Archive for September, 2009
Some interesting research from AIM SA regarding the Generation Gap Myth. I’ve never felt comfortable with ‘generation gap’ as a reason for team or workplace dysfunction; it’s more a conversation gap than a generation gap. The finding that ‘similar work ethics are at the core of a strong workplace’ particuarly resonates with me.
What are the key messages for employers?
1. Not all employees are the same, yet it’s not about age
The generation gap does not exist in the workplace as far as this research is concerned. Many respondents were even angry at an insinuation of an age difference. There are four unique segments of employees, yet age and other demographics are of little, if any, relevance. While the four segments revealed are very interesting in terms of unique psychographics and attitudes, they are compiled of people with diverse demographics. Similar work ethics are at the core of a strong workplace.
2. Management should stop shifting the blame
The 2007 research (of Gen X / GenY) concluded that “management needs to take a long hard look at themselves” and that “attempting to shift the blame is viewed as unacceptable”. A consistent response emerged in 2009. While other factors may come in to play, the single biggest reason for staff departures from an employer was poor management. Universally across all segments, a respectful and trustworthy management were demanded in addition to a reasonable standard of output and workload.
3. Communication with staff is a weakness
Only second to strong management was the need for good staff communication. This was viewed as essential across all employees, yet typically a weakness across the research. Even the happy and loyal staff often viewed communication with staff as a weakness. At times they were not kept informed of what was occurring and other times considered the lack of
communication linked to disrespect.
4. Job satisfaction does not equal loyalty
Even the happiest staff are not necessarily loyal. There is little difference between age groups and segments of employees with regard to loyalty. While 87% of employees are happy, 64% are likely to be with the same employer in three years. Consistent with the 2007 research amongst Gen X and Y staff, the 2009 research of all employees revealed only around 5-10% of employees as extremely happy and extremely likely to be with the same employer in three years. In saying this, it does appear that staff aged 40-59 are slightly more loyal. Staff aged 60+ appear to be the least loyal, although this could at least partly be attributed to a lower level of perceived job security and retirement plans.
5. Older staff are not that different
Staff aged 60+ appear to be the least loyal, although this could at least partly be attributed to a lower level of perceived job security. Most have an enthusiastic attitude to work and are
not dissimilar to younger employees. They are often seeking professional development and challenges as are other employees. For many, they now have an invigorated relationship to work and may be seeking a second, third or subsequent career change. There is generally an eagerness to work within a team of differing ages. They prefer managers aged 38-60.
Last night I attended the Chief Executive Women (CEW) Annual Dinner and was fortunate to hear the key note speech from one of Australia’s top female execs – Gail Kelly. At No 18 on this year’s Forbes List of Most Powerful Women, Gail ranked higher than Oprah and the Queen!
As CEO of Westpac, Gail has had quite a ride since her appointment some 20 months ago. A merger with St.George and the GFC to boot, Gail has aimed high and demonstrated great resilience. All this, and a mother of four children, including teenage triplets!
Gail articulated her main aims as being quite simple;
1. Be in the moment and 100% ‘present’ to whomever you are with – clients, staff, family or friends
2. Delight customers
Thank you Gail for leading the way!
Check out the cover story in the latest HC Magazine where SageCo directors talk with Iain Hopkins about the the value of experienced workers in an economic downturn. This is a wide ranging article on the risks, challenges and opportunities of an ageing workforce featuring:
- tips and hints for getting started
- definitions of the four different employer segments and how they’ve embraced mature workers
- helpful questions to ask yourself and your team
- potential pitfalls
- how to measure success