Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Can the Young and Old Co-Exist in the Workplace?

If you have summer interns or recent college graduates at your organization right now, chances are you’re pretty frustrated. If you’re a young person just starting out in your career, chances are you’re pretty frustrated as well. So who’s at fault when both sides just aren’t getting it?

According to a new report by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace published in March found that about half of 704 employers who participated in the study said they had trouble finding recent college graduates qualified to fill positions at their company.

What really caught our attention was the lack of “specific technical skills” wasn’t the whole story. Turns out employers are even more distressed by job candidates’ lack of “written and oral communication skills, adaptability and managing multiple priorities, and making decisions and problem solving.” In other words THE ABILITY TO THINK!

Jaime S. Fall, a vice president at the HR Policy Association, who was interviewed in
Alina Tugend’s piece in last Friday’s New York Times about this report said young employees “are very good at finding information, but not as good at putting that information into context.” In other words, “They’re really good at technology, but not at how to take those skills and resolve specific business problems.”


Mara Swan, executive vice president of global strategy and talent at Manpower Group, told Tugend that young workers have problems with collaboration, interpersonal skills, the ability to deal with ambiguity, flexibility and professionalism.

On the flip side, young workers think there older co-workers and superiors are technology dinosaurs, slow to adapt and resentful that they’re not willing to pay their dues like they did.


There’s truth to both sides of the argument. What our highest performing clients are doing are finding ways to bridge both the generation gap and technology gap by allowing their employees to make contributions on the terms they prefer via the communication tools they prefer. Regardless of where you are in your career or your hiring process, you need to understand what  makes your non-peers tick and help them get the most out of their talents.

Have a great 4th.  HB

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