past. Executives talk about “bench strength” issues and say, “We
can’t develop leaders for the organization because we can’t seem
to keep the people we want to keep.” And typically they say that
people are leaving out of simple greed, which management sup-
posedly can’t do anything about, so it is out of their hands. But is
that an accurate assessment of the situation? Are employees’ re-
quests so unreasonable that an organization can’t be expected to
pay attention to them? Is money truly the bottom line for people
looking for other jobs, or are other issues equally important?
To address this question, as part of our study we asked people,
What does your organization need to do to retain you as a com-
mitted employee?
Research
We received 2,732 responses to our question. Silents made up 8%
of the responses, 28% came from Early Boomers, 30% from Late
Boomers, 30% from Early Xers, and 4% from Late Xers. Figures
8.1 and 8.2 illustrate the responses sorted by generation and by or-
ganizational level, respectively.
ITSASEASY TO RETAIN A YOUNG PERSON AS AN OLDER ONE 147
© The New Yorker Collection 1997 Bernard Schoenbaum, from cartoonbank.com. All rights reserved.
Deal.c08 10/10/06 3:39 PM Page 147
The primary categories of responses, in order of frequency,
were as follows:
Issues with the career and job:
Advancement and opportunity. Desire for advancement, upward
mobility, growth in position, changing roles, and promotion.
Learning, development, challenge. Wants to be kept challenged,
interested, engaged, motivated, and energized through
148 RETIRING THE GENERATION GAP
Figure 8.1. Responses to the Question, “What Does
Your Organization Need to Do to Retain You as
a Committed Employee?” by Generation.
Silents
Early Boomers
Overall
Late Boomers
Early Xers
Late Xers
Career and job
Continue,
doing well
Compensation
Values
Business itself
Quality of life
Communication
Work itself
0
Percentage of respondents
605040302010
Deal.c08 10/10/06 3:39 PM Page 148
education, training, on-the-job learning, or any other
venue. Asks for increased responsibility.
Respect, recognition, acknowledgment, appreciation. Appreciation
for rewards in other forms besides pay.
Resources, other support. Demand to have what is needed to
do the work (including the resources or technology I need
to be effective).
Continue. The organization should keep doing what its doing
and let me keep doing what Im doing. This category also in-
cluded positive statements that indicated that peoples needs
were currently being met.
ITSASEASY TO RETAIN A YOUNG PERSON AS AN OLDER ONE 149
Figure 8.2. Responses to the Question, What Does
Your Organization Need to Do to Retain You as a
Committed Employee? by Organizational Level.
Top and Executive
Upper managemen
t
Management
Professional
Career and job
Continue,
doing well
Compensation
Values
Business itself
Quality of life
Communication
Work itself
0
Percentage of respondents
605040302010
Deal.c08 10/10/06 3:39 PM Page 149
Better compensation. Including higher salary, better benets, big-
ger bonus, better perks, bigger pension, more school reim-
bursement, pay for school or training, more stock options.
Stop reducing benets, and understand that cost of living
adjustments arent enough of a reward.
Values. Wants the organization to express its values and match
the employees values. (In other words, I dont want to nd out
Im working for the next Enron.) Specic requests for better or-
ganizational standards, more and better vision, a better job envi-
ronment, and less stress and more creativity in the workplace.
The business itself. What the organization should do as a business or
organization, including taking care of business, organizational
change, innovation, and better management and leadership.
Better quality of life. Desire for balance, time, exibility, better
schedules, more family time, more holiday and vacation time,
and the opportunity to take the time.
Better communication. Included people asking to be kept in-
formed, to be listened to, and to be given feedback.
Improvements to the work itself. These included references to a
desire for more autonomy, control, input, authority, and a
greater contribution within their specic job.
Because many responses covered more than one topic, they
were often coded into more than one category. For example, all of
the following responses would have been coded into more than one
category, because each of them talks about more than one issue:
Keep good benefits [and] health insurance,
and improve pay and appreciation.
—Silent
Pay me, train me, offer interesting work.
—Early Boomer
Provide some sort of rewards (that is, monetary,
travel, added responsibilities) for a job well done.
—Late Boomer
Offer challenging positions/projects;
remain competitive with market salaries.
—Early Xer
Ask for and listen to my input, and
compensate my work with adequate pay.
—Late Xer
150 RETIRING THE GENERATION GAP
Deal.c08 10/10/06 3:39 PM Page 150

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