25 May 2007

Contempt...sort of

Boomers: In control and not winning friends

Aging baby boomers dominate the work force. They believe rules should be obeyed - unless the rules are contrary to what they want. And they tend to equate hard work with long hours at the office, according to a report released yesterday. Little wonder, then, that about half of Canada's younger workers find the boomers a pain to work with, according to a survey of more than 2,100 employees conducted by the online jobsite Monster.ca. “They [Gen-Xers] entered the job market in the wake of the boomers, only to be confronted with new terms like downsizing … as the economy plunged into recession,” the Monster report said. “Gen-Xers scorn the hard-core, super-motivated, do-or-die boomer work ethic. They're not slackers; they just value control of their time, flexibility, and freedom.” It now appears that many boomers, many of whom have risen to supervisory and managerial ranks, have no immediate plans of relinquishing that control, given that mandatory retirement has been abolished in most jurisdictions. “This likely means that the boomers will be sticking around the workplace a lot longer, especially in supervisory and management roles, creating a glass ceiling of sorts for Gen-Xers,” the report said. “As a result, the frustration and resentment from which Gen-Xers suffer can easily be directed toward the boomers, and tensions in the workplace ensue.”

The boomers' idea of what constitutes a strong work ethic also clashes with younger generations, who do not buy into the concept that you are only working hard if you are seen putting in long hours at the office, according to the survey. It found that younger generations of employees place a greater value on work-life balance and believe their performance should be judged on results - not time spent. The oldest employees, born prior to 1945, report relatively few difficulties working with boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), while Gen-Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) and Gen-Ys (born after 1980) experience the most difficulty. “The chronic labour shortage and the phasing out of mandatory retirement in much of the country has many aging boomers working well into their golden years alongside recent college and university graduates,” Gabriel Bouchard, vp and gm of Monster Canada, said in releasing the survey results. “As diverse generations cross paths on the job, we sometimes see a clash of attitudes, ethics, values and behaviours that can result in misunderstandings and potential conflict. With a multigenerational work force a reality, employers must develop a generational strategy.”
(Globe and Mail 070525)

Any wonder why the question of lack of succession planning and knowledge transfer continues? I don't believe Boomers are individually malicious and greedy, but collectively they stubbornly hold on to the beliefs in their manifest destiny of grandiose entitlements and luxurious golden years, no matter the cost to later generations, the economy, the planet. Their demographic consequence shines directly in their faces, yet doesn't change a thing. I'm sure the loss of mandatory retirement frustrates many of them, but also many capable Gen-Xers that are ready to assume the leadership roles. Unfortunately sheer numbers indicate that to retain any semblance of status quo requires that the Boomers will be holding onto the reins for quite some time yet. But then, status quo must go whether the Boomers like it or not, right?

1 comment:

Matty said...

This is exactly what I'm dealing with at work (I'm writing this from work on a Saturday). It's all about face time.