by Jane Buttermore
i-Gen Chair; Vice President of Operations, Metropolitan Schools Market
Two important events in our history are affecting our workforce today: the country’s uncertain economy combined with medical advancements are creating a workforce that is living longer and/or having to work into their retirement years. this combination has led to four generations working side-by-side for the first time in history. the varied backgrounds and experiences of these generations challenge us to recognize, respect, and harness these differences to create effective and sustainable workforces.
At Sodexo, our intergenerational employee network Group (i-Gen) creates the opportunity to educate, value, and engage these differences, and focus on the similarities. We have learned that each generation wants to be respected and feel that they bring value to the organization. the group has experienced unprecedented interest, with over 550 employees joining in just the first six months. Our i-Gen meetings offer program training that educates and builds awareness around each generation’s unique attributes and the historical events that have shaped their lives. these differences include what motivates them, their work ethic, and how they want to be rewarded. Once each generation understands these drivers, they become a more effective and efficient workforce.
“…the country’s uncertain economy combined with medical advancements are creating a workforce that is living longer and/or having to work into their retirement years.”
i-Gen also recognizes the personal issues that may be facing each generation. Our group works with “Lifeworks” to provide personal consultation and programs to help them outside of work, so they can be more focused and productive at work. Perhaps our Gen Xers are looking for parenting skills, or our Baby Boomers need elder-care assistance. Our network group provides them with resource links to assist them in their personal needs.
The “value-add” of our intergenerational network team is the cross sharing of skills. Our GenYs are interested in learning how to navigate through large organizations quickly, while our traditionalists wants to learn how to tweet. i-Gen communicates to our members through traditional email, but also through facebook, twitter, and flicker. i-Gen will be introducing a Social networking 101 webinar to its members in the near future. The group will be introducing “speed mentoring” at our meetings to assist in the transferring of these generational skills and experiences. Panel discussions will help each group talk about situations and solutions in their work environment.
i-Gen will continue to work with our members to develop ways to share and educate. As an organization that will be vying for top talent, we must be prepared to create an environment where people want to work.
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