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Data is exploding 2 myths about Gen YMillennials and work.

One is that they all (OK, a large % of them) want to be entrepreneurs, that is, have their own business. The actual numbers reported (by Lindsay Gellman in the Wall Street Journal, 1/14/15) find otherwise.

The proportion of young adults (under age 30) owning a business in the U.S. was 3.6% in 2014. This has fallen from 10.6 in1989 and 6/3% in 2010 according to Federal Reserve data. It can partially be explained by the recent poor economy and difficulty in getting both funding and work experience, but not all of it. Both the risk adversity of the generation and lack of education focusing on entrepreneurism in high school and earlier probably contribute to this outcome, so some programs are starting to be offered in some high schools in the U.S.

The myth is that members of the Gen Y generation aren’t interested in climbing the corporate ladder in established companies and desire doing “meaningful work” rather than scale the hierarchy.

A survey of over 7,800 workers born in 1983 or more recently in developed and emerging markets countries by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. found that only about 25% felt that their current employer makes full use of their skills. Is the employer just missing out? Or are the employees overestimating their capabilities or misjudging the needs of the business or the market?  Clearly there is a disconnect that has to be diagnosed and addressed.

Interestingly, nearly 65% of respondents in Colombia and Indonesia aspire to the corner office compared with only 38% overall in the developed countries surveyed. Does the environment in poorer countries motivate higher aspirations? Are employees in more developed countries more complacent, or do they want a less demanding lifestyle than the C-Suite offers? Or do they simply want the employers to change?

There is also a gender gap. While 59% of young men aspire to lead their company, only 47% of women in the surveyed countries do. True to the meaningful work mantra, 60% of young workers seek to work for employers with a sense of purpose. The most desirable industries for this group in their 20s and early 30s are technology, media and communications, while they were attracted to life-science companies for those companies’ sense of purpose.

There is also a gender gap. While 59% of young men aspire to lead their company, only 47% of women in the surveyed countries do. True to the meaningful work mantra, 60% of young workers seek to work for employers with a sense of purpose. The most desirable industries for this group in their 20s and early 30s are technology, media and communications, while they were attracted to life-science companies for those companies’ sense of purpose.

The survey findings raise many questions and provide much to contemplate. Please share your thoughts.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com



As was expressed in 2004-5 surveys and again in 2014, Boomers want to keep working beyond traditional retirement age. Now there’s evidence they mean it. A recent study by Merrill Lynch in partnership with Age Wave of workers over age 50 revealed these findings:

  • 72% say their “retirement” will include some form of working. Obviously we need a new word to label this non-retirement.
  •  Twice as many respondents say the most important reason to work is for the mental stimulation (62%) rather than money (31%).
  • 80& of those working say they are doing it because they want to.
  • 83% say working helps keep them more youthful.
  • Why do they want to work? – Boomer continuing workers fall into 4 categories:

        -       33% are “caring contributors” desiring to give back and make a difference

        -       24% are “life balancers” who want jobs that allow them to keep valued social connections

        -       15% are workaholics – still driven to achieve and feeling in their prime

        -       28% are “earnest earners” who need the income and would not choose to be working otherwise.

  • 58% of those working have transitioned to a different line of work from their major career.
  • Their advice to others;

        -       Be open to trying something new (76%)

        -       To do something you really enjoy, be willing to earn less (73%)

So assume Boomers will be in the work world for some time. Understanding their motivations for working and what they are looking to contribute and get out of their work is valuable in getting the most productive outcomes for both solo work and multi-generational teams. A continuing challenge will be achieving effective cross-generational conversation and collaboration.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com


If you’d like more flexibility for all generations in work arrangements and the criteria for how work is evaluated, raise your hand.  OK – I see you out there.

A recent national survey of 1,000 employers by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Families and Work Institute found that while progress is being made in flexibility, facetime still counts for a lot in internal dynamics and perceptions of productivity.

The study found that organizations offer flexibility arrangements motivated by a variety of reasons:

  • 35% for employee retention
  • 14% for recruitment
  • 12% to increase productivity
  • 11% because “it’s the right thing to do”
  • 10% to support worker morale and job satisfaction.

In your opinion, what’s the best reason?


The work flexibility movement has taken steps backward since the recent recession took hold.  New research from the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) surveyed 1051 employers on 18 different flextime options and considered which were increasing and decreasing in implementation and use. Overall in less formal ways or one-offs, flexibility has increased. For example, two-thirds of responding organizations allow occasional work from home, up from 50% in 2008, and 38% allow working from home regularly, up from 23% in 2008.

But when viewed by individual options, the findings are the reverse. Compared with 2008:

  • Job sharing is down from 29% to 18%
  • Sabbaticals decreased from 38% to 28%
  • Only 2% of U.S. employers offer any kind of voucher or subsidy for child care, down from 5%

The survey also looked at phased retirement, parental leave, ability to switch shifts, control over time of meal and bathroom breaks, health insurance coverage and other policies.

While workers’ stress has been increasing, employers during the recession and since have felt the need to reduce personnel and costs, which limits ability to be flexible.

So the question is whether as the labor market tightens and talent wars resume (if they do) the younger workers will see work/life flexibility on the upswing and benefit. Will more companies see the value of being perceived as a "best place to work"? Will workers finally experience work arrangements more in tune with their values and their ideas on how, where and when work should be done?

Please comment and add your thoughts.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com


A recent DDI study, Driving Workplace Performance through High-Quality Conversations, found both front-line and senior leaders lack fundamental interaction skills and behaviors required to be effective leaders. The study report concludes that what’s missing “is the ability to facilitate effective conversations, something that should be mastered by every business leader as part of a core set of interaction skills in order to build relationships and get work done.” This is at least as true of senior leaders as those with less experience according to the study.

The need to learn the skill of conversation is a challenge to the fast-paced, just get it done, data-driven world we are living in. Even some technology thought leaders are sounding the alarm. We have been champions of cross-generational conversation as necessary for business productivity and profitability since it is essential for knowledge transfer, attracting and retaining both clients and employees and enabling work teams to achieve high performance.

 Organizations need to recognize that the skill of conversation is not typically part of business education, and they must require or provide training, especially as all generations increasingly communicate electronically and often neglect context.

 Please comment and share information on any organizations you know are providing this training in-house. If you would like to learn about Cross-Generational Conversation Day, contact us (pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com).

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com


A new national online survey sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Ad Council confirmed some widespread and potentially troubling characteristics of young workers (age 25-34 now), the major segment of the Gen Y/Millennial workforce. The survey provides a foundation for the “Feed the Pig” financial literacy campaign, a series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) urging that generation to build long-term financial security by thinking independently and foregoing short-term gratification through living beyond their means.

Here are some of the findings, which confirm  (or reinforce) and quantify the extent Gen Yers are led by peer pressure, fear of not belonging, and the attitude that in an uncertain and volatile world, grab what you can now. (As the saying goes, “Life is short; start with dessert.”)

  • 78% model their financial habits on their friends’ habits.
  • 66% want to keep pace with where friends live.
  • 64% want to be in sync with what friends wear.
  • Similar percentages feel pressure to go to the types of places their friends eat at and use the types of gadgets they carry.
  • 61% still get financial help from their families.

As a consequences a large portion of that age groups miss bill payments and rack up substantial credit card debt paying for necessities. Financial stability means paying all their bills each month for 70%. This is a short-term view, the desire for immediate gratification.

The fact that Gen Y/Millennials are strongly influenced by peers’ lifestyle purchases indicates the depth of their need to “belong.” Also they expect to be able to rely on their families. These attributes are portrayed humorously in the ad campaign developed pro bono by kirshenbaum, bond, senecal + partners (kbs+).

But there is a very serious side emotionally, beyond financial literacy. In his essay, Looking for “Likes” in the New York Times Education Life section (11/3/13). Andrew Reiner, who teaches at Towson University in the Honors College and English Department, comments on the self-pressure he observes in his students’ generation: “ A small but growing body of evidence suggests that excessive social media use can lead to an unhealthy fixation on how one is perceived and an obsessive competitiveness. Perhaps not surprisingly, this angsting can also lead to an unhealthy quest for perfection, a social perfection, which breeds an aperture-narrowing conformity.”

A few brave souls, wrote Reiner, admitted to fearing peers’ judgments for writing something stupid, or worse, something that “set them apart.” They feared expressing a different opinion would make others dislike them. “The ultimate goal? Racking up ‘Likes.’”

Yes,of course there has been some degree of fear, peer pressure and conformity in every (young) generation. But the level of parental protection and social media exposure the youngest generations have experienced does magnify the problem.

One hopes the Feed the Pig campaign makes many converts. The independent thinking habits regarding financial security can result in growth and self-actualization in other aspects of life and work.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com



A recent study conducted by Harris/Decima for Ceridian) found that job rewards of various types favored by different generations are a strong driver of engagement. The three top drivers overall are:

1 – receiving monetary or non-monetary rewards for a job well done (47%)

2 – job recognition (42%)

3 – job motivation (11%)

 What specific employees value must align with the rewards to be effective. Rewards must be tailored to consider generational differences, individual preferences and technological innovation. There are several types of popular non-monetary rewards, and Gen Y/Millennials are more interested in them than the other generations. 70% of Gen Yers in the survey said they would like their company to offer non-monetary rewards such: as personal days off: free meals: sports events, concert and show tickets.

 Fundamentally, employers need to know what employees think makes a job worthwhile. All generations want interesting work (39%), autonomy (32%) and good compensation (31%) but in differing order of priority. Interesting work ranks first for Gen Y and Boomers. Gen X is most interested in good salary followed by good job benefits.

 Generational opinions of what makes the job more rewarding also differed in how they ranked the top four overall. Boomers find training opportunities and flexible hours more rewarding; Gen Xers also most favor flexible hours; and Gen Yers are more likely to want the opportunity to take o more responsibility at work.

 This is a heads up for employers to take into account generational differences and wants and needs if they want to have more productive workforces, retain their people and be considered best places to work.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com  


We are moving toward favoring more transparent, participatory leadership and management styles. Results of a study by the National Federation of Independent Business revealed these as the top demotivators to employees and co-workers. My brief commentary follows each on the list.

Micromanagement is #1 – Particularly hated by Generations X and Y/Millennials

Public criticism – Not only offensive to all, but discourages anything not deemed “safe”

Implied threats – Be direct and honest

Failing to provide praise – Demotivates everyone and most craved by Gen Y

Not explaining your actions – Discourages trust; people want transparency

Not following up – Why bother? Is the item/task not important?

Not sharing company data –The call for transparency is growing stronger

Failing to honor creative thinking and problem solving – Why bother?

What else would you add or substitute to the top 10?  Please comment.

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com


Workplace Factoids from Human Resource Executive. According to surveys:

  • 30% of people born after 1980 say they feel anxious if they can’t check Facebook every few minutes.
  • 23%vof recent college grads wouldn’t take job if they weren’t allowed to make or receive personal phone calls.
  • 46% of 18-24 year olds would rather have access to the Internet than access to their own car.
  • The number of hours U.S. college students spending studying declined by 59% from 50 years ago. At the same time, the number of hours students spent working at a job increased by 44%.


A new survey of 4,200 people in the US, UK and Germany by Calling Brands consultancy found a high level of desire to work for an employer organization with an underlying spirit that goes beyond commercial and operational goals. The study consisted of interviews with HR and Communications chiefs from major multinational organizations. In reporting on the findings, it was said that this is a change in attitude. No demographics were given except the country of residence.

Related but not the same thing as Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Purpose now appears to be a powerful driver for retention and attraction of employees as well as productivity.

Perhaps the need to spend so much time at work is driving people to seek meaningful intangibles during the course of their work and to feel they are fulfilling a greater purpose than merely profitability. Survey results indicated that an average of 57% of respondents (58% in the US) would favor joining an organization that has a clearly defined “Purpose, ” and an average of 65% said that Purpose would motivate them to “go the extra mile.”



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