Saturday, February 5, 2011

Current Trends, Job Security, Net Generation, 40+ Workforce

The Net Generation is the largest cohort in the workforce today.  “The work habits, learning styles, and collaboration skills of this group are already having a profound influence on organizations and that will only grow greater” (Galagan, 2010, p. 47).  Additionally, “New organizational entrants into the workplace of the knowledge economy have significantly different attitudes, abilities, and demands when compared to those of earlier entrants into the workplace of the industrial economy in terms of their desired relationship with and within organizations” (Novicevic & Buckley, 2001, p. 125).
Due to forces such as globalization, corporate downsizing, mergers & acquisitions, right-sizing, restructuring, deregulation, and the infusion of IT, the implicit social contract between an employee and the company has been irrevocably broken (Novicevic & Buckley, 2001).  Hence, the death of job security as we know it.
Novicevic and Buckley (2001) pointed out that “the 20+ generation members prefer to act on opportunities that are available ‘now and here’ and use that learning experience to exploit new opportunities” (p. 129).  Novicevic and Buckley further expand on the 20+ generation by identifying them as wanting “to be successful without having to ‘pay their dues’ in the traditional sense of corporate career development.  Furthermore, they demand that companies design the workplace of ‘cool’ corporate culture, where work is not mere completion of tasks but more a fun game that pays well…. corporate cultures are stretched to accommodate this new 20+ cohort, unlike the treatment given to those 40+ members, who entered the organization 25 years earlier” (p. 131).
This puts the strain on management and on corporations to balance this new workforce while maintaining their existing workforce.  Managers must be able to, as identified by Novicevic and Bucklys’ article (2010), “bring together this ‘cool’ subculture with the ‘plain’ subculture of the 40+ cohort in order to ensure that both subcultures’ cognitive resources are used to leverage and create organizational social and intellectual capital” (p. 132).
Recent surveys indicated that only “37 percent of employers had strategies to encourage late-career workers to stay past retirement” (Galagan, 2010, p. 47).  This is in contrast to the 44% of baby boomers who “say they plan to postpone retirement” (p. 47).  From these numbers, it looks like corporations are more focused on catering to the 20+generation, as opposed to finding a balance to meet the needs of the multiple generations that they employ.
Sources claim that by “2014, potentially half the workforce will be from Millennials” (Bingham & Conner, 2010, p. 14).  Additionally, soon the Generation Z will begin entering into the workforce with differing demands that will conflict with the demand of the Millennials (or Net Generation).  How do you provide a balance between the upcoming Generation Z (birth date after 1997), the Net Generation (Millennials) or Generation Y (1981-1997), the Generation X (1965-1980), and the Baby-Boomers (1946-1964)?

Bingham, T. & Conner, M. (2010).  The new social learning: A guide to transforming organizations through social media.  San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
Galagan, P. (2010).  Bridging the skills gap: New factors compound the growing skills shortage.  Training + Development, February, pp. 44-49.
Novicevic, M. M., & Buckley, M. R. (2001).  How to manage the emerging generational divide in the contemporary knowledge-rich workplace.  Performance Improvement Quarterly, 14 (2), pp. 125-144.
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