Younger Employees Looking Beyond Paycheck

Discussion
Sep 14, 2006

By George Anderson


Today’s workers aren’t interested in just picking up a paycheck. They are also seeking jobs at companies with “comfortable corporate cultures.”


Rebecca Ryan, founder of Next Generation Consulting, said there’s a coming labor shortage that will arise when Baby Boomers retire and fewer candidates are available to fill those positions. The result will be greater pressure put on companies to offer something other than a place to work.


“We have to become employers of choice. Young people aren’t simply looking for a job anymore,” she said. “They are looking for an experience.”


That experience, according to Ms. Ryan, includes offering “meaningful work, opportunities to learn and grow, a balance between work and life and an atmosphere where workers feel their viewpoint is being taken into consideration.”


Discussion Questions: Do you agree with Rebecca Ryan on what younger workers are looking for in choosing a career and employer? Does U.S. retailing offer
what workers are looking for in that regard?

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14 Comments on "Younger Employees Looking Beyond Paycheck"


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Barry Wise
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Barry Wise
15 years 8 months ago

Although I tend to agree that the next generation may want more — just as our “boomer” generation wanted a job that was better than our parents — I believe the generation replacing the “boomers” needs to understand that they’re no longer living under the care and concern of their parents. They are now in the real world where they are expected to actually work for their pay check. Improving working conditions and business processes that make the job they do easier is expected. Companies will accommodate some of the needs and wants of tomorrow’s workers, but as a former retailer, I do not believe retailing will ever be able to meet the expectations set by Ms. Ryan.

Robert Dyer
Guest
Robert Dyer
15 years 8 months ago

I concur that the issue of job satisfaction over monetary reward is not solely a younger worker issue. The challenge we have as retailers is to attempt to transform the “negative” aspects of retailing (non-traditional hours of operation, operating on holidays, night stocking, peak customer demand periods, etc.) into positives. This can be accomplished by attracting people who embrace the non-traditional and are seeking flexible work hours, non-weekend days off (due to crowding issues at popular attractions), and being rewarded monetarily for working in a non-traditional work schedule environment.

The key is to be up-front with the potential negatives, accentuate the positives, and attract the “right” people to the job. Once you have these people, treat them with respect, dignity, and continue to develop them into the future managers and leaders required to grow your company.

Keri Zipay
Guest
Keri Zipay
15 years 8 months ago

As a “young employee” in corporate retail America, I am just looking for the tri-fecta of jobs – engaging tasks (preferably in my field of study), decent pay (not necessarily stellar), and a supportive supervisor. It seems like I am not the only one; I see a lot of job/company jumpers my age. The tri-fecta is hard to come by, I’m sure we’ll all finally realize that and settle in somewhere where we get two out of three.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

My first job out of college 25 years ago was in retail management. Since this time, one thing seems to have remained constant – low pay and long hours. I don’t know of any retailer that offers a comfortable corporate culture, except maybe Trader Joe’s. Since entry level retail pays so poorly, most major retailers look to hire the less motivated “C” student who is unlikely to find a better job somewhere else. I agree young workers are looking for an “experience” but they aren’t going to find it at most retailers. Unless you are a store manager at a high volume outlet, the money is just not there. It’s rare to find an entry level retail manager who looks forward to going to work everyday. I think they spend most of their day daydreaming about sitting inside a cubicle in front of a computer screen.

Dale Collie
Guest
Dale Collie
15 years 8 months ago

Workplace satisfaction and stress control are leadership responsibilities. We’ll continue to see savvy leaders who know how to work with “individuals,” and we’ll continue to see those who just don’t get it. For years we’ve known that people don’t work for the pay check, and now we’re going to see people who are much more willing to vote with their feet. And…as the labor shortage develops, we’ll see more mobility in all age groups.

George Anderson
Guest
George Anderson
15 years 8 months ago

It’s interesting to bring up Maslow’s theory. I think it could be easily argued that store-level employees are not having their survival requirements met by retail employers. Not sure how anyone “survives” working full-time on less than $20,000 a year unless they are possibly still living at home for free with their parents. That said, finding other self-affirming reasons for working at retail store are probably not given very much consideration.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
15 years 8 months ago
Employees are another reflection of the diversity among consumers in the marketplace. Baby boomers are not the same – they are not all going to be retiring when “retirement age” hits. 65 is not a magic number for millions of baby boomers. They are not going to be retiring en mass; those who retire from one job may not stay out of the workforce; some may return for part time jobs. In the first place, the workforce may not be significantly smaller. The composition of jobs workers want may be significantly different. The needs of those baby boomers may be different than they are now; they won’t have a single motivation. In addition, the variety of needs of younger workers will also be diverse. The remaining workforce will be a challenge for managers but not just the younger workforce. The whole workforce will be a challenge with some boomers wanting (or needing) to continue full-time employment, some boomers wanting (or needing) part-time employment and the younger workforce being composed of diverse ethnic groups, different economic… Read more »
Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
15 years 8 months ago

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Ms. Ryan’s findings are no different, other than perhaps wording, from what consultants and surveys have reported for decades. Money, for the most part, has never been the number one consideration in ether the acceptance of a position or no job satisfaction. A prime example of this was Greg Maddux. He is arguably one of the best pitchers in major league history. Yet he spurned a significantly higher monetary offer from the NY Yankees to join the Atlanta Braves. He felt is was a better environment (in Ms. Ryan’s verbiage…a better experience) than the higher paying position.

As for baby boomers retiring; my guess is thy won’t retire as quickly as people think they will. It is being said that 60 is the new middle age. If that is true and if baby boomers are still very active and want to continue their current lifestyle, they will not leave the work force at such an early age.

Greg Coghill
Guest
Greg Coghill
15 years 8 months ago

This is a very interesting topic, sure to be a hot issue for years to come. One very interesting take on the subject is a book titled “Permanent Temporary” by Joseph Fedcamp. It discusses the values and changing attitudes in the American work force. It discusses corporate cultures and quality of life in relation to one’s employment situations.

To answer the question, yes I agree with Rebecca Ryan, but I also agree with Ian Percy when he says the idea is not exclusive to young people. “Does U.S. retailing offer what workers are looking for in that regard?” I think the retailing industry offers some great opportunities that provide experience and growth, but just like any other industry, it depends on the structure, management style, and environment. As far as entry-level retailing, or even retail management, I think it is what most young people are running from. It’s often the model of what they fear the most.

Robert Leppan
Guest
Robert Leppan
15 years 8 months ago

There is an old saying that the assets of a company go up and down the elevator. My experience is that most employees would prefer to work in an environment that provides meaningful work, an upward career path and a sense of pride and empowerment. This is especially true with younger workers who are just starting out and don’t have the family obligations of mortgage and children to keep them chained to a job they dislike. It’s a crucial aspect of corporate success to attract and keep good employees. Retailers need to develop ways to attract and keep younger employees and there is a host of things they can do to create an environment that provides job/career satisfaction.

Ian Percy
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

What do you mean “younger employees”? Who ISN’T looking to work in a positive meaningful culture? Who doesn’t want a rich and full experience in life? One of these days we’ll actually wake up and admit how little we know about human beings. With all our advances in science we still don’t get something so fundamental as purpose, meaning, joy, passion, abundance, and love. Work does not have to be seen as part of the ‘curse’ for original sin. And why does Happy Hour start ‘after’ work?

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 8 months ago

In 1954 Abraham Maslow published his Hierarchy of Human Needs, which is similar to Rebecca Ryan’s findings. Maslow refined and adapted his Hierarchy over the years, but the basic theory remains the same: after people’s survival requirements are satisfied, they look for self-fulfillment. Maslow’s theory was not restricted to people of a certain age group. Smart businesspeople always maximize opportunities for personal fulfillment in order to recruit, motivate, and retain the best people. In retailing, that’s not easy due to the needs for consistent customer experience, but some retailers strive to do it. They work with their employees’ initiatives and look for personal fulfillment opportunities. The best example: eBay. They’ve “employed” millions of people as suppliers and customers to work long hours, showing outstanding creativity and initiative.

Steve Anderson
Guest
Steve Anderson
15 years 8 months ago

I don’t necessarily think there will be a shortage of workers once the Baby Boomers retire. Keep in mind that there are as many — if not more, if you include immigrants — members in Generation Y just entering the workforce… about 80 million in all. Instead of shortages, I think there’s going to be more — not less — competition for jobs, just as there has been more competition for college admissions in recent years.

Having a “more supportive work environment” may have worked during the last 10-15 years when there were not as many entry-level workers (i.e., the “birth dearth” of Generation X), but I think it will become a buyer’s market for retailers, given more abundant labor.

Joseph Fedcamp
Guest
Joseph Fedcamp
15 years 7 months ago

Thank you all for sharing such wonderful insights. I’m glad that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs is noted above. It is quite apt for this discussion, although I do agree that it could be argued that many store-level employees are not having their survival requirements met. Throw any children into the situation and the argument is over.

But I don’t think we are here to argue about living wage. I think retail employees just see a sea of similar options, so they gravitate toward the best situation. And yes, they vote with their feet. I really like what Robert Dyer contributed about finding win-win situations, although I’m sure many of you are saying, “Easier said than done.” But if done well, I think there are enormous opportunities.

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