The Importance of Knowing Your People
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Last week, I had an opportunity to speak to a great group of folks from the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations about generational differences in the workforce. One of my favorite parts of that experience was when we broke into groups based on our generation and answered a few questions around what we valued.

I have developed quite the relationship with my heating pad. The relationship is new and we’re figuring things out. It’s funny, my heating pad has been right in front of me for a really long time, right there in my linen closet, and I just never paid him much attention. All that changed a couple of months ago when I discovered that I was developing all these aches and pains. Now I can’t imagine my life without my heating pad.

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Oh, I should probably mention that I’m a Gen Xer.

What does that have to do with anything? A lot, apparently. Last week, I had an opportunity to speak to a great group of folks from the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations about generational differences in the workforce. One of my favorite parts of that experience was when we broke into groups based on our generation and answered a few questions around what we valued.

I do this exercise regularly in my presentations and one thing is always the same: generations value different things. However, on this day I heard something new from the Gen Xers. In response to more than one question, they brought up concerns about their health. I noticed, but I didn’t think much of it until later when I was putting my heating pad under my neck.

The generation of people born between the years 1965-1981 are starting to experience the affects of aging and it is changing what they value. This is incredibly important for workforce leadership to pay attention to if they want to retain a multi-generational workforce.

The 21st century workforce is nuanced. To be successful, an organization must pay attention to the individual needs of its people. The tricky part that my recent experience with the AOPO illustrates is that needs and values evolve. So what to do?

Pay attention. Keep asking questions. Keep learning about your people. Be willing to evolve with them and they will stay engaged year after year. Now where’s my heating pad….

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