SUNDAY, MARCH 2, 2014
Closing the Gaps Among Generations
by Abdel Abuisneineh*
Student, Concordia University Chicago
Recent studies show that “more than 60% of millennials [young generation employees, born between 1981 and 2000] leaving their company in less than three years” (Schawbel, 2013). In an earlier finding and “according to a 2007 report on employee loyalty from Walker Information, 36 percent of American employees say they plan to leave their current organization within the next two years, a spike of 5 percentage points from 2005” (Durkin, 2008, p. 23). The cost of turnover is mounting, with some estimates stating that “any turnover will affect a business (separation cost, replacement cost, training cost, etc – depending on the job, up to 3x salary)” (Schawbel, 2011).
It is generation diversity that contributes to the creation of these and other array of challenges and opportunities for all types of organizations. Multi-generational organizations enjoy the opportunity of rejuvenating their organizational culture and replenishing their draining brainpower when their senior leaders retire. Well trained employees of new generations step in and replace the shortage of talents.
New generations can also create new and different opportunities for organizations because they are more efficient in handling new innovations, new industrial and information technologies. They may lack the wisdom and long term perspective that older generation possess, but their abilities of interpreting the status quo and the future are far more effective than older generations. This may not be the current opinion amongst the older generations where the “millennials have earned a reputation for being lazy, unprofessional, entitled “digital natives” who expect to start as interns on Monday and be chief executive officers by Friday” (Friese & Jowett, 2013). Whether we like it or not, older generations wont be around in the next 20 years. The millennials generation is the force of change, in the directions that suit their needs, not the needs and philosophy of the older generations.
There is plenty of studies and research work that focused on the need for organizations to study their generational composition in order to facilitate changes in organizational culture, human resources management, and communication methods within the organization. Studying organization generation and generation gaps is becoming more important as more research indicate a growing dissatisfaction among new generations. Retention is becoming increasingly important to organization leaders because of the massive cost involved in hiring and training new members.
New generations need to maintain a balance between work and other aspects of life, want faster career development, demand respect & recognition, and prefer to use their distinct communication methods. Successful organization leaders understand that and try to direct the change to meet those issues.
Some research focused on the other side of the coin, the employees, presenting them with ideas to make a bridge to connect them with older generations. Issues were suggested to improve their marketability and their loyalty and commitment to their employers. Kaye & Jordan-Evans (2003) wrote about gender gaps in organization, but stressed 26 strategies for employees to love their current work instead of leave it. Among other issues Kaye & Jordan-Evans (2003) discussed how employees need to cast their voice, how to plan for career, how to pay respect to get respect, how to plug self in the organization and how to build goals and visions. Many employees moving aimlessly from one employer to another, chasing short term gains find themselves in the same professional position many years later. Kaye & Jordan-Evans (2003) advised employees that while the grass on the other side may look greener, they can, by mowing & fertilizing, make their own grass looks more greener than that on the other side.
An excerpt from Love It Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want At Work. (2001). Retrieved February 3, 2014, from bkconnection.com/static/LoveItDontLeaveItExcerpt.pdf
Durkin, D. (2008), Youth movement. Communication World. 23-25.
Friese, L. & Jowett, F. (2013). The six ways generation Y will transform the workplace. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved February 3, 2014, from theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/the-future-of-work/the-six-ways-generation-y-will-
Schawbel, D. (2013). The cost of millennial retention study. Millennial Branding . Retrieved February 3, 2014, from millennialbranding.com/2013/08/cost-millennial-retention-study/
Schawbel, D. (2011). Who's at fault for high gen-Y turnover? Forbes. Retrieved February 3, 2014, from forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2011/11/22/whos-at-fault-for-high-gen-y-turnover/
* Former college instructor of car insurance and business insurance. Consulting on insurance issues in Chicago, Illinois. Contact crf_abuisna[@]cuchicago.edu