Articles

Lost in Translation (II): Why Boomers and Yers see businesses differently

by Eduardo Estellita on abril 9, 2012

You might have never heard of Carl Icahn but rest assured that he has done more to change the way businesses are seen around the globe than most people you can think of.  Carl Icahn was part of a group of people who in the early 1980s shook the foundations of traditional businesses: they were the corporate raiders.

Until their arrival, the view of the business world (that of Boomers) was quite different from the one we see in the media these days. A company was a group of individuals that shared a common vision for society offering their innovative products and services, most often than not in a family environment. Companies were quoted in the stock market to attract investors and those investors had a quite passive participation in the way businesses were run.

In the 80s, all of that changed! Since many companies were diluting their stocks in the market, corporate raiders saw a unique opportunity to take control of corporations and turn their humble profits into high margin operations.  It was the beginning of the hostile takeovers and from them on, businesses acquired a newfound respect (or fear) of their investors: the “family business” model for indexed corporations was under serious threat. Moreover, with the end of Cold War and new cheap labour found in the Southeast Asia, companies started to restructure and downsize in order to increase their bottom line.

It was precisely at this time that Yers came to the world. Every night at the dinner table they would hear their parent’s stories about restructurings and massive lay-offs. Later at the evening news such stories would be painted with images of distress and rebellion. In school, teachers with little knowledge about the business world would cement negative preconceptions. In late adolescence, Yers would get student jobs that would exploit their cheap labour and provide few learning opportunities. After several years of college education and despite their over qualification, a fourth of those students would struggle to find a first job, blocked in their genuine aspirations by unrealistic demands from recruiters.

If self-fulfilment and self-actualization is the main priority for Yers, it’s only understandable that after such bombardment of information they’d have a hard time conceiving that they could be found in the workplace. Much like Generation X, Yers are indeed extremely skeptical about the business world because, in their eyes, business does not mean a group of people following a vision or a positive contribution to society, but fulfilling financial needs of greedy investors.

The truth is every one of us does not want the workplace to be reduced to this. As humans we all have dreams and hopes and we’d expect that the 8 hours (or more) that we spend everyday at work amounts to something more meaningful. Here are some ways in which HR can contribute so your Yers (or Xer) see the company as a source of fulfilment:

  • Allow only interns for positions that can be filled with jobs with real learning opportunities. We know the temptation for cheap labor is big, but the bad press you’ll get on school campuses is not worth it. Remember that if not your future employees, they’re your future customers.
  • Prepare a solid induction program and make sure new employees have all their work tools from day one. Collect info and fix induction bugs through Astonishment Reports.
  • Encourage helicopter view and meaning through a brief rotational traineeship for newcomers. Not only it builds cohesion and increases cross-fertilization, but the fact of understanding how one’s work impacts a whole organization and the final customer is a great source of meaning.
  • Encourage recruiting from within (that includes interns) and promote horizontal jumps. To most Yers, self-fulfilment comes from trying out different positions before settling for the one they love.
  • Make sure you know everything the internet and employees are saying about your company and don’t make claims about your company culture that don’t match those views while interviewing a candidate. Yers appreciate transparency more than corporate publicity.

How can your HR change the way Yers are viewing your company?

Lost in Translation (II): Why Boomers and Yers see businesses differently

by Eduardo Estellita on abril 9, 2012

You might have never heard of Carl Icahn but rest assured that he has done more to change the way businesses are seen around the globe than most people you can think of.  Carl Icahn was part of a group of people who in the early 1980s shook the foundations of traditional businesses: they were the corporate raiders.

Until their arrival, the view of the business world (that of Boomers) was quite different from the one we see in the media these days. A company was a group of individuals that shared a common vision for society offering their innovative products and services, most often than not in a family environment. Companies were quoted in the stock market to attract investors and those investors had a quite passive participation in the way businesses were run.

In the 80s, all of that changed! Since many companies were diluting their stocks in the market, corporate raiders saw a unique opportunity to take control of corporations and turn their humble profits into high margin operations.  It was the beginning of the hostile takeovers and from them on, businesses acquired a newfound respect (or fear) of their investors: the “family business” model for indexed corporations was under serious threat. Moreover, with the end of Cold War and new cheap labour found in the Southeast Asia, companies started to restructure and downsize in order to increase their bottom line.

It was precisely at this time that Yers came to the world. Every night at the dinner table they would hear their parent’s stories about restructurings and massive lay-offs. Later at the evening news such stories would be painted with images of distress and rebellion. In school, teachers with little knowledge about the business world would cement negative preconceptions. In late adolescence, Yers would get student jobs that would exploit their cheap labour and provide few learning opportunities. After several years of college education and despite their over qualification, a fourth of those students would struggle to find a first job, blocked in their genuine aspirations by unrealistic demands from recruiters.

If self-fulfilment and self-actualization is the main priority for Yers, it’s only understandable that after such bombardment of information they’d have a hard time conceiving that they could be found in the workplace. Much like Generation X, Yers are indeed extremely skeptical about the business world because, in their eyes, business does not mean a group of people following a vision or a positive contribution to society, but fulfilling financial needs of greedy investors.

The truth is every one of us does not want the workplace to be reduced to this. As humans we all have dreams and hopes and we’d expect that the 8 hours (or more) that we spend everyday at work amounts to something more meaningful. Here are some ways in which HR can contribute so your Yers (or Xer) see the company as a source of fulfilment:

  • Allow only interns for positions that can be filled with jobs with real learning opportunities. We know the temptation for cheap labor is big, but the bad press you’ll get on school campuses is not worth it. Remember that if not your future employees, they’re your future customers.
  • Prepare a solid induction program and make sure new employees have all their work tools from day one. Collect info and fix induction bugs through Astonishment Reports.
  • Encourage helicopter view and meaning through a brief rotational traineeship for newcomers. Not only it builds cohesion and increases cross-fertilization, but the fact of understanding how one’s work impacts a whole organization and the final customer is a great source of meaning.
  • Encourage recruiting from within (that includes interns) and promote horizontal jumps. To most Yers, self-fulfilment comes from trying out different positions before settling for the one they love.
  • Make sure you know everything the internet and employees are saying about your company and don’t make claims about your company culture that don’t match those views while interviewing a candidate. Yers appreciate transparency more than corporate publicity.

How can your HR change the way Yers are viewing your company?

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