Emotional Intelligence and Millennials – Bridging the Generation Gap and Keeping People Engaged
July 14, 2016
As baby boomers become eligible for retirement and exit the workforce, employers grapple with how to hire, train and engage enough workers to fill the void. Vast amounts of organizational knowledge must be transferred. Companies face large numbers of new hires who will view the organization much differently than the employees who are leaving. Commitment and retention will be a challenge because these new hires will have little invested in a company that will cause them to stay. If the company doesn’t meet the new hire’s expectations, that new hire will leave – causing an endless cycle and gap in the skills and abilities needed for the company to compete. The pain is real.
Mix the hiring, on-boarding and training demands with career life cycle differences between baby boomers, Gen X and millennials as well as some long held beliefs that define the boomer generation, Gen X and the millennial generation and clashes are bound to occur. Now, the organization is challenged with, not only keeping the pipeline of talent flowing, but managing the perceived generational differences that follow.
However, a significant portion of what is being attributed to generational differences is more closely aligned with career life cycle differences. These differences are related to time in place related to career, rather than generation. People’s perspectives on the workplace differ depending on whether they are near the beginning, middle or near the end of the career life cycle. They have different expectations, different needs, different desires and different values. So, many of these differences attributed to generations are really not differences at all. In fact, each generation experiences these changes as their career life cycle matures. Also, sameness, rather than differences prevail around issues of engagement. Age is not the dominate differentiating factor regarding engagement. The factor most influenced by age was career development. Again, highlighting the fact that career life cycle issues, rather than generational issues, anchor the differences.
But surely some of these differences are attributed to generations, right? Right. Because of the growing age bubble of workers at the end of their career life cycle, knowledge and values transfer and succession planning are real and organizations face critical challenges in these areas. Keeping the organization competitive requires companies to acknowledge and pass on the critical values that define their competitive advantage. However, too often, these critical values lessons are thrown in the face of the young generation as “work ethic.” When veiled as “work ethics” these values become an exaggerated difference cloaked in generational resentment rather than critical competitive secrets and the key to career advancement. Younger workers readily admit knowledge gaps on technical issues. However, when the conversation turns to work ethics, war is declared and the wall of generational difference is constructed.
Organizations must look to two fundamental drivers if they are to ease the transition occurring as a result of workplace demographics – both of which require emotional intelligence at the foundation. Why? Emotional intelligence is the soup in which the transfer of knowledge and corporate values takes place. It is the context in which all relationships exist. By nature of the problem, emotional intelligence is a critical tool to its success.
To obtain our whitepaper that outlines 8 Strategic and Tactical Steps to Bridging the Generational Divide, please Contact Us.