We caught up with Dr. Douglas Worthington, a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, to ask him about why the generations are different from one another and how it affects work today. Dr. Worthington has spent more than four decades working with businesses to help them find, develop, and keep the best people for their teams. In that four decades, he has come across some very interesting shifts in societal expectations.
“The generational shift that happened with the entrance of the Millennial Generations, is the most significant change that we have seen in workplace values during my lifetime,” says Dr. Worthington. He goes on to explain that there are three fundamental reasons that people are different now than they were 20, 30, or even 50 years ago as they entered the world of work.
The rules of the game have changed, which requires a new strategy to win the game. The game of business, as we know it in the Senior Housing Industry, has shifted on both ends of the scale. Baby Boomers have a significantly higher expectation of service than did their predecessors, the Traditionalists. And, Millennials have a significantly lower self-expectation for work output than did the previous three generations. When you combine those two things, you realize that “something’s gotta give,” as one Executive Director of a CCRC put it.
Dr. Worthington states that people can still learn accountability and can still master the art of working diligently. The challenge is, as he puts it, “that we cannot manage people the way that we used to and expect to get great results, because we are managing completely different people.” We have to be willing to invest in our leaders as well as our employees if we expect to get great results out of them. We have to learn about the generations, how to motivate them, how to coach them, how to change their behaviors, and how to help them win in a world that is very different than it used to be.
According to Dr. Worthington, there are four key areas with 3 sub-areas each, that leaders must master in order to develop their people to the right level. The four areas that are critical are…
The approach that is necessary for improving performance is address the four generations at work and how they respond to different stimuli in each of the developmental categories. Once that foundation is laid, the development process will build a more positive culture and organizations will see their retention rates go up. The second key to success is to ensure that the new people that are coming on board are the right one for the new culture model. This is done through the use of psychometric testing. These tests are designed to measure the psychological makeup of an existing top performer and then match it against the potential candidates in the candidate pool. This helps to narrow the field. Dr. Worthington states that it is the soft skills that will predict a person’s likelihood of success or failure. “When you match people up based on their profile, you significantly increase the odds of a good hire on the first try.” Dr. Worthington
Harvard Business, in their review of best practices in hiring, indicated that the use of pre-hire, validated, assessments, along with conducting reference checks and background checks, will more than triple your odds of a good hire. That cost is often unchecked in long-term care, even though Leading Age Texas has estimated it at around $11,000 per C.N.A. that turns over.
The final component of the process is to continuously measure the attitudes and perceptions of your people. According to the Gallup organization, only 20% of the average workforce is fully engaged right now. Knowing this, it means that 80% of the average workforce has the potential for greater performance, if and when they are motivated to perform at a higher level. The use of Employee Engagement Surveys, along with 360 Evaluations (as needed), and a solid performance review system will make it possible to keep your finger on the pulse of the organization. This is critical, according to Dr. Worthington, because Millennials expect continuous feedback and will often leave if they feel that they are not getting enough. Generation Xers are not far behind them in their desire for feedback as well.
Knowing that the issues facing our workforce relate to the generational shifts in values and knowing that this three-step model makes it much easier to achieve success, it only makes sense to explore ways of building a better culture. A better culture, one that embraces the generational diversity that exists, will retain people, attract people, and develop their full potential.
Generational Values Chart:
Jody is a writer, motivational speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur. He has been the keynote speaker at over 250 events around the world. Jody speaks more than 150 times per year at different programs, and he has given more than 10,000 speeches during his career.