Despite the recession, Gen Yers are fairly optimistic about the economy and their marketability. Their baby-boomer counterparts, however, are watching retirement funds dwindle and are grappling with the reality of having to work longer. Organizations have to adapt to these new dynamics and ensure both generations are engaged, even during tough times.
“There’s a phenomenon that occurs during economic times like these where people will stay where they are. They’ll hunker down, but they have long memories,” said Leah Reynolds, the national lead of generational talent strategies for Deloitte Consulting. “They may [lose] trust or confidence in the organization because of how it behaved during the bad times, and we know there’s an uptick of movement in the workforce once things start to rebound.”
According to a recent survey by Deloitte, in both industrialized and emerging countries, employees between the ages of 50 and 59 were less engaged and less optimistic than employees between the ages of 20 and 26. And they may become even less engaged with the current recession, as they will need to continue working in organizations that may see them as outdated.
“A lot of them are thinking: I’m going to need to keep this high-level, mega-powered job because my retirement [has] gone down in value,” Reynolds said. “[And] they recognize there are some shifts going on, particularly with technology, that make it somewhat challenging for them to think about staying around and keeping their skills up-to-date.”
To engage them and make sure they have a place within the organization, learning departments can provide training that helps them “reinvent” themselves and retool their skills. Additionally, organizations can forgo the traditional corporate structure.
“We’ve begun to think about working with employers to create some new roles for experienced talent,” Reynolds said. “In other words, give them license to step off the corporate ladder and onto what we call the lattice, which allows more flexibility to move laterally or maybe even ‘down’ so [they] don’t have to be the king or the queen of the mountain anymore.”
As for the younger generation, according to another study by Deloitte, 45 percent of 860 Gen Y employees surveyed said the economy will have either a “positive impact” or “no impact” on their marketability in the workforce. Similarly, they tend to be more confident about the economy.
Reynolds doesn’t believe this optimism is rooted in ignorance. They know what’s happening; they just have a more positive outlook.
“Most generational experts trace the optimism of the Yers back to their baby-boomer parents,” she said. “Boomers as a generation have been fairly optimistic, and so what we find in their offspring is that they tend to be optimistic [too], but not unrealistic. It’s grounded in a savvy take on reality and pretty pragmatic.”
With Gen Yers, development is key to engagement.
“In the research we just did, what comes out loud and clear are development opportunities — what we [might see as] audacious opportunities to take risks [and] learn new things,” Reynolds said. “That’s really to a large degree what they’re clamoring for.”
In this recession, employers have a unique opportunity to take advantage of this enthusiasm.
“What we’ve been saying to employers is there’s really an opportunity. You [have] a potential deal [here] to take talent that so wants great opportunities [and] get things done, which we think could be very compelling to organizations that are struggling to do more with fewer people,” Reynolds said. “Before you say, ‘Hey, they’re just a bunch of kids,’ stop and take another look because they could really be doing some amazing things for you.”Filed under: Technology