Embracing Our next diversity

I don’t feel old. Though I admit there are aspects of our popular culture that I find bewildering (e.g. $5 lattés with frilly foam designs, that thing with the pants hanging off the butts, and every texting abbreviation besides “LOL” … not sure why, but that one always makes me laugh).

I also don’t feel obsolete. This could be because I’m suffering from an acute lack of information. But a more optimistic view of my self-proclaimed relevance could be the role I’m playing in today’s labor force. Allow me to elaborate …

For the first time in our nation’s history, four generations of workers are pursuing careers in our labor force. There are the Traditionalists, born 1922 to 1945, who epitomize the “cradle to grave” employment philosophy and consider themselves “The Greatest Generation.”  Then, on the heels of World War II, came the Baby Boomers, born 1946 to 1964. Boomers ushered women and minorities, en masse, into the workforce. Born between 1965 and 1980, we have Generation X (or Gen X’ers). This segment of the labor force made job hopping a winning strategy for advancing one’s career. And that brings us to Generation Y or Millennials as they are often called. Born between 1981 and 1990, these young laborers strive to maintain a work/life balance that workaholic Boomers dare not fathom.

Each generation brings a unique set of attributes to the workplace that, properly interwoven, can create a focused, exuberant, high performing work group. Today’s leaders face the challenge of weaving this multi-generational tapestry. You see, it’s all about keeping a diverse set of folks engaged. Engagement equals performance, and performance equals results.

I remember the first time I saw a young, talented manager sitting in a meeting just texting away on her Blackberry. I recall an almost overwhelming temptation to snatch the device away and growl “Pay attention!” It’s been awhile since that meeting (hence the Blackberry reference) and I’ve learned a lot. One of the biggest lessons I keep with me is this … That young Gen X’er was, in all probability, connecting with her team to solve a problem we had just identified during the meeting. Meanwhile, I was sitting there simultaneously being self-righteous and out-performed.

So, what’s my role in today’s labor force? To tell stories like this one. To help us embrace our next diversity.

PayReel’s clients, who are some of the biggest companies in the world, are constantly immersed in the chaos of producing multimedia content or executing live events. PayReel makes sure they have the right contractors at the right time in the right place, and that everyone gets paid properly. And, most importantly, they handle every last detail perfectly while making sure their clients think nothing of it. Relax. We got it.

Super-star Wars: holding on to your heroes

The Great Recession has certainly pushed the battle for workforce talent off the front pages … at least temporarily. But surely we haven’t forgotten that the population of the U.S. is still aging. Fortune 500 companies expect to lose 50% of their senior management within the coming decade. And the pipeline of college graduates with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degrees is still far short of projected demand.

Recent political advertising notwithstanding, the economy is continuing its snail’s-pace recovery. As the economy, and hopefully hiring, picks up steam your organization’s heroes will become prime targets for would-be suitors. Consider the findings from a study sponsored by eePulse.com. The following workers are most likely to leave you:

  • Employees between the ages of 41 and 45
  • IT and Marketing staff
  • Directors, Managers, and Supervisors
  • Employees at firms whose overall performance is average or below relative to industry peers

Any of these apply to your workforce?

During the darkest days of the recession, we all had a small group of employees who thrived on change, who embraced the chaos, who multi-tasked and never lost their focus on client needs. These are our heroes. If today these heroes are feeling under-valued, they are almost certainly looking for their next job or they’re openly receptive to overtures from other firms.

If you believe it’s easier to search out, recruit, and train new heroes you can stop reading here and enjoy the rest of your day. If, however, you’re wondering about the most efficient ways to retain top talent I suggest you:

  • Build a list of your heroes. Sounds obvious, but can you easily lay your hands on such a list?  These are the people with the best opportunity to bolt. You should be able to shine a light on them.
  • Make your heroes aware of their status and future with your company. Even if it’s non-monetary, give them some formal recognition of their contributions and their prospects.
  • Recognize and reward exceptional performance. I’m talking game changing, standard setting performances here.

Whether recognition comes in the form of monetary gifts or company-wide recognition, your top performers are more likely to stay put when their hard work gets noticed and appreciated.

PayReel’s clients, who are some of the biggest companies in the world, are constantly immersed in the chaos of producing multimedia content or executing live events. PayReel makes sure they have the right contractors at the right time in the right place, and that everyone gets paid properly. And, most importantly, they handle every last detail perfectly while making sure their clients think nothing of it. Relax. We got it.