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Symposium 2013

Proposal - Role Models and Success Stories - Building Bridges between Young and Old.

The Challenge

In 2020 the majority of baby boomers (age group born between 1956 and 1965) retires. Together with the retirees, 50 years of working experience will disappear. Furthermore, work related values like jo ...

In 2020 the majority of baby boomers (age group born between 1956 and 1965) retires. Together with the retirees, 50 years of working experience will disappear. Furthermore, work related values like job guarantee, high income and power will disappear as well. Whereas the age group born between 1965 and 1981, known as Generation X, started to question these classic values and to bring up the term “Work-Life-Balance”,

Demographic changes in the coming years will challenge European organizations: for the first time, 4 generations, each having its own characteristics will be active in work life. Due to the changes in the labor market, organizations are required to tackle these challenges if they want to retain know-how from the “Oldies but Goldies” generation and at the same time get fit and attractive for the young and sought. Times where older employees could be replaced instantly with qualified younger staff will soon be over due to declining birth rates in Europe.

Although this knowledge is nothing really new, the majority of the organizations don’t incorporate this major topic in their decision-making process as they should. The reasons are mainly two: First, the expectation that there won’t be a significant change in the coming years. Second, organizations are worried that if they address generation management properly, tensions between the generations, fluctuation from the young (losing the war for talent) and rejections from older employees (losing know-how) may arise.

But how to be attractive for all generations - from Baby Boomers to Generation Z? Generation X is defined as the adapted generation: Representatives of this generation will usually go along with most of the changes. But Baby Boomers and Generation Y are described as having strong minds and clear goals and ideas for work and life, and most probably Generation Z will be quite the same. Baby Boomers and Y differentiate among others in the way they communicate, their understanding of hierarchy, their speed and energy, their know-how etc. And there is a lot of stereotyping and misunderstanding assigned to the generations.

Building bridges could be to match these generations - for instance in mentoring programs. Generating success stories and to make them visible is key to bring the generations together to even more so to support them to cooperatively work together. Role models will trigger awareness. As “soft” as role models and success stories sound, they are vitally important to motivate all generations.  

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