repetitious and insufferable jobs. The workplace and hours were both inflexible and somber. Many struggled with poor managers who were short on ethics and excellence and long on the bottom line. Innovation was stifled. Promotion was too often a political process rather than based on merit. Race, gender, religion and sexual orientation were steel barriers. Ideas were put in a suggestion box that was emptied once a month if at all. Annual reviews provided no immediate support or encouragement. It took years before management came to value Boomers’ knowledge, experience and ideas.

While each GenYer/Millenial has his or her own needs, surveys demonstrate that the new generation of workers are engaged and managed by respecting their ideas, giving them meaningful jobs, and valuing their work. By giving them responsible jobs, they satisfy their need to add value to the organization. GenYers/Millenials join organizations that offer career opportunities. They are thirsty for knowledge and want to learn from experts. They will not tolerate incompetent or ineffective managers. Managers must be responsive to their needs for developing their skills by listening, respecting and valuing their ideas. Leaders and managers should design career development tools such as, coaching, mentoring, job shadowing, job rotation and training.[7] Also see:

Here are a dozen tips to help you keep the best of the most demanding generation:
  • Encourage them to design and find new ways to accomplish projects.0
  • Give them unattended multiple assignments in parallel.0
  • Give them a partner and allow them to participate on a team.0
  • Clearly explain what you want them to achieve and why the project
    is valuable.0
  • Provide them with continuous assessments and positive feedback.0
  • Publicly recognize their achievements. 0
  • Allow them to utilize their tech- wizardry.0
  • Be willing to try their suggestions.0
  • Tell them how they contribute to the organization.
  • Maintain a safe, friendly and fun workplace.
  • Demonstrate a high level of integrity and commitment.
  • Offer and role model a high degree of excellence and innovation.

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