The blog

Avoiding Generational Tussles in the Workplace

As a young person, why shouldn’t you have the expectation of becoming a top leader in an organization, in your community, in politics, or anywhere else you choose? Yet, many older people are skeptical of incoming talent. In preparation for our book Compassionate Careers: Making a Living by Making a Difference, we’ve asked people whether they perceive a “pipeline” of well-qualified leaders to take over as Baby Boomers retire. The older the respondent, the less convinced they are that younger people will be capable of taking the reins. This tension exists in many organizations these days, where stereotyping and mistrust among generations abounds.

At the same time, young people have their own ideas about leadership and how organizations should operate. Increasingly, young people who are seeking compassionate careers place a high value on the strength and integrity of leadership, and having good relationships with their supervisors and teammates—and they want to work for an organization that gives them opportunities for professional growth. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is also something for which they are looking.

A young man in one of our focus groups said, “I literally just had this conversation with my executive director and program director. They’re both over 60. I said, ‘I don’t want your job. Look at you two. You’re totally stressed out.’” Job-sharing, flextime, flattened organizational hierarchies, telecommuting, and time off as part of a competitive compensation package are a few ways to balance this workload.

So two things are at play if we want to refresh cause-focused organizations with the very best of next generation talent. We need to 1) raise the appeal of this type of work, and 2) deliberately invite young people in.

Do you agree that there will NOT be enough talented people to replace Baby Boomers when they retire?

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