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A study by professors from Harvard, Boston University and Florida State University concluded that the problem with work is longer and longer hours, and that family-friendly policies can have unintended results that especially hurt women’s careers.

“The Problem with Work is Overwork” – Toll on families and gender equalityhttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/upshot/the-24-7-work-cultures-toll-on-families-and-gender-equality.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

In-depth interviews with employees of a prominent global consulting firm that had asked the researchers to recommend what they could do to decrease the number of women who quit and increase the number who were promoted found that men were at least as likely as women to say the long hours interfered with their family lives. And the men quit at the same rate as women. But men and women dealt with the long hours pressure in different ways.

To quote the New York Times article about the study, “The researchers said that when they told the consulting firm they had diagnosed a bigger problem than a lack of family-friendly policies for women — that long hours were taking a toll on both men and women — the firm rejected that conclusion. The firm’s representatives said the goal was to focus only on policies for women, and that men were largely immune to these issues.”

Clearly that firm (and many others) do not want to address the culture of overwork.

Perhaps if we as a society help the men by rejecting and abandoning the stereotypes and expectations about men’s commitment and roles regarding work and family, it will also substantially benefit women and gender equality.

Please share your thoughts.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com



Following in Facebook’s footsteps, Apple Inc. is about to start “selling” something new. The latest announcement from Apple is getting as much attention in some quarters as the latest iPhones and iPads. Steve Jobs might even approve, since the newest perk or benefit (choose your term), also made possible by technology, seems aimed at making it easier for women to stay working longer when they are likely to be most productive and reproductive.

I am referring to the new policy of offering to pay up to $20,000 for the expensive medical procedure for women to freeze some of their eggs in the hope of achieving pregnancy at a later date. I have raised the subject of pros, cons and motivations on social media. My purpose here is not to debate that, but rather to get us thinking about what benefits or perks people of different generations want, what the employers’ motivations for offering them are, and whether the offerings really motivate people to higher performance, retention and loyalty. 

The Apple announcement quickly generated articles in major business media (New York Times and Forbes, for example and TV political talk shows)) about the specific egg freezing perk and what could be downsides of generous perks as well. But none I saw looked at the perks and benefits issues from a generational perspective.

Benefits that appeal to all generations include, among others, employer paid health insurance, free or subsidized food, on-site or paid gym memberships, concierge services and flexible work arrangements. 

Those only directly benefiting younger workers include paid maternity and paternity leave, freezing eggs, on-site and emergency childcare.

Baby Boomers, though they tend to have better attendance records, likely use their health insurance more and may have higher premiums associated with the policies. They also may make more use of benefits that cover time off or other expenses to care for elderly parents, as might older Gen Xers.

These are life cycle realities not tied to any currently labeled generation.  And in fairness, no generation should be discriminated against because of demographic and biological factors. Yet there often are stigmas or resentments related to costs of benefits, offering of perks and finger pointing across the members of multigenerational workforces. Older workers may resent that younger ones are now getting flexible work arrangements and childcare they would have loved to have, and instead they had to struggle through on their own while trying to build careers. Younger workers might argue that health care costs are higher for older workers.

Workers may wonder if some of the generous employer perks come from a stealth motivation since they can lead to the trap of working 24/7 rather than giving the workers more control over their lives. For instance, taking advantage of free or low-cost meals and various concierge services on site discourages taking breaks to reduce stress, walks for exercise and time for useful reflection.

The benefits and perks have been shown to help attract and retain people in the talent wars. However, there has been little evidence that they motivate people to work better and harder. Especially competitive people want recognition of their achievements rather than some of the perks and only team recognition.

People of all generations welcome benefits and perks and won’t turn them down. But motivations come from another source. Here are some things that motivate – generalized to generations:


Opportunities to keep learning and contributing

Being made to feel continually relevant

Making role transitions respected and appropriately compensated.

Gen X

Recognition of individual achievements

Opening paths to leadership slots

Opportunity to do things their way

Gen Y/Millennials

Having their ideas listened to

Being shown how their role is important to the whole

Providing frequent new learning experiences

For most people the above connect to intrinsic motivations – the strongest and most lasting kind – more than the latest shiny perk. Firms/organizations need to get a better grasp on what really appeals in a deeper way to the talent they covet and pursue that path.

Please send your thoughts to pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com or comment hre or on the Cross-Generational Conversation group on LinkedIn.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot      www.pdcounsel.com  


Each generation’s view of work and how it will best engage them and motivate them to be most productive has changed. But the design of work and work processes has not changed adequately with the times. From surveys, observations and discussions, here are the key issues I see:

  • Neglecting to make work continually perceived as meaningful to workers.
  • Not providing opportunities for all to learn and grow.
  • Recognition and feedback not closely timed and aligned to the event.
  • Metrics that are counter to goals and motivation, e.g., time-based rather than results-based.
  • Uniform facetime demands without rational reasons for them.
  • People showing lack of respect or not understanding what respect of others requires.
  • Differing and unclear definitions of professionalism.
  • Not encouraging input on work design and process from all participants: generations and levels.
  • Hierarchical titles that divide rather than include and encourage collaboration.
  • Not considering who wants and who doesn’t want more challenge and increased responsibility in their work so they are appropriately motivated.

In future posts I will suggest strategies and steps to redesign work so it will work better for all generations.

Please add or comment on other problems you see – or those above that you don’t think are problems. Let’s have a conversation on this significant issue ripe for change.


 How to make members of each generation see they are owners/masters of their career enterprise is a challenge in many organizations. It’s what I call “career entrepreneurship,” and the need for it won’t disappear with an economic upturn. I wrote about it (recently) from a Baby Boomer perspective for Next Avenue.

You need to start learning to ask yourself some foresighted questions such as:

  • What trends are likely to affect my opportunities and roles?
  • What will become obsolete and will require me to change?
  • What do I need to learn and do to keep increasing my relevance?

Beverly Kaye wrote about that change in perspective and approach in her book “Help Them, Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want to Have” (BK Business, 2012). Individuals need to think about role shifts that require mind shifts, and employers need to support this more entrepreneurial thinking as positive for them as well. Some mind shifts include:

  • The goal doesn’t have to be the top position. And if you’re at the top, there are future role shifts that can be satisfying and creative.
  • There are alternate paths for different people at different times.
  • You can choose riskier or safer moves and shift from one to the otherover a career span for what feels right at the time.

In any case, don’t put artificial limits on yourself.

Work has changed. Job discussions and requirements have changed, and training has not kept up. You may have to re-invent yourself – or not. But the concept of what I call career entrepreneurship, taking charge of your own career development, is a winning strategy for anyone determined to succeed.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com


In almost every group discussion I’ve participated in with college students and young alums as a mentor, cross-generational networker, coach or friend, the question of following or having a passion in one’s work comes up. It’s become gospel that “passion” is necessary to succeed or be happy in or at work. And at networking meetings we are frequently asked to mention our passions to build relationships. In a discussion at a dinner meeting of students and alumni of the Cornell Women’s Network this summer, I took the opportunity to speak up for those who haven’t identified a passion (yet) or maybe don’t know what passion is for them.

So I was delighted to read a Gen Y/Millennial contribution to the New York Times “Preoccupations” column (9/30/12) titled “Follow a Passion? Let It Follow You.” He explains and explores the myth and relates his own experience. It also helps to explain the new label “Hesitation Generation.”

Cal Newport, age 29, now a computer science professor at Georgetown University, wrote of his generation, ”Growing up we were told by guidance counselors, career advice books, the news media and others to ‘follow our passion.’ This advice assumes that we all have a pre-existing passion waiting to be discovered.

This only makes sense for a small group of people who by their late teens have had a clear passion in sight. (And in my consulting and coaching experience, many of those discover by their 40s that the passion has died for them and their strong focus on it with blinders to other broadening interests has left them ill-prepared for career and life transitions.) For anyone else, the pressure to follow a passion they have identified may be intense and even cause anxiety among those with a passion that they have actually chosen the right thing. Every time Gen Yers’ work is hard or lacking total pleasure they want to job-hop to find a better right choice – not sticking it out long enough to succeed. The Hesitation Generation.

Newport summarizes, and cites Daniel Pink’s book “Drive” for details, the traits that lead people to love their work: a sense of autonomy, feeling you are good at what you do, and feeling you are having an impact on the world, whatever the job is. He says these elements need to be earned and take time (my emphasis).

Newport concludes offering this advice: “Passion is not something you follow. It is something that will follow you as you put in hard work to become valuable in the world.”

Very savvy and perceptive for a 20-something. And good insight for a member of any generation with anxiety that they have/had no passion to follow.

Has this changed your mind about the “follow your passion” gospel? Has it reduced your stress if you have not identified a passion or worry that your choice may prove less than perfect? Please share your thoughts.

Phyllls Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com


Enjoy and gain some insights on inter-generational challenges, including the need for knowledge transfer and leadership transfer between and across the generations.

Let me know what you think. I welcome comments, questions and all feedback.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com 




Coach World TV with Terry Yoffe, Featuring Phyllis Weiss Haserot ...
Coach World TV with Terry Yoffe (Phyllis Weiss Haserot - 09/10/12)



 In his June 21, 2012 HBR blog post Daniel Gulati dubs the approximately 25-34 year old cohort the “hesitation generation,” an expanding class of talented individuals who inadvertently are training themselves to be systematically indecisive.” He says they’ve been taught “to carefully weigh alternatives and pick the path with the highest expected utility.”

As Barry Schwartz explained in his book The Paradox of Choice the more choices the more stressful and difficult to make a decision and the less satisfied with the choice. Social media multiplies the problem because we are able to compare endlessly, solicit numerous opinions and second-guess our choices.

The 25-34 year olds from top-tier schools and work experience Gulati interviewed for his new book Passion & Purpose ranked as the #1 reason for choosing a job, intellectual stimulation. That was a requirement they sought and easily switched employers to find. Many just defer making career decisions. Gulati says generating options can quickly become an end in itself. As a result, “Some of the most talented individuals in the world find themselves stuck in an unending holding pattern, a professional gray zone housing those who have the most options of all and have failed to convert any of them for fear of missing out on all others,” wrote Gulati.

By his own admission, Gulati drew these conclusions from a sample of dozens, hardly a scientific sample or a significant size pool. Apparently he saw some patterns he considers significant.

Add the broader statistics regarding young people returning to their parents’ home in their 20s and delaying marriage and parenting, and perhaps the “Hesitation Generation” label has some validity for some of the Gen Y/Millennials cohort. They have been told to do what they are passionate about. Many may be searching for passion, but not everyone feels passion early on or sometimes, ever.  Or is a desire for options and more learning to keep ourselves marketable a reaction to the times? Desire for options and flexibility has been a typical attribute of Generation X since they entered the world of work in another bad recession and having witnessed the historical employer-employee social contract being ripped to sheds.

Feeling purpose in one’s work, feeling one has a purpose, is very important to career and personal satisfaction. (The young orphan in the recent film “Hugo” talks of everything and everyone having a purpose.) But it may not necessarily go hand in hand with passion or perfection.

My personal experience with people in the 25-34 age group (many in a similar privileged category as Gulati’s interviewees and many not) has been largely positive, but I do recognize some of the symptoms that Gulati talks about and have read much about it.

What are your thoughts on this? Is the “hesitation generation” simply a manifestation of the new life stage between adolescence and adulthood called “enduring adolescence” or “emerging adulthood”? Or is it something else?

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com



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.”




A brilliant way for a Gen Y to get good training in an interesting job and provide small businesses the talent they need (if only it weren’t for student debt).


  • Gen Y/Millennials need jobs and training
  • A large number of Gen Yers want to start a business, but have little or no knowledge and experience regarding what is needed to build a successful business.
  • Small (under 500 employees) businesses need eager, smart, flexible, people concerned more with learning hard-to-find skills in entrepreneurial environments than earning top dollar.
  • Many desirable college grads have student debt, which colors their career and job choices.

Note: The Gen Yers typically have a different mindset and way of operating from the “freelance mentality” of the Gen Xers of the dot-com era.

Challenge: How to connect the dots to benefit the aspiring but untrained entrepreneur and the businesses needing the talent, especially in struggling cities.

To meet this challenge, Venture for America, inspired by Teach for America, was started by Andrew Tang, former CEO of Manhattan GMAT, the test prep company.  As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the first 50 “fellows” will be placed in small businesses (under 500 employees) this summer for a 2-year stint. Tang’s goal is to help early stage businesses and start-ups take off, and he is targeting to create 100,000 jobs by 2025. At the same time, the young fellows will get the know-how and experience to start companies of their own if that’s their goal. According to a recent survey by the Young Invincibles (a group focusing on young entrepreneurship) 54% of 18-34 year-olds in the U.S. want to start a business or already have done so.

The companies employing the Venture for America fellows will pay them $32,000 to $38,000 a year plus health benefits, and the participants will receive a 5-week program at Brown University similar to training that consultants and investment bankers receive.  The companies get bright, eager young workers they can afford to hire and mentor. This certainly would seem to fill the bill, especially for recent grads not burdened by family financial obligations or heavy student debt.  Even so, it seems a good investment in their chosen career direction.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com




As professionals and executives become more senior, there is often a desire or expectation, self-generated or from others, that they will want to devote themselves to "good works" as a legacy. Leading edge Baby Boomers, tracing back to their formative years in the 1960s, started out as a generation to be socially conscious, involved and eager to make significant contributions for a better world. As they matured and became intensely immersed in their careers, often achieving substantial recognition and financial success, some are well on their way to fulfilling their "legacy bucket." Others have been too busy to think about it.

The philanthropic and pro bono world is watching. For example in the legal field, both the American Bar Association's Second Season of Service Initiative and some local entities such as the Association of the Bar of the City of New York have been eyeing and expecting senior lawyers nearing traditional retirement age to become a large talent pool for pro bono work.  The Great Recession’s effects may have changed or delayed that for a lot of them.

Pro bono, volunteering or unpaid work is not for everyone. In our *Next Generation, Next Destination* client interviews, we find that many Baby Boomer professionals want to continue to play in the business arena – with financial compensation. This was true before the recession, and is more so now.

So I had an interesting thought. The hedge fund managers and tech entrepreneurs under age 40 have started to think about philanthropy and how to use their money to do good. But many don't want to do it in the traditional ways. They are interested in starting their own entities with a different model which combines making money with doing good things for society. Perhaps some of those seasoned Baby Boomers can link their legacy time, expertise and desire to continue to contribute with the Generation X and Y entrepreneurs for some hybrid organization that takes advantage of the best each generation has to offer.

I, for one, would look forward to seeing how this can take shape. There certainly are limitless needs, causes and opportunities whether built on a not-for-profit or for-profit model.

I'd love to hear your ideas on this.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com



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