Getting to your finish line
There is a lot of noise when it comes to tracks. I am not referring to race tracks — although Virginia has its share of those — or train tracks. I am talking about the topic of career tracks and where they’ll ultimately take the Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Generation Y, otherwise known as the Millennials.
You may have noticed lately that the spotlight in the workplace, the media and online seems to be on the Millennials, and understandably so. They are the up-and-coming generation in the workforce, and there are a lot of them. I have heard discussions and seen many an article about how to attract, hire and work with Millennials, and about what to do so that all of the generations in the workplace can get along.
Although I am all for succession planning and grooming employees to climb up the corporate ladder, there are many Boomers who will be working (and living) longer. Many of them have the time and energy — and, in many cases, the right attitude and skills, too — to make it to the same finish line as what a Millennial may be expected to achieve (although the number of years a Boomer may work are going to be different than those for a Millennial).
I suggest that employers determine how to provide a variety of career tracks that meet the needs of employees based on their “career life-cycle stages.” That includes emerging, starting to climb, arrived, maintaining or transitioning, which could mean a new or different career path or part-time work. Employers should also focus on one’s skill sets and ability to contribute to the organization’s goals instead of making assumptions about an employee or prospective employee based on the generation to which they may belong. Employees move through stages at different times, and the sequence of stages may not always be the same order for everyone (e.g. a woman marries young, has children and then goes back to school and/or work).
From what I have heard over the years, there are fewer members of Generation X in the workforce than Boomers or Millennials. And, not all Xs and Millennials want to climb the corporate ladder or become a partner or business owner, either (think work-life balance).
In the last 10 years since dedicating myself to working as an independent recruiter — and being a Baby Boomer myself — I have spoken to, met and viewed resumes of many Boomers who have risen and want to continue to rise to the top. Yet some organizations have mandatory retirement policies, or may downsize folks if their salaries reach a point whereby less expensive labor may be available.
I am not recommending which generation should be considered for which job, since a lot depends on the job, the duties and each employee’s physical and technical abilities. And it is quite possible that if someone needs to work or wishes to work, they may be very willing to take a different role within your company and make less money rather than having no role at all, especially if one lives in an area where there may be less job opportunities. Again, you can’t assume what another is seeking without asking.
Before you set up your tracks, you may want to make sure you have clearly written job descriptions, duties, tasks and educational and skill requirements and salary ranges. You may also wish to consult with an employment professional (legal or human resources) to ensure you go about laying down the foundation for your tracks in a way that supports your needs and strategic goals while complying with employment related laws.
You also will likely need to take a look at how you and your hiring staff vet prospective employees, including your interview questions and processes. Don’t forget to consider your existing staff (or someone who already may have left) when a position opens up since you may find that an existing employee would rather take that position, than possibly lose their job.
Most likely, your organization still will have many generations working together in the years to come. Hopefully every worker will be happy with the track they are on, allowing them to cross the finish line as a winner — and adding to their employer’s bottom line, too!
Beth A. Berk, CPA, CGMA works as an Independent Recruiter, providing services to organizations in the metropolitan DC and Baltimore areas as well as employers within other regions in Maryland and Virginia. She can be reached at [email protected] or at (301) 767-0670.