Gen X

To Make Gains, You Must Entertain!

January 17 @ 9:31 pm CST

When we are in search of entertainment, much of it is right at our fingertips. Streaming services, on-demand programming, social media, and a laundry list of apps have made it easier than ever to achieve instant gratification in real-time. For many of you (including myself!), this hasn’t always been the case. You may have grown up with black and white television, where programming was limited by today’s standards. I arrived on the scene during the dawn of technicolor TV (MTV, anyone?) and the advent of remote controls and the worldwide web.   We also find ourselves in an era of customization where everything is moving faster and with more efficiency – and we can tailor it all to our liking. Technology has adapted to the changing needs of society to prepare for the future, and your organization isn’t different. Now is the time to plan ahead because a backward focus isn’t an option, we can only move forward.   Long before the pandemic, membership organizations were struggling with planning for the future and finding ways to connect with young professionals. There has been a major shift in the member engagement cycle, and continuing to utilize old membership tactics has triggered membership decline and disengagement.   It’s crucial for leaders like you to better understand the different values, traits, and membership demographics so you can accurately target young professionals and student members.   Membership, much like television, used to be a spectator sport. Historically, people would join organizations…and then sit back and wait for the board to engage them and entertain them. This no longer works. Similar to the changing trends in technology, younger generations of members expect to participate differently as members. They seek interactive experiences and are looking for opportunities to be more involved.  We have to understand that modern skillsets and values differ from those of previous generations. Instead of having one generation dominate your leadership, it’s time to transition to a variety of perspectives and collaborate…

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A Prescription for Your Mission

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January 17 @ 9:31 pm CST

When you’re feeling unhealthy, oftentimes you will seek the advice of a physician or medical professional. You share your symptoms, receive a prognosis, and are given a prescription to remedy what is making you feel ill. This same process can be applied to your organization – and doesn’t require a trip to a doctor’s office!   How do you know if your organization is truly healthy?   To start your organizational health “checkup,” I recommend looking at your membership succession plan. If one doesn’t exist, now is the time to put one in place! An effective membership succession plan and a NextGen membership pipeline are integral to your organization’s survival.   I encourage you to think about where you would like to see your organization in five years (or even ten or twenty!). What services and experiences do you envision providing your members and how will you continue to engage younger generations?   We no longer live in an era where knowledge and wisdom are solely passed down from elders to young people.   Today, our society has more access to education, information, and technology. As a result, every generation now has a wealth of skill sets and experiences to share and absorb with one another. Never before has so much teaching and learning happened simultaneously, and it is important to identify whether that is taking place in your organization or not.  “Aging out” is a common condition that ultimately means younger generations of members are not being engaged and little to no membership succession planning has taken place. I have had firsthand experience with organizations that had to close their doors because they “aged out.” All too often, it is because they were unwilling to let go of traditions or accept and implement new ideas.   If you want a future for your organization, you must engage those who will carry you into the future. Regularly conducting temperature checks to gauge the average age of your members, board members, and overall community within your organization can help you identify how diverse your organization really is. A lack of diversity typically results in…

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image of the generation gap

Why the Generational Topic is More Controversial — and More Relevant — Than Ever

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January 17 @ 9:31 pm CST

By Sarah Sladek  There’s been considerable debate on the topic of generations. In 2019, the ‘OK, Boomer’ campaign reached a fever pitch globally. The phenomenon started when an unidentified Boomer man posted a rant on TikTok against young people. Thousands of teens and 20-somethings on TikTok responded, posting videos and memes and even creating ‘Ok, Boomer’ merchandise. The campaign has been referred to as a “mass retaliation” by Gen Z to the political, economic, and environmental choices made by decision-makers which have negatively impacted this generation’s quality of life. On the other end of the spectrum, a guest author said in an Association Chat interview last month that a person’s generation “has no relevance” to how a person behaves or what influences them. He goes so far as to say the concept of generational data-mining is “broken” and “nuts”. It’s ironic, isn’t it? Gen Zs worldwide organized a campaign as a direct result of their shared, negative political, economic, and environmental experiences at the same time an author proclaims there is no relevance to shared generational experiences. What can we learn from these conflicting views? There are beneficial insights to glean from each. In his Association Chat interview, the author urged us to consider the values that drive behavior and to avoid making stereotypes, and I wholeheartedly agree. I don’t agree with his dismissal of generational research, but I do agree organizations need to avoid jumping to conclusions and making broad generalizations. Not every Millennial likes avocado toast, and it’s never a good idea to shift your entire marketing budget to Snapchat simply because you assume that’s where young people find their information and want to hear from your organization. Doing the research, seeking to really understand your audience and the unique drivers and values that exist within your organization is absolutely imperative. And as in-your-face the Ok Boomer campaign might be, it’s important we look beyond the sarcasm to the cause driving the campaign. It’s…

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Knowing your people

The Importance of Knowing Your People

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January 17 @ 9:31 pm CST

Last week, I had an opportunity to speak to a great group of folks from the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations about generational differences in the workforce. One of my favorite parts of that experience was when we broke into groups based on our generation and answered a few questions about what we valued. Oh, I should probably mention that I’m a Gen Xer. What does that have to do with anything? A lot, apparently. Last week, I had an opportunity to speak to a great group of folks from the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations about generational differences in the workforce. One of my favorite parts of that experience was when we broke into groups based on our generation and answered a few questions about what we valued. I do this exercise regularly in my presentations and one thing is always the same: generations value different things. However, on this day I heard something new from the Gen Xers. In response to more than one question, they brought up concerns about their health. I noticed, but I didn’t think much of it until later when I was putting my heating pad under my neck. The generation of people born between the years 1965-1981 are starting to experience the effects of aging and it is changing what they value. This is incredibly important for workforce leadership to pay attention to if they want to retain a multi-generational workforce. The 21st-century workforce is nuanced. To be successful, an organization must pay attention to the individual needs of its people. The tricky part that my recent experience with the AOPO illustrates is that needs and values evolve. So what to do? Pay attention. Keep asking questions. Keep learning about your people. Be willing to evolve with them and they will stay engaged year after year. Now, where’s my heating pad…   If your organization is struggling, now is the time for action. Register for our newly developed courses specifically…

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being future focused

Being Future-Focused: Generational consideration with every foundational change

January 17 @ 9:31 pm CST

National Watermelon Association – Save the Associations Vol. 7 The National Watermelon Association is the oldest single fruit commodity association in the U.S., and for nearly a century it was run solely by volunteers. In 2005, the association realized that to overcome stagnant membership and the impending workforce crisis, it had to bring in professional staff. That year, Bob Morrissey joined as Executive Director and has not only created new programs for the younger generations, but he has been considering those generations with every foundational change that has been made. Future Watermelon Farm Leaders “I started by reading as much on Gen X and Gen Y as possible,” shared Morrissey. He first read Sarah Sladek’s book titled The End of Membership As We Know It. “The topic launched us to focus on the near future, and how we could transform an association with four generations involved into something renewed that would be viable, sustainable, and growing into the next couple of decades,” stated Morrissey. He didn’t want to be too aggressive as he didn’t want to scare people off, but he also knew the association needed to evolve fairly quickly. One result of this effort was the creation of the Future Watermelon Farm Leaders  (FWFL) program. This young professional program is focused on giving members the opportunities they crave to further their careers and their industry. These future leaders speak and work at the national convention, take part in the association’s varied committees, and network with industry professionals. “They are the future and they are engaged,” said Morrissey. The program has been well received, which is why it is about to enter into a new phase. Recognizing farming’s crucial role in feeding the world, Morrissey shared that “with the average age of farmers today [being] over 58 years old, it is vital for us to embrace the younger generations to continue that respected trade and to lead our association.” In the new version of the FWFL,…

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companies

At Risk Of Aging Out: The Oldest Fortune 500 Companies And Industries

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January 17 @ 9:31 pm CST

A recent report by RetirementJobs.com ranked Fortune 500 employers by the percentage of workers they have over age 50. RetirementJobs.com gathered data from public records and surveys of employers and employees, to illustrate for job seekers which industries tend to employ a disproportionately high or low percentage of mature workers. The results show that the airline industry employs the most workers over age 50, and that American Airlines was first in the nation, with nearly 40% of its workforce over age 50.  Toward the other end of the scale is Google with just 12% of workers over 50. The top Fortune 500 industries for the number of workers over 50 are: Airlines Utilities Insurance Retail Chemicals Aerospace & Defense Packaging & Containers Forest & Paper Products Food Production Beverages The Top 10 Fortune 500 Employers With Older Workers: American Airlines 39% Eastman Kodak  38% TravelCenters of America 38% Delta Air Lines 37% United Air Lines 37% Weyerhaeuser 36% Edison International  36% Northeast Utilities 36% United Services Automobile Assn. 35% KeyCorp 35% The Bottom 10 Fortune 500 Employers For Older Workers: Consol Energy 14% Nordstrom 14% Chesapeake Energy 14% Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold 14% Electronic Arts 13% Google, Inc. 12% C.H. Robinson Worldwide 12% Goldman Sachs Group 11% Auto-Owners Insurance 9% AECOM Technology 6% If your organization is struggling, now is the time for action. Register for our newly developed courses specifically designed to help membership organizations more effectively engage and retain members. 

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Workforce

Recognizing Generation Stereotypes In The Workplace

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January 17 @ 9:31 pm CST

Ever have one of those moments when you realize it’s a generational difference that’s causing you frustration? I had one recently with my mother-in-law. I could barely sit through the story she told me about how she repeatedly scours the stores looking for a specific fondue pot she broke years ago. “Why not just order it on Amazon?” I asked her, flabbergasted. Well, she hadn’t thought of it. After our conversation, she ordered it on Amazon. That also surprised me because I thought she was afraid of online shopping. With more than three generations working together, misunderstandings based on stereotypes happen all the time in the workplace. Getting past stereotypes is the first step in being part of and creating excellent teams. It’s tempting to say that stereotypes exist for a reason, and use that as general proof they are true. Of course, there is a reason, but that doesn’t make them true, and it doesn’t excuse you from getting past them. If you’re buying into stereotypes, you’re limiting contributions by others and missing opportunities yourself. Let’s take another approach. Gen Y: Entitled & lazy While many may see the shirking of “busy work” as lazy or entitled to better things, could actually be a desire not to waste time. Leverage their skills and motivate seemingly entitled and lazy team members. When assigning Millennials work it will help if you: Explain why it’s important, not just that they need to do it Show them the bigger picture Give them regular feedback Offer challenging work, don’t let them get bored Gen X: Cynical & poor team members Don’t count Gen X out for group activities just because you’ve heard they are cynical loners at work. When given the right motivations, Xers are great team players. You’ll encourage teamwork if you: Give them choices, let them use their resourcefulness Give them goals and let them figure out how to reach them Provide mentorship Avoid micromanaging Boomers: Out of touch & disinterested in learning new things After years of being called on by parents and…

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Sarah Sladek Speaking

Stories From a Gen X Outlier: Why I Join

January 17 @ 9:31 pm CST

Sarah Sladek‘s presentation to my employer, a professional society of dentists, on the demographic challenges facing associations was fascinating, not just because it rang true to my organization, but also because it confirmed that I was a Gen X outlier. As a ’66 baby, I’m on the cusp of generations, so perhaps that is an explanation for my “joining,” more attuned to a Boomer than my own generation. My beautiful bride, three years my junior and also a Xer likes to explain that I don’t know the meaning, nor have the ability to say “no.” I certainly have an affinity for wanting to help people, which explains partially how I wound up in association work. But it’s deeper than that I think. My first “join” was U.S. Army after high school. Does that count? An assortment of student organizations in college and law school soon followed. A career joiner As I got into my association management career, the real joining started. First and foremost is the American Legion, the largest veterans group in the nation. To be completely forthright, my membership was not entirely for altruistic means. Coming off an unsuccessful run for public office, I thought expanding my personal and professional network as well as associating with a respected organization would facilitate my efforts at the next political campaign. Which by the way, still hasn’t come about. A funny thing happened though with my being involved in the Legion. The wise, mostly WWII  vets, did something significant. They made me post Vice-Commander, and then Commander. And the more involved I became, the more I enjoyed what I was doing: helping out not just my fellow vets, but also significantly contributing to my community. And then I was asked to join the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Then the Knights of Columbus. Then the Catholic Order of Foresters. Then three church groups. Then Boards of Zoning Appeals in three different towns and a Plan Commission in one of them. Then…

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