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Generations Working Together For A Change

In my work with generations, I’ve heard so much about how employers fear change, even loath change. Well, maybe they haven’t described it in exactly those terms, but when employers say things like: “Why do these younger employees expect praise just for showing up?,” or “We can’t have people working from home because we don’t know that they are actually working,” and “Do I really have to tweet?” — they are really voicing their opposition to change.

In my work with generations, I’ve heard so much about how employers fear change, even loath change.

Well, maybe they haven’t described it in exactly those terms, but when employers say things like: “Why do these younger employees expect praise just for showing up?,” or “We can’t have people working from home because we don’t know that they are actually working,” and “Do I really have to tweet?” — they are really voicing their opposition to change.

Then the economy tanked, and fear was running rampant. There is fear of the unknown (could I lose my job?) and the known (my company just merged!). 

Now, Generation Y is faced with skyrocketing unemployment rates and fear the inability to get or keep a job.

Baby Boomers are faced with plummeting retirement accounts and fear not being able to afford to retire.

And Generation X, sandwiched in the middle of these two generation giants, is caring for children and aging relatives and juggling a career. They fear the loss of financial stability and the inability to advance their careers in the midst of prolonged retirements and the fast-approaching arrival of a more tech-savvy and educated Generation Y.

Perhaps now, more than ever, we are all afraid.

Perhaps now, more than ever, the generations can relate to one another.

But before we put our arms around each other and starting singing kumbaya, we must accept that fact that change is inevitable. In fact, in this duck-and-cover mentality we’re in, the only thing keeping employees at your organization will be change.

Why? Because most employees are sick and tired of feeling fearful. They are fed up with working at jobs where they aren’t appreciated for employers who are stuck in limbo or ‘safe mode’. They’re craving more mobility, opportunity, promotions, and innovation.

This is especially true with Generation Y. This generation values personal happiness and are more likely to leave an unsatisfying job. With the economy on the rebound, they will be the first to walk away from organizations resistant to change to find new opportunities.

So how does an organization change when fear is a constant presence? How do you keep employees engaged, optimistic, and focused on the future? Here are a few ideas:

  • Create horizontal growth and engagement opportunities.
  • Begin a mentor program.  It gives your top performers a sense of altruism, teaches management skills, and gives newcomers exposure.
  • Cross train your team.  It gives your team new skills and gives management incredible flexibility.
  • Encourage your team to network outside of the office and attend events that provide training opportunities.
  • Start a blog that your team can contribute to.

First, change drove the generations apart. Now, change has the capability to bring the generations back together. It turns out, change isn’t that scary after all.

What’s your organization doing to embrace change and keep employees engaged? We’d love to hear from you! Please post your comments and ideas 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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