Jim Krumel: The end of work as we know it

By Jim Krumel

February 17, 2014

Here’s a stat that might shock you.

By 2015 — that’s next year — the majority of the United States workforce will be in their 20s.

In other words, get in the back seat of the car, baby boomers. You’re no longer driving the American workforce. For business owners, understanding who is now behind the wheel will go a long way toward determining their future success.

The above statistic came from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Labor. Putting it into perspective for an Ohio Newspaper Association convention crowd was Sarah Sladek, a nationally recognized expert on the unique characteristics of Generations X, Y and Z.

What motivates a baby boomer is quite different than what floats the boat of Generation Y.

Here’s how Sladek described the two generations:

Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. They are loyal, work-centric and cynical. This generation has lived through many changes, and often equates salaries and long hours with success and commitment to the workplace. They value face time in the office and may not welcome work flexibility or work/life balance trends. High levels of responsibility, perks, praise and challenges motivates this generation. Next year, these 50- to 68-year-olds will occupy 30 percent of the workforce.

Ahead of them will be Generation Y, which consists of those born between 1982 and 1995. Also known as the millennials, these 19- to 32-year-olds will represent 39 percent of the workforce next year. This generation was raised on technology.

“They put access to technology on the same level as oxygen and freedom,” Sladek said.

They are excellent multitaskers and prefer communications through email and text messaging over face-to-face interaction.

This group is creative, optimistic, achievement-oriented and needs to be praised.

As Sladek said, “This generation has always been protected. When they played sports, not just one or two people received a trophy, everyone walked away with a trophy.”

Sladek also points out the following about Generation Y:

•Three out of 5 Gen Ys in college want to find a job where they can work remotely.

•Sixty percent of Gen Ys in the workforce feel they don’t make enough money.

•Nearly 60 percent of Generation Y has switched careers at least once already.

•Only one-third of Gen Ys say their current job is their career.

•Forty-three percent of Gen Y think they could easily find another job if they lost their current one.

In fewer than 10 years, nearly half the working population will be Generation Y, the Department of Labor reported.

This shift in workforce demographics is coming at a time when 75 percent of employed Americans are looking for jobs, Sladek’s research showed.

Employers soon will be entering a period that will see them in a heated battle for talent, Sladek predicted. If a company is to be a destination site for talented workers, she said it cannot ignore the needs, desires and attitudes of Generation Y.

“This generation wants an employer to engage their minds and hearts,” Sladek said. “They want to know they belong, that they have a sense of ownership. They don’t want to be told what to do; they want to have a dialogue.”

The companies that grasp that, she said, will be the ones that secure the most talented workforces.

ROSES AND THORNS: Do we hear a band tooting its horns in the rose garden?

Rose: To Dan Duncan, the director of the Delphos St. John’s Alumni Band, and its nearly 20 members. The band has performed in more than 200 games and played for the last time at Thursday night’s St. John’s girls basketball game.

Rose: To Bath girls basketball coach Greg Mauk, who secured his 300th career coaching win on Saturday. In 16 years, Mauk has a 300-80 record for an amazing .789 winning percentage.

Rose: To Brayden Truex, Taylor Miller and Cheyenne Skinner. The trio will be representing Lima along with 68 other Soap Box Derby champions at the Statehouse on Tuesday.

Rose: To Allen County Fair manager David Grimm, for securing country music legend Toby Keith as this year’s top entertainment act during the fair.

Rose: To American Township Police Chief Matt Redick and Elida school Superintendent Don Diglia. Both shared details openly and quickly concerning a student who brought knives to school and threatened a principal.

Rose: To the Potash Corp. and Lima West Middle School teacher Karen Young. Potash donated $23,000 so the school could buy 12 electronic whiteboards after being approached about the need from Young.

Thorn: To car owners whose vehicles remain parked on area streets under a pile of snow.

PARTING SHOT: We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.