Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference speaker Bruce Tulgan, founder and chairman of RainmakerThinking, has been tracking and researching generational shift in more than 400 organizations for about a quarter-century.
The grown-ups are leaving,” said Tulgan. “They’re taking with them collective skills, knowledge, institutional memory, and the last vestiges of the work ethic.”
Tulgan says one of the primary disconnects is among baby boomers, who are accustomed to putting in their time and working their way up the ladder; Generation X’ers, who are entrepreneurial and used to going it alone; and millennials, stereotyped as being “entitled” and needing constant reinforcement and rewards.
But Tulgan flips that perception: The fact is, older workers are becoming more like millennials in their attitudes toward their work life and advancements—thinking more like free agents, for instance. And millennials don’t have greater wants and needs, they have greater expectations—of themselves as well as of others. They want to hit the ground running, start making changes, and start making a difference. They’ll be your best and hardest workers, Tulgan says, but there are two catches: They won’t work for vague promises of long-term rewards, and they want someone to be keeping score.
Beat the “development investment paradox.”
Unbundle complex roles and tasks, and feed in training gradually, one task and responsibility at a time, as rewards. Naturally, basic skills to do the job will have to be taught—but “broad, transferable skills should be a reward that you help people earn.”
Cultivate flexible retention to retain the advantages of older employees.
Save perks like flexible scheduling for older and experienced employees to evade the development investment paradox. Superstars get to earn more flexibility.
Concentrate not just on knowledge transfer but on wisdom transfer.
Turn wisdom into a tangible asset that the organization controls by offering opportunities for older employees to become mentors and consultants.
Be selective in hiring (even when you’re in a scarcity environment).
One very good person is worth more to the business than two or three mediocre people. The key is avoiding an environment where “low performers hide out and high performers leave.”
Create a work culture by design, not by default.
Value high performance, and bring in human resources as a strategic partner to ensure the culture is expressed in every aspect of the workplace. The culture will then drive recruitment and retention.
Try boot-camp onboarding.
Use onboarding to connect people to mission, teach them the organization’s values, and create a bonding experience that makes them part of an elite crew.
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