Department of Labor Offers Financial Education to Gen Y and Gen X

Generation Y is not known for frugality. Savings is not something the Millennial Generation does very well at all, in fact.  Similarly, women are notoriously behind their male counterparts when it comes to saving for retirement.  The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), has begun an initiative targeted to both issues.   image

Wi$e Up is a financial education demonstration project targeted to Generation X and Y women.  The DOL’s Women’s Bureau heads the project, which pairs participants with mentors, who are recruited by local organizations.  There are several components to the program, including classroom portions, online teleconferences with feature speakers, and other interactive experiences designed to get women in this particular age group up to speed when it comes to understanding the importance of personal fiscal health and how to achieve it.

The Wi$e Up website offers lots of helpful tools and resources, as well as its monthly e-newsletter, which focuses directly on the financial issues facing Gen X and Gen Y women.  Also available on the website is a Financial Planning Handbook for Generation X Women.   The Handbook is 91 pages long and retails for just $15 ($9 is you purchase 10 or more).  The Handbook is described as:

Most women want to be more “money savvy” and feel they need to learn more about how to manage their money wisely. This publication is especially targeted to young women age 22 to 35. It will guide you in learning about the basics of money management, credit, savings, investments and achieving financial security.

Wi$e Up is an excellent resource to help guide women in the Gen X & Y age groups to navigate an important area of knowledge that historically has presented steep challenges to women and, more recently, to Generation Y.

Succession Planning and the Particular Needs of Gen Y Employees

Smart employers have begun internal campaigns to prevent what could be a potentially crippling brain drain as the Baby Boomers, the largest generation in history, nears retirement.  As many as 40% of the current workforce is expected to be eligible for retirement age by 2010.  With a mass exodus of key employees on the horizons, employers look for ways to transfer knowledge to the next generation workforce.  But, in light of the many particular characteristics of Generation Y (or “Millennials”), this effort is not necessarily one with an obvious plan of attack.    

Gen Y logo

Gen Y demands that communications be transmitted in a format that they’re used to, which almost always means the involvement of real-time technology.  For many employers, this demand is light years beyond the bulletin-board and newsletter-style communications they’ve employed for years.  So what’s an employer to do if it’s not current with the cutting-edge technology attractive to Gen Y? 

Implement a formal leadership program.  Gen Y will not have had the experience necessary to successfully take control as managers.  Unless there is a formal program in place to teach Millennials what makes a good leader and communicates the expectations of the organization with regard to have leaders should behave and treat others, we cannot expect them to simply “figure it out.” 

Teach employees how to communicate with other generations.  Baby Boomers and Traditionalists hold the key to your organization’s future success.  Now you have to get them to share it.  And, even if they’re willing to do so, they may not know how.  Intra-generational communication is notoriously weak.  The generations simply don’t speak the other generations’ language.  Providing training to employees on how to communicate is essential if you want the older generations to share their knowledge and for the younger generations to receive and understand it. 

For more about Gen Y in the workplace, see:

HR Glossary: Generations at Work
Why Recruiters Need to Understand the Helicopter Parent
How to Use Reverse Mentoring as a Retention Tool for Gen Y Employees
Gen Y Demands Employers Open the Checkbook for Technology Requests
The Connection Between Training and Employee Retention, According to Gen Y
What Makes a Good Leader? If You Lead Gen Y’s, You’d Better Find Out.
Knock It Off, Gen Y: 3 Ways You’re Driving Your Boss Crazy

HR Glossary: Generations at Work

Human Resource professionals must be familiar with a vast vocabulary, spanning from the legal world to psychology and sociology terms.  At a professional organization meeting I attended this morning, I had the pleasure of listening to an organizational consultant speak about employee retention and engagement–a very important topic in my world.  Her presentation was filled with a variety of factoids of which I hadn’t been aware.  One little tiny piece of constructive feedback I have, though, is that she got the Generations wrong.   generations

During her talk, she referenced the challenges presented to employers by Generation Y employees.  But what she meant was Generation X and Generation Y.  She stated that Gen Y includes employees just entering the workforce (i.e., 18 years old), through individuals aged 31.  This is not quite accurate.  Here’s what she probably meant to say:

Traditionalists are actually two generations (“Matures” and “Silents”) who share similar values and behaviors who were born between the start of the 20th century and the end of World War II (1900-1945).  This generation is characterized by rigidity, privacy, and loyalty.

Baby Boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964 during the Post-World War II baby boom,  the largest generation ever born in the U.S.  This generation is known for its love affair with rock ‘n roll, Woodstock, and its experiences with the civil rights movement and Watergate.

Generation X includes individuals born between 1965 and 1980 grew up with celebrity figures that included Madonna, Oprah, and Michael Eisner.  Because the Baby Boomer parents of Gen X included working mothers, Gen X was left to fend for itself and the concept of the latchkey kid became prevalent. As a result, this generation is particularly independent and resilient.

Generation Y (also known as “Millennials”) represent the youngest workers in today’s workplace, being born between 1981 and 1999.  Raised by Baby Boomers, who coddled and protected in a way that they’d not been cared for by their own parents, Gen Y believes that it really can do anything and, as a result, tends to see very low penalty associated with frequent job changes and even career changes.  Gen Y engages in “real-time learning” as a result of constant digital access to resources such as YouTube and Google.  One defining feature of this generation is their general lack of awareness of the concept of a chain of command–something that can put a Baby Boomer or Traditionalist into a tailspin. 

For other posts on Generational Issues in the Workplace, see:

Why Recruiters Need to Understand the Helicopter Parent
How to Use Reverse Mentoring as a Retention Tool for Gen Y Employees
Gen Y Demands Employers Open the Checkbook for Technology Requests
The Connection Between Training and Employee Retention, According to Gen Y
What Makes a Good Leader? If You Lead Gen Y’s, You’d Better Find Out.
Knock It Off, Gen Y: 3 Ways You’re Driving Your Boss Crazy

How to Use Reverse Mentoring as a Retention Tool for Gen Y Employees

Generational differences have transformed the concept of workplace management.  Ground rules that once seemed obvious and implied to many of today’s managers have been flipped upside down.  And, often, there seems to be no common ground to be found among a workforce that now spans across four generations.  There is much to understand about each of the generations’ perspectives, values, and priorities, and the differences among them.  Armed with an improved knowledge of the motivators and disincentives that drive its employees, an organization is more likely to develop the recruitment and retention strategies that others only dream about.  This post is not about any of that.  image

This post does not discuss the differences between the Baby Boomers and Matures as compared to Gen X and Millennials.  But not because there is no value in that knowledge–there undoubtedly is.  If you understand the “why,” it is infinitely easier to understand the “how,” (as in how to respond/react/prevent, etc.)  Putting aside the value in being well versed in these sociological and psychological concepts, there is a way to press “fast forward” and jump straight to the playbook.  In other words, there are a number of programs and policies that employers can implement that will silently effectuate improved relationships between generations–without the employer even having known about it in the first place.  Although there are several such programs that come to mind, I will limit this post to just one–reverse mentoring.

What Is Reverse Mentoring?

Reverse mentoring is a type of workplace-mentor relationship.  The mentor in a reverse-mentor relationship is younger than his or her mentee with substantially less seniority in the organization.  Conversely, the mentee is the older of the two and is well-established in his or her position within the company.  Reverse mentoring works in all industries but may demonstrate the most effective results in professional fields where technology is an integral part of the work environment but is not the central focus of the work.  This environment is conducive to knowledge sharing between mentor and mentee using the mentor’s deeply engrained familiarity and comfort with basic computer skills.  Of course, many would agree that there is no industry in which the new would not have something to teach the not-so new.

What Is the Subject of the Mentoring Relationship?

Reverse mentoring works in all industries but may demonstrate the most effective results in professional fields where technology is an integral part of the work environment but is not the central focus of the work.  This environment is conducive to knowledge sharing between mentor and mentee using the mentor’s deeply engrained familiarity and comfort with basic computer skills.  Of course, many would agree that there is no industry in which the new would not have something to teach the not-so new. 

So, exactly what the topic is for the mentoring relationship will depend, in large part, on what it is that the mentor is knowledgeable about but the mentee is not.  As long as those two requirements are satisfied, the topics are unlimited. Most commonly, the mentor offers to share his or her technological know-how and the mentee returns the favor by sharing broader-picture lessons that can be formulated only after a full career of participating and observing one’s self and others in the workplace.

What Does Reverse Mentoring Involve?

As with any mentor program, there are no clearly defined requirements for an effective relationship.  But there are guidelines that should be followed in order to receive the best results.  First, there must be a clear set of objectives and they must be communicated to and understood by both persons.  They can define the objectives themselves–no corporate branding required–but they must both come to the relationship with a defined target and set of goals.

Also, as in any relationship, both inside and outside the work environment, time matters.  There must be a mutually acceptable time commitment to both parties if the relationship can be expected to produce real results.  And the more time, the better.  Up to once weekly or as little as once every quarter can be effective. The key, though, is to set expectations in advance and to meet them every time. 

Why Is Reverse Monitoring Effective?

Reverse mentoring is a “win-win” relationship.  The mentee gets to learn skills or obtains access to information that otherwise would be unavailable or unattainable.  The learning environment is non-threatening, which means that it is much more likely to stick.  The mentor has no incentive to make the experience a hostile or showmanship-like event.  Not only does the student rank substantially higher than the teacher in the organization, but the student gets direct fulfillment from the relationship, as well. 

The mentee is given a direct line to someone who is willing to share valuable insight, which Generations X and Y deeply value.  The mentee is also given an opportunity to demonstrate his or her particular skill set, which, especially for the most junior employee, doesn’t happen very often–usually because the skill set hasn’t yet developed.  Once the bond has been forged, both parties are more likely to an active interest in the success of the other. 

For additional information on employee engagement through peer-to-peer training, see these prior posts:

 

As Further Proof that Training Is Key to Employee Engagement . . .

Why Top Performers Are So Hard To Please

The Connection Between Training and Employee Retention, According to Gen Y

Why Recruiters Need to Understand the Helicopter Parent

Gen Y employees are difficult to recruit.  “Millenial” employees, as they’ve come to be known, have lots of demands from a potential employer.  But the expectations of potential Gen Y employees are not nearly as high as the expectations of their parents.  Their parents?  That’s right.  For the first time, employers aren’t recruiting just job candidates.  They’re also recruiting the parents of job candidates.  Continue reading

Gen Y Demands Employers Open the Checkbook for Technology Requests

gen_yAttention, Employers.  Your Millennial workforce has an important message for you–one that you’ll need to get loud and clear if you want to remain competitive in attracting the massive wave of talent currently graduating from college.  So what’s the message?

Well, what’s important is not so much the message, really, but how they’re going to be communicating it.  The message is going to be coming through via Wikis, Blogs, and Social Networking sites.  Instant Messaging and Text Messaging will also be the way your future workforce will communicate its needs and demands through the chain of command.  And those employers who aren’t equipped to deal with this change to its infrastructure will be left behind.    Continue reading

The Connection Between Training and Employee Retention, According to Gen Y

Training is directly connected to employee retention.  Many employees view adequate training as an essential element of a satisfying workplace.  Gen Y sees continuing training as particularly important.  This could be, in part, because of the high priority the Millenial Generation places on making a valuable contribution to the workplace.  And it could be because the average Generation Y employee stays at a job for just 2 years, making continued learning even more important to keeping their skills sharp.  image

But how Gen Y defines training is as different as the high value they assign to its importance.  The most recent generation to join the workforce demands access to “knowledge in chunks.”  Given their familiarity with YouTube, podcasts, and online tutorials, Gen Y is used to jumping online and having immediate access to on-demand learning whenever it is convenient for them. 

Their older coworkers, on the other hand, are more likely to turn towards the traditional paper manual.  They are also more comfortable with classroom training and will request reimbursement for academic tuition fees-not the cable internet bill.

The same casual approach that characterizes Generation Y’s workplace attire carries over to their approach to knowledge sharing.  They are not shy and have no qualms about asking their more knowledgeable coworkers for the answer they need.  And, given that casual attitude, they’re more likely to just “holler across the cubicle walls” to a colleague.  Boomers, who have spent a career in a much more formal and structured workplace, are less than comfortable with this casual interaction.

So what’s the lesson for employers?  For one, if you haven’t already adapted a training and learning approach that fits the Gen Y model, get moving!  Your best Gen Ys may already be “googling” their next career opportunity!!