Career Development: What do Younger Generations Expect?
By Adwoa Buahene Co-founder / Managing Partner, n-gen People Performance Inc. | June 26, 2011
Co-authored by Giselle Kovary, M.A., Co-founder / Managing Partner, n-gen People Performance Inc.
A 17 year old cook working with a 40 year old sous-chef. A 65 year old housekeeping supervisor working with a 22 year old room attendant. A 35 year old front desk manager working with a 50 year old reservation associate. These are all realities within the hotel and hospitality sector, where multigenerational teams need to work effectively together. All four generations are in the workplace (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Ys), and often you may have younger generations managing older employees.
In such a diverse age environment, it is important for executives to realise that people strategies can no longer take a 'one-size fits all' approach. In fact, people strategies now need to be broader in scope and application so that they can tap into the values, behaviours and expectations of all four generations. One area that organizations need to understand and respond to more effectively is career development. The goal of career development in today's workplace is to keep employees longer, and more engaged while they are with your organization, since they won't likely be with you forever.
To achieve the goal of retention, organizations need to develop employees in the career direction of the employee's choice. While this is particularly true of Gen X and Gen Y, it is nonetheless necessary to understand the career development expectations of each generation, and to build mechanisms to either meet those expectations or manage them.
Traditionalists grew up in times that were filled with hardship - wars, depression, hyper-inflation and mass unemployment. Because of these events, they developed values such as honour, sacrifice, respect for authority and dedication. Their goal is to build a legacy which includes their careers. Traditionalists are most accustomed to having organizations tell them what their next career move will be. They would be surprised and maybe even nervous if they are asked to determine their own career goals. However, if the career development discussion is positioned based on their expertise, and how they can continue to build or share that expertise in the final years of their careers, there will be a greater understanding of the need to set career goals.
The Baby Boomer generation is one of the most talked about generations, because its power is felt in all areas of life - politics, economics and business. As activists in the rebellious 60s, they realized they had power in numbers. There are 9.6 million Baby Boomers in Canada, 78 million in the US. These numbers worked for them in protesting social wrongs - marching for equality, multiculturalism and greater diversity tolerance - but worked against them when they entered into the workplace. Traditionalists had the power in organizations. They were happy to replace rebellious Baby Boomer employees with any number of other candidates who would not rile up against authority. As a result, Baby Boomers had to compete and work long hours to climb the corporate ladder. Their goal is to put their stamp on things.