Feature Article - April 2003
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Staff Strategies

How to hire, manage and keep great employees despite the generation gaps

By Margaret Ahrweiler

Keeping them

Of course, hiring is only the first hurdle in the human-resources obstacle course. The next phase, retaining employees, should begin before their first day, says JCC's Shenker.

People on a job for six months or less are 10 times more likely to quit than people working six months or longer, he notes. The best way to keep good employees is by providing clear expectations about their jobs. This includes orientation and training programs, which employers should create whether they hire five or 500 employees each year, he says. Orientations should cover oft-neglected basics, such as where to park, the location of bathrooms, and the purpose of both the job and the company. And these basics should get to the employee before they start.

Next, employees, both young and old, need a reason to stay in their job, Shenker adds, and this doesn't mean a good paycheck. In one survey, he notes, compensation ranked 11 on a list of the 10 reasons employees stay in a job. Their reasons for staying may include the chance to learn and grow, to forge strong social ties, and to feel they're making a difference.

Who Are All These Generations Working Together? And How Do They Work?

The Matures (also know as the Traditionals): Born between 1900 and 1945, they comprise about 75 million of the population. They work hard with a top-down need-to-know strategy like the military and demand a certain amount of respect based on their age and experience.

The Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964, the Me generation is 80 million strong. They still value independence, are not great joiners and feel they're owed a lot. They created the latch-key kid and changed the way the country views recreation.

Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1980, with about 46 million, they are self-reliant, look for balance in life and feel cynical about loyalty to employers.

The Millennials: Born between 1981 and 1999, all 76 million of them, they possess more technology skills than any other group and know how to play every angle to avoid consequences. They also know how to work an MP3 but not a rotary phone.

For more interesting reading on the Millennials and other generational issues, check out the Web site for the Center for Generational Studies, www.gentrends.com.