The Four Pillars of Employable Talent offers an in-depth exploration of each of the four generations that comprise the variety of employable talent in today’s workforce – Senior Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials – and provides insight into their career expectations and how to best work with them.
“The purpose is to educate talent managers on the strengths and values each generation possesses, as well as the challenges they face. An organization needs to understand, respect, and appreciate each generation that contributes to its performance,” writes author Dr. David Miles, chairman of The Miles LeHane Companies, a Northern Virginia strategic management and talent management consulting firm.
According to the author, “employable talent” continually demonstrates that they are equipped to add value to their employers and are prepared to lead them into the future. Employable Talent comprises the following Four Pillars:
- Resilience in the face of obstacles or setbacks.
- Balance among the spheres of one’s life – work, family and leisure.
- Strategic career planning that helps maintain employability by having an alternative game plan in case of unforeseen career developments.
- Active financial planning, which includes long-term financial goals and interim benchmarks to map progress
“The Four Pillars of Employable Talent” is a resource for both employers and employees to understand the significance of the concept of “employable talent”:
- Employers: It offers guidelines on how to better identify, recruit, and retain job candidates with the unique sets of skills needed to support organizational objectives. It also recommends ways that leaders can develop their own leadership skills and advance in their careers.
- Employees and job-seekers: It outlines how organizations have changed their recruiting processes, what talent managers are looking for in job candidates today, and proposes strategies they can use to put their talents in front of potential employers.
The following are profiles of the four generations and how each one relates to The Four Pillars of Employable Talent.
Senior Generation, born between 1920 and 1945
Although Seniors no longer dominate the workforce through sheer numbers, they are disproportionately represented at the top of the corporate structure. Seniors are characterized by their fierce loyalty to family, employer, community, nation, and religious beliefs, and by their desire to leave a sustainable legacy. Personal honor and integrity are their watchwords, not mere slogans. Their respect for authority has been demonstrated time and time again. They recognize the value, as well as the payoff, of living within their means. They feel that caring for those depending on them comes ahead of their own personal interests and desires.
Working with Seniors: Their overriding aim is to remain relevant and significant. A key element to remaining relevant is giving back, which provides them with a deep sense of fulfillment. They want to leave a legacy and are continually scouting for opportunities to offer value to others while creating meaning for themselves, such as seeking advisory positions on boards and volunteering in their communities.
Some employers, particularly entrepreneurial and startup companies, may miss the contributions that Seniors can bring to the workplace, helping to stabilize, coach, and mentor younger workers. They have a highly positive impact on others. Some organizations fall into the trap of believing that Senior workers are set in their ways, unenergetic and not interested in acquiring new skills. Linking Seniors with Generation X and Millennials through coaching, formal and informal mentoring or job shadowing helps transfer information and maintain the continuity of knowledge, skills, and organizational know how.
Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1965
Baby Boomers are prevalent in leadership positions within organizations and businesses of all sizes. The eldest of the Baby Boomers are now reaching retirement age. Similar to the Senior Generation, Baby Boomers can be regarded as being unwilling or unable to adapt to new technologies, ideas, and procedures, but this assessment is inaccurate. Baby Boomers have had to learn today’s personal technologies on the fly. For Generation X and Millennials, personal computers, mobile devices, the Internet, e-mail and instant messaging have always existed.
Working with Baby Boomers: Baby Boomers have had their resilience tested more than any other generational group with the disappearance of such concepts as climbing the corporate ladder and lifetime employment. Those who are more in tune with the new employment agreement – that employers are obligated to help employees maintain employability in the workplace only as long as the relationship is mutually beneficial – have better odds at remaining resilient.
Baby Boomers crave recognition and, in some cases, constant praise. They want to be acknowledged for their achievements, both privately and publicly. Baby Boomers need to be heard. Listening to what they have to say and the potential solutions they have to contribute goes a long way toward making Baby Boomers feel valued, respected and needed. They have learned the importance of being fierce competitors, but are not as aware that being an effective team member sometimes means being a less competitive employee. Work with them to achieve win-win scenarios that help them further establish their long-term viability and add value to their organizations.
Generation X, born between 1966 in 1985
Generation X members are the resident experts within their organizations on the information technologies that have so profoundly changed the way both business and society operate. Raised by the optimism of their parents, Generation X members possess an internal sense of self-reliance as well as confidence regarding their skills and ability to get things done. Adopting a “less is always more” philosophy, they embrace informal social networks as a method of information exchange, camaraderie, and long-term survival. Gen X is willing to put in a full day’s work, but they want to be able to operate the buttons and levers to determine for themselves how the work will be done and what level of compensation is commensurate with their efforts and results.
Working with Generation X: Generation X does not deplete their energy trying to appear overly committed to their work. Instead, they show up ready to do their best. Generation X was born into a world of ever-expanding technology that helped them develop a “me against the world” orientation. Many Generation X members do not exhibit the kind of loyalty that Baby Boomers and Seniors have toward their organizations.
To keep them engaged, provide opportunities for them to enhance their professional skills so they feel as if their current positions are contributing to their overall career progression. Generation X prefers to be managed by supervisors who serve more as coaches than overlords. They are more likely to respond to personable, effective bosses and give their allegiance to those people rather than to organizations.
Millennials, born 1986-
Millennials are a generation that is not yet fully defined. They are more predisposed to change than any previous group. An upgrade of anything they own is welcomed. They tend to do the same with employers, taking what appears to be an upgrade at a moment’s notice. They possess the two strengths that could be expected of the youngest generation: energy and creativity. Millennials are short on qualities that need time to mature. They are content in feeling that planning is unnecessary and that the future is too far off to invest in.
Millennials prefer no separation among work, education and fun and feel that every day should include elements of each. Because they have been bombarded with positive reinforcement from parents, teachers and coaches, they have come to expect employers to do the same.
Working with Millennials: Millennials bring to the workplace a sense of internal needs, wants, and demands unlike any other generation. They are highly motivated by such intangibles as the ability to work independently, peer recognition, enhanced learning opportunities and relating knowledge they acquire to what they already know.
Millennials’ loyalty is to themselves and their lifestyles, with employers coming in a distant third. They were raised with the belief that they can achieve anything they desire in life. They want to live life to its fullest now while they’re still young and healthy. They have a clear idea of the tradeoff they want to make between their paid positions and the rest of their lives. They want to be able to work, play, sleep and eat at hours convenient to them – not based on some organizational superstructure.
Millennials are poised to thrive in a culture of flexibility. They are adept at multitasking and are heavily networked. This interconnectedness, both online and off, contributes to a team-oriented disposition. However, they may be uncomfortable, or even incompetent, interacting face-to-face with potential employers, co-workers or customers. Millennials tend to be more optimistic and confident than Generation X. They can be highly ambitious and look forward to rapid career growth and requisite perks.
A companion book, Building Block Essentials, assists job seekers in creating a tactical 12-step job-search plan when implementing the Four Pillars and provides all the collateral needed in today’s competitive market. “Both strategy and tactics must come together in order for job-seekers to stand out from other candidates and be considered for key positions in their fields. Once they have integrated these principles, they can truly be considered ’employable talent,'” adds Dr. Miles.