The following are excerpts to the question below by visitors to TB's Web site, www.tirebusiness.com.
Question: As newcomers to the workforce, are today's young people different than previous generations?
The Nov. 20 issue contained an article headlined "Dealing with Gen-X will be key to hiring."
Agewise, I'm on the front end of Gen-X and some statements in the article struck a chord with me (e.g. children of divorce, parents "downsized" from jobs they held for 20 years, latchkey kids—fiercely independent by necessity).
I had six employers in 10 years before striking out on my own a decade ago. Each failed to retain me for the same reasons.
Many 'X-ers come from broken or dysfunctional homes. They can smell isolation 10 miles away. If they sense their employer could do just as well without them, it's only a matter of time until they move on.
Yes, many want much more compensation than can be justified. However, they grew up in a culture that glamorized wealth and were given their own Nintendos and TV sets so their parents could pursue wealth and pay the bills. They probably know someone who became a millionaire before age 30—and they want their wealth on the same time-scale.
We all know those workers are not going to become millionaires by changing tires (at least not in the next five years). But money is not the key to retaining them anyway.
What I most desperately wanted as an employee was to see some of my ideas given consideration and actually implemented.
Many Gen-Xers don't feel like they belonged to a family and still are seeking a sense of belonging. They're not looking for a pat on the back, they're looking for a family.
As an employer, you are going to have to pick up the ball their parents dropped 30 years ago. You need to show Gen-X employees on a continuing basis how they are benefiting your company and how their efforts will benefit them.
A financial bonus is good, but ownership is better. That doesn't necessarily mean ownership of your company, but ownership of some area of responsibility. Over time, their responsibilities must grow and they need to know how that will benefit their career and finances.
Ask Gen-X employees what their interests are. Ask them to build or maintain a Web site for your business. What's most annoying to a Gen-Xer is to see you outsource a task they know how to do and would love the chance to tackle.
To retain an 'Xer, you have to tap his or her strengths and show them how important they are to your business.
MPC Solutions Inc.
Young people today have an 8-to-5-only attitude: "How much vacation do I get? What paid benefits? How many coffee breaks are allowed and why do I have to sweep the floors?"
But what's so different? This sounds like workers in the Akron rubber shops during the 1950s and '60s. Where are those shops now?
People are no different today....
Equipment Supply Co. (ESCO)
As an employer, I try to maintain a balance between older and younger workers.
However, many younger workers seem to lack workplace skills—such as pride in their work, punctuality, attendance and consideration for co-workers and the company they work for.
Due to these factors, the average age of our work force is creeping higher and higher....
Retread plant manager
Frasier Tire Service Inc.
Goose Creek, S.C.