Why the Generational Topic is More Controversial — and More Relevant — Than Ever
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…Read More
Being Future-Focused: Generational consideration with every foundational change
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,…Read More
Which Generation Works The Hardest?
Last week I spoke at a corporate event where younger generations were getting a tongue-lashing from their Baby Boomer counterparts. The Boomers were scolding Generation Y for needing constant feedback, being unable to prioritize, and wanting to have (gasp!) fun at work. Indeed, there’s a stereotype in many offices that younger employees–especially those born since the mid ’80s–are less responsible and unreliable. It’s history repeating itself. Remember when Generation X entered the workforce? They were labeled as ‘slackers’ because they wanted flex-time. And both the Xers and Ys will gladly sling mud at the Boomers, referring to them as ‘workaholics’ and ‘fuddy-duddies’. There’s more than name-calling at work here. What these negative stereotypes really stem from are differences in productivity. For a generation that followed the Industrial Revolution and was raised to value hard work, the perceived lack of Generation X and Y’s productivity drives the Boomers absolutely nuts. In fact, 68% of Boomers feel “younger people” do not have as strong a work ethic as they do and that makes doing their own work harder. I don’t think the Boomers are doing the lion’s share of the work while Xers slack off and Ys seek pats on the back. Rather, productivity resembles something different for each generation. This blog was written to help organizations better understand why they are challenged with differing generational demographics. Our studies show that the significant disruptions and societal shifts of the past 20+ years have influenced younger members behaviors. This has affected the reasons why joining and engaging with your organization is different today. The research findings do not apply to every single member of each generation. However, our 20 years of ongoing research findings continue to hold true – making the information valuable when drafting membership engagement and growth strategies to target younger members. Boomers (1946-1964) Productivity = DedicationBoomers tend to lean toward vision and values. They like inspiring mission statements, setting goals, fixing problems, and measure success in terms of…Read More
At Risk Of Aging Out: The Oldest Fortune 500 Companies And Industries
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.Read More