Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2012

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/91258

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Page 30 of 79

We Mean Business Across the Generations How baby boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials are changing the modern workplace By Kimberley Olson I n today's workplace, texting Mil- lennials in jeans work alongside baby boomers, who entered the workforce wearing suits long before the Inter- net was in common use. Sandwiched in between are Gen Xers, who have their own unique history and a decidedly entrepreneurial spirit. Tere's been plenty of buzz about gen- eration gaps in the workplace, but what's really happening behind the scenes? And how are companies keeping smart, skilled employees—of ev- ery age and life stage— happy and productive? Savvy companies are finding that generational diversity brings a spe- cial richness to the workplace, and they're actively fostering re- lationships between employees of dif- ferent ages. Te rewards can be great for the bot- tom line, and along the way, empl o y e es , young and old- er, are discover- ing—surprise, surpr ise—that they have plenty of common ground. Embracing All Ages Although the unemploy- ment rate has dropped only slightly in the past year, a re- cent survey by Manpower- Group revealed that more www.diversitywoman.com Take the Lead and more companies are struggling to find highly skilled, educated, and expe- rienced employees. Fifty-two percent of U.S. employers are having trouble filling "mission-critical" positions, up from 14 percent in 2010. As they recruit, many companies are seeking a diverse workforce—including employees of various ages, who have different per- spectives—to give them a competitive edge, today and into the future. > "Companies are realizing the value of each age group," says Samantha Green- field, an employer engagement special- ist at the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. "Te older employee might have more loyalty to the company and might be more mature in handling office politics and social situations. Te younger employee might bring more [knowledge of] technology to the picture, because she grew up with it. So a lot of com- panies are taking the strengths of the dif- ferent generations and getting employees to work in groups to share those skills." A recent study of nearly 600 companies showed that most had a preference for at least some older workers. Older employ- ees are perceived as reliable, skilled, hard- working, and networked—and the research bears that out. Meanwhile, younger work- ers bring to the workplace not only tech savvy, but con- fidence, optimism, and a global outlook. As a result, many companies are trying to build collaborative relationships across the generations. Te Hartford, in Connecticut, has a reverse mentoring pro- gram. "Executives are paired up with younger employees, and the younger employees are teaching the ex- ecutives how to use their new iPhones," Greenfield says. "And executives help the younger employees learn how to network. It's been very successful." Credit Suisse launched a similar program. One Credit Suisse executive invited his young mentor and a few of his mentor's friends to lunch to gain insight into how the younger generation thinks. Fall 2012 DIVERSITY WOMAN 29 THINKSTOCKPHOTOS

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