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Generation Y

Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow: Avoid Being Black-Balled While Giving Out Pink Slips

I recently gave a presentation on the importance of recruiting and retaining younger generations in the workforce when someone in the audience raised his hand in vehement protest.

I recently gave a presentation on the importance of recruiting and retaining younger generations in the workforce when someone in the audience raised his hand in vehement protest.He assured me that concerns regarding younger generations in the workforce were no longer relevant. “All bets are off”, he said, because the economy is in dire straights and younger generations will have to go back to kissing up and climbing corporate ladders.Not so fast! For starters, the economic mess we’ve found ourselves in is not a permanent situation. And it certainly isn’t going to stop people from aging.Forty percent of our workforce will be eligible to retire in 2010. Whether all 40% retire at once, or stagger their retirements throughout the next several years, that percentage will continue to increase with each passing year.Meanwhile, more Ys will enter the workforce. In fact, by 2011 Ys will likely outnumber the Boomers, and we know Ys will support the Xers in their quest for leadership and change.The economy might be in the toilet, but all bets are certainly not off.Further food for thought: whether it happens sooner or later, the exodus of the Boomers from the workforce will leave a talent gap in their wake. Yes, Generation Y is the largest generation but they span ages 26-14. It’s going to be a while until those 14 year olds can catch up and take the reigns vacated by Boomers.Even now it’s critical that employers start preparing for the talent gap, realizing that in the not-too-distant future they will need to compete for talent. How your company handles its hiring processes and layoffs when times are tough, can influence its position when times are prosperous.The once-private process of giving pink slips is becoming increasingly public, whether a firm likes it or not. Know that layoffs will be blogged about, live-tweeted, Facebook’ed – ever more the reason to make sure your communication is sharp. Consider this:

Jerry Yang, founder and CEO of Yahoo!, sent out a memo (all in lowercase letters) about the company’s mass layoffs of 1,500 employees. The event made news because employees Twittered about their experience. One employee posted a series of roughly 20 ‘tweets’ detailing his laying-off experience.Shortly thereafter, the board fired Yang. Some critics assume that Yang’s casual approach to the cutbacks, which received widespread negative attention, spurred the board’s decision to eliminate Yang.One of the first things Zappos.com’s chief executive did when he laid off 125 people was Twitter and blog about it. Likewise, the VP of HR at Thomas Nelson blogged about a job cut of 50 people, first to explain the situation, and then to address rumors related to the cuts.Each of these tales show we’re in a new era of transparency and outreach because of technology. Be ready. All bets are not off, so don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. It–they–will soon be here.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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