Category Archives: HR leadership

HR at Humana Learns by Listening

Earlier this week, I stumbled upon a press release summarizing a recent Employee Benefit Research Institute report.

In the 2015 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey, the Washington-based organization found the percentage of workers reporting they are satisfied with the health benefits they currently receive has fallen from 74 percent to 66 percent between the years 2012 and 2015.

This is just a guess, but I have a hunch Humana Inc. employees were not among the 1,500 workers who EBRI polled for its study.

Last week, I attended a session at HRE’s Health & Benefits Leadership Conference, led by Humana’s Tim State, who serves as the Louisville, Ky.-based Medicare provider and health insurer’s vice president of human resources. Over the course of that informative hour, State discussed how HR leaders at Humana have embraced the “experience group” research methodology both to gain insight into the unmet health needs of its roughly 52,000 employees and to design a benefits program that helps them better meet those needs.

“It’s only from the associates’ point[s] of view that we can understand their health challenges,” he said. “It’s not about just having a Q&A session. It’s about having a real conversation around employees’ experience[s] with health benefits.”

Humana’s experience groups, according to State, typically consist of five to eight employees, who, along with a facilitator from the Humana HR function, convene for 60 to 90 minutes in an effort “to get across the idea that [our employees are] the experts [on their lives and health needs]. The facilitator really just kind of gets out of the way.”

Topics include obstacles that employees face on the path to better health, and, together, these experience groups and the HR team brainstorm ways to clear these hurdles.

What State and his colleagues in HR have heard from these experience groups has certainly been instructive, he said.

One employee, for instance, mentioned in a group session that work is actually “one of the biggest challenges to my health,” citing the combination of daily job-related stress and the often-sedentary lifestyle of the office employee.

Meanwhile, another female employee pointed out that the office dress code deterred her from walking more while at work, noting that going up a few flights of stairs isn’t always so easy in a pencil skirt.

State and his colleagues in HR have taken action in response to such comments, changing dress codes and introducing benefits that encourage prevention and provide more chronic-condition support, for instance.

Such adjustments—even small ones—have reaped almost immediate rewards, said State, adding that Humana’s experience groups have only been meeting for approximately 12 months.

For example, the organization has seen a 21-percent jump in employees’ use of preventive services offered by the company and has seen medication adherence increase by more than 10 percent. In addition, four out of 10 Humana employees report that they’ve improved their health by cutting down on physically risky behaviors, said State.

Making such changes has given employee engagement a boost as well, with Humana ranking in the top 10th percentile of the IBM Kenexa WorldNorms database for “world-class associate engagement” for the past four years, he added.

Such results—which have been realized in the space of one year— should be heartening for HR leaders at other large companies as well, said State.

“[Humana] is a Fortune 100, 50,000-plus employee organization,” he said. “Change can happen in an organization that size.”

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Mercer: People Risks Can Undermine Mergers

Last year saw a veritable “merger tsunami,” including health-insurance giant Anthem’s proposed $47 billion acquisition of rival Cigna Corp., chemical giants Dow and DuPont becoming one and Dell’s announcement that it would acquire EMC. The trend is expected to continue through 2016, as low interest rates and volatile capital markets spur companies to grow via mergers and acquisitions.

A failure to address people issues can lead to a merger's unraveling.

Failing to address people issues may lead to a merger’s unraveling.

Mergers can and do go wrong, however, and one of the most volatile components are the people, especially the talented and experienced ones necessary for making it work in the first place. This risk is magnified when the necessary planning for employee retention, cultural integration, leadership assessment and compensation/benefits is given short shrift. However, in its first-ever People Risks in M&A Transactions report, Mercer finds that corporate leaders are being given less time than ever to properly address these risks.

The report finds that 41 percent of buyers report less time to complete due diligence compared to three years ago, while 33 percent say sellers are providing less information about assets for sale. Notably, more than one-third of sellers (34 percent) say more and more of their divestment resources are needed to address HR issues.

For buyers and sellers alike, a plan for clear and consistent communication is necessary for minimizing disruption, says Mercer. Beyond that, the companies doing the buying should use skills inventories and competency assessments to gauge the capabilities of leadership teams and key employees on factors such as their ability to govern, lead people and drive cultural change.

Buyers also need to “adopt an enterprise or global view” to effectively manage benefits, the report finds, and develop effective retention strategies for key stakeholder groups beyond the executive team during and after the transaction.

Sellers also need to identify critical employee groups and consider a retention program, says Mercer, and document a clear talent management/staffing plan to establish the infrastructure of the entity being sold and determine which employees will stay and which will join the new organization.

“The people risks highlighted in our report are clearly part of our conversations with the deal community here in the [United States],” says Mercer’s Chuck Moritt, North American multinational client leader. “The good news is that both buyers and sellers are fully realizing the urgent need to address them in a thorough and thoughtful manner.”

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Uncovering a Six-Year Ditch in Spain

If an employee doesn’t show up to work for six years and no one notices, was the employee really that essential in the first place?

City officials in Cadiz, Spain are left to ponder this existential riddle after determining that Joaquin Garcia—a 69-year-old civil servant who was thought to be supervising the construction of a water treatment plant—was AWOL from his job for more than half a decade before being found out.

As if that wasn’t wacky enough, the way in which this serial slacker’s ruse was eventually discovered is almost too good to be true.

As USA Today reports, the water company thought that Garcia’s position was within the purview of the Cadiz city council, while city officials were under the impression that Garcia reported to leadership at the water company.

Amid this confusion, it seems his extreme absenteeism somehow went almost completely undetected, and apparently didn’t faze those at the water company who happened to notice that Garcia hadn’t been to work in a really, really long time. One manager, for example, even admitted to “not having seen Garcia for years, despite having an office across from him,” according to the paper.

Still, seeing Garcia’s workspace sit unoccupied for years on end evidently didn’t alarm this co-worker (or any of Garcia’s other colleagues?) enough to raise any concerns.

No, the jig was only up when deputy mayor Jorge Blas arrived to present Garcia with an award for—of all things—his 20 years of “loyal and dedicated service” to the city in 2010.

Garcia, of course, was nowhere to be found.

“[I wondered], is he still there? Has he retired? Has he died? But the payroll showed he was still receiving a salary,” Blas recently told media outlets. “I called him up and asked him, ‘What did you do yesterday? The month before, the month before that? He didn’t know what to say.”

An investigation was launched in short order, revealing that Garcia hadn’t been to his office in at least six years and had done “absolutely no work” between 2007 and 2010, according to USA Today. Legal action was taken against him in 2010. The case only concluded last week, with Garcia being fined approximately $30,000.

Garcia, who retired in 2011, has written to the city’s mayor asking that the fine be waived, and has requested a review of the judgment, according to BBC News. Garcia also maintains that he didn’t simply stop coming to work, but was assigned to a post “where there was no work to do” after being bullied on the job for his socialist political leanings, the BBC reports.

Whatever precipitated Garcia’s … let’s call it an extended, unsanctioned vacation, the details uncovered by the subsequent investigation are almost inconceivable. It’s hard to imagine most companies allowing an employee—in this case, a supervisor!—to slip so far between the cracks that he or she could be virtually invisible for any period of time, let alone six years. But, if this far-flung story holds any lessons for the typical HR executive, maybe it’s as a cautionary (if highly improbable) tale that shows just what can happen when reporting structures are unclear and communication is lacking.

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Want Performers? Then Share Your Information

If you want your high-performing team members to really perform by participating in leadership decisions, then you’d better be giving 506554668 -- business meetingthem — or training your managers to give them — the information they need.

So says a recent study by researchers in China, published in the Academy of Management Journal.

According to that study’s report, “The Threshold Effect of Participative Leadership and the Role of Leader Information-Sharing,” released last year, there’s a certain performance threshold employees cross when bosses “openly share, discuss and communicate important information needed to make decisions and form judgments.”

Without the confidence that supervisors’ information-sharing fosters, the study suggests, employees may actually come to “hold a negative assessment of the leader’s participative action, interpreting it as a way to increase their workload and responsibilities with no reward.”

According to the authors, making such points is important because managers often assume “that a moderate degree of participative leadership may be enough to improve employees’ performance; this is a common phenomenon in organizations — participation is widely recognized [as valuable], but often done half-heartedly by managers.”

Earlier this week, I contacted Xu Huang, a researcher and professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University — and co-author of the study along with Catherine K. Lam of the City University of Hong Kong and Simon C.H. Chan of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University — asking for more specific takeaways for employers and HR, especially how leaders and managers can be trained to share, authentically instead of half-heartedly, more organizational information.

First off, he tells me, the differences between participative leadership and information-sharing are important to note. Based on years of research into these behaviors, he says, participative leaders encourage team members to express ideas and suggestions, they listen to those ideas and suggestions, they use those suggestions to make decisions affecting the entire organization, they give all group members a chance to voice opinions and they consider all team ideas even when they disagree with them.

On the other hand, he says, information-sharers “explain company decisions; company goals; how the team fits into the overall organization; the purposes of company policies, rules and expectations; and his or her decisions and actions.” This open sharing, he adds, doesn’t necessarily have to include sensitive information, just “organizational practices and decisions that may affect the employees and groups.”

There are ways HR professionals can train managers to show more openness and share company information without giving away the store, he says. Behavioral psychologists can even help with this. The problem is, not enough employers recognize this or do anything about it. More often than not, says Xu Huang:

“Managers show openness to different views and opinions from their subordinates, but fail to provide sufficient explanations for companies’ strategies, policies, rules and decisions that may affect employees. As such, employees may not feel that they’re being treated with full transparency and they see such leaders as less effective [and] may not be motivated to enhance their performance. Similarly, managers may offer a lot of information, yet fail to show openness.”

The trick is in combining the two, he says:

“Our key argument is that, if a manager wants his or her employees to perceive him or her as an effective leader, he or she must show a moderate-to-high level of participative leadership as well as a high level of information sharing. A low-to-moderate level of participative leadership behavior will give the impression that the participative leader is ‘half-hearted.’ Similarly, a high level of participative leadership yet low level of information sharing will [also] give the ‘half-heartedness’ impression.”

Probably a bit complex and maybe academically obscure, but worth thinking about if your goal is enhancing performance.

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Maersk Goes Global with New Maternity Benefits

You might say the parental-benefits bandwagon has just charged into the world arena. Copenhagen, Denmark-based Maersk Group 505017852--pregnancyannounced recently that, starting April 4, it will be implementing a new global guaranteed 18-weeks-minimum, fully paid maternity leave  for all its female employees.

Worldwide, the maternity policy would affect more than 23,000 employees. Once implemented in the United States, it will boost the current six-weeks leave to 18 for more than 1,200 women. It will also improve terms for women working for Maersk in at least 51 countries.

In addition, it will include a return-to-work program, giving onshore employees the opportunity to work 20 percent fewer hours at full contractual pay within the first year of birth or adoption.

“This new policy supports our aim to retain our talents and attract even more in the future — this way, strengthening our business results,” says Michael White, president and CEO of Maersk Line North America.

Maersk Line’s Asia Pacific Chief Robbert Van Trooijen, in a recent story on Seanews.com, says the new policy “supports our aim to retain the talented women working in the group and attract even more to gain access to future and wider talent pools … .”

The move was predicated on research conducted for Maersk by New York-based KPMG suggesting maternity-leave policies have an influence on the labor-market participation by contributing to higher employement rates of women.

The move doesn’t mark a first in the recent march by large, big-name companies to enhance parental-leave benefits in an effort to boost retention, reputation and employer brand. A search of this HRE Daily site yields numerous posts about this march, some might say race, to board the parental-leave bandwagon. So too does a search of HRE‘s website, HREOnline.com.

So will there be more bandwagon jumpers globally, what with Maersk leading the charge? I put this question to Kenneth Matos, senior director of research for the New York-based Families and Work Institute. What he had to say is worth sharing, particularly as it applies to HR leaders:

“I do believe that more multinationals will be pursuing improved maternity-leave and other benefits policies. One, because centralized and standardized benefits programs are easier to manage than a grab bag of varied policies impacted by an array of international legal frameworks. Offering everyone a high-end multinational program is easier to manage, avoids lawsuits from accidentally violating a country’s laws with a policy legal in another country, and avoids organizational culture clashes as employees around the world compare their benefits.”

He goes on:

“I believe that a single, affordable, multinational benefits program is the holy grail of the benefits industry. Second, there has been a recent wave of organizations attempting to outdo each other on employee benefits. The battle for talent is reigniting as the predicted retirement boom begins to pick up steam — reducing the size of the workforce –and more jobs require uncommon skills that take years of education or experience to cultivate — a major problem for a shrinking labor force.

“Organizations will want to be seen as leaders and many HR executives and benefits teams should prepare for calls from senior executives to benchmark their benefits programs against their competitors.  It is essential for HR executives to keep cool heads and examine their benefits in terms of what their people want and need rather than offering extensive benefits just to make a social or political statement. Especially if the organizational or local  cultures will suppress the usage of these elaborate offerings or interest will wane over time and leaders might call for a reversal if the benefits structure doesn’t work for their organization and staff.”

Sounds like advice worth heeding, or at least considering.

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Pay for Performance is Given a Poor Grade

Money on hand.

Money on hand.

Employers have long embraced the notion of paying for performance. But are these programs really making a difference? Are they really leading to better employee performance?

If we’re to believe the latest survey of 150 companies coming out of Willis Towers Watson, the impact these efforts are having on organizations leaves something to be desired.

According to the Arlington, Va.-based consultancy, the vast majority of North American employers say their pay-for-performance programs are falling short when it comes to driving individual performance.

Moreover, the survey finds that only one in five companies (20 percent) find merit pay to be effective at driving higher levels of individual performance at their organizations. Further, just under one-third (32 percent) report their merit-pay programs are effective at differentiating pay based on individual performance.

Nor are employers the only ones giving these programs low marks. Only about half of employees say these programs are effective at boosting individual performance levels; and even fewer (47 percent) believe annual incentives effectively differentiate pay based on how well employees perform.

Why the low marks?

Part of the reason is employers are either trapped in a business-as-usual approach or suffering from a me-too mentality when it comes to their programs, according to Laura Sejen, global practice leader for rewards at Willis Towers Watson.

Sejen elaborates …

“Pay-for-performance programs, when designed and implemented effectively, are great tools to drive performance, and recognize and reward employees. However, conventional thinking on pay for performance is no longer appropriate. Companies need to define what performance means for their organization[s] and how managers can ensure they are driving the right performance, and re-evaluate the objectives of their reward programs to ensure they are aligned with that definition.”

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of those surveyed say managers at their organization consider the knowledge and skills required in an employee’s current role when making merit-increase decisions, according to the study. That compares to fewer than half (46 percent) who say their programs are designed to take these performance indicators into consideration.

The Willis Towers Watson findings probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to those in HR, since they echo the findings of other studies we’ve reported on in the past.

Roughly a year ago, for instance, we reported on research by Organizational Capital Partners and the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute that found 80 percent of S&P 1500 companies are not measuring the right metrics, over the right period of time, for performance-based executive compensation.

So what’s the key takeaway here? Well, if we’re to believe the research, it’s the fact that employers clearly have a lot more work to do when it comes to pay for performance—and no one knows this better than the companies themselves.

But, of course, knowing and doing something about it are two entirely different things.

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Xerox’s Move to Split Into Two

The spin-offs keep spinning.

Friday’s announcement by Xerox that it will separate into two entities caps a lot of spin-off activity of late. This latest, as announced here on USA Today‘s website, will 504855042--splitseparate the office-equipment giant into two companies, an $11-billion document-technology company and a $7 billion business-services company.

The company says the transaction into two independent publicly-traded companies is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

These “significant actions … define the next chapter of our company,” Chairman and CEO Ursula Burns told the paper in a conference call Friday morning.

This certainly underscores the spin-off mania that Will Bunch’s September cover story in HRE, “Split Decision,” alluded to. His focus, of course, was on the impact these mega-transactions are having on human resource departments and their leaders. As his piece puts it:

“Most of the headlines over the big, high-profile spin-offs — the Hewlett-Packard split, eBay and PayPal, General Electric and its credit-card unit Synchrony Financial, Time-Warner and its publishing unit Time, Sears and Land’s End — have focused on what the moves could mean for investors. But when they say — as in the words of the old Neil Sedaka song — that “breaking up is hard to do,” in the business world they’re probably talking about the HR department.

“Indeed, much of the heavy lifting for these spin-offs — deciding who stays with the old company and who goes, filling vacancies and new positions, making critical decisions about pay and benefits, and fostering employee enthusiasm and answering anxious questions while developing a new, unique culture at the spin-off — falls upon HR executives.”

Although early reports don’t include specifics about the impact this division will have on Xerox’s HR function — now functions, no doubt — Burns did tell the paper that the two post-split companies will be “more flexible, more responsive and essentially more fit and focused for the market that we are attacking.”

The report also notes Xerox’s 140,000 employees worldwide will be divided up thusly: About 104,000 will be part of the business-services outsourcing company and the other 40,000 will make up the document-technology company.

It will be interesting to see how this latest in the spin-off string plays out, especially as it relates to HR. As Bunch notes in his story:

“HR executives who’ve worked through the spin-off process say the biggest personnel changes don’t usually affect the operating infrastructure of two companies — manufacturing and sales, for example — because those functions tend to stay largely intact. It’s a different story, they say, with shared services and in the corporate offices.”

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CEO Turnover vs. CEO Tenure: Two Takes

Interesting, somewhat divergent reports on CEO longevity appeared recently from some big-name research consultancies. 178083845--CEOsuccessionOne, a study from Equilar compiled for CNNMoney, shows tenure for S&P 500 CEOs has increased nearly a full year since 2005. As the CNN report states,

A decade ago, CEOs typically spent five years at the helm of one of America’s top 500 publicly traded companies. It might seem like a small increase, but it’s a notable shift from the Great Recession and financial crisis when a lot of executives got fired. Those who survived — or came on board in the new wave — are keeping their posts.

In fact, more specifically, according to Equilar’s report on the study it performed, “in 2014, the average S&P 500 CEO had served an average of 7.4 years, and 6.0 at the median. Ten years ago, those figures were 6.6 and 5.2, respectively.”

Equilar claims there’s “one simple explanation” for the rising average: a collection of long-standing CEOs at the top of the list, people like Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, who’s held his post for 45 years, and L Brands’ Leslie Wexner, who sits at the top of the list with 52 years at his company. As soon as these top guns start to retire, you’ll see the average tenures start to fall, says Equilar.

But for now, they’re a full year higher than they were a decade ago.

Juxtapose that with the latest report from Challenger Gray & Christmas, as reported in the Center Valley Business Times — showing a jump in CEO departures toward the end of 2015. Specifically, December CEO exits were 33 percent higher than the 86 changes in November and 7 percent higher than the 107 CEO departures in December 2014.

(Despite the December surge, though, the yearly total of 1,221 CEO departures in 2015 was 9 percent lower than the 1,341 departures in 2014, according to the Challenger report.)

So are CEOs staying or going? Hard to say.

But whatever the numbers tell us, this post can also serve as a reminder that it’s never too early to put your best foot forward in devising the best CEO-succession plan for your organization. This post by me almost two years ago suggested then there was still much improvement needed in this area. (That March 2014 post also shows a decline in CEO turnover at the start of that year.)

At least we can say, with CEO turnover holding fairly steady and tenure on the rise, there’s some time, at least, to get succession at the top post right.

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How Favoritism-Free Do You Really Want to Be?

Here’s an interesting question for you to ponder on Martin Luther King Day, posed in this piece by Simma Lieberman on the Workforce 478884006 -- hiring biasDiversity Network: “Before you spend your next dollar on unconscious-bias training, ask yourselves if you just want people to have a good day, [and] forget or not apply what they learn, or if you want ongoing change that will make you a benchmark organization and the employer of choice.”

Though she doesn’t exactly say the former is generally what happens in companies that espouse diversity transformations, it’s implied in her piece, How Can Unconscious Bias Training Go Wrong?

Basically, she says, if you really want to establish a meaningful and effective diversity and inclusion culture without favoritism, one that results in “breakthrough innovation, [you need to instill] transformation at every level, risk-taking and the willingness to be uncomfortable.”

And that starts at the top, she says: “The CEO and other people on the executive team need to be the first ones to learn about unconscious bias and how it impacts their leadership behavior. We have our clients take the Implicit Association Test from Harvard, to be aware of their own biases. Transformation begins at the top and doesn’t stop!”

In her helpful numbered list of ways to add value to unconscious-bias training, Lieberman also stresses the need to “involve and seek input from people who manage all levels of the recruiting process. They need to be aware of their unconscious bias in the whole hiring process from where and how they recruit, how they write the job description, how they conduct the interview, and ways in which they develop rapport,” she writes.

Which reminds me of a piece I posted last Martin Luther King Day,  “Favoritism is No Friend of Diversity.” In it, Kansas City Star writer Michelle T. Johnson gets at the heart of just how insidious and nebulous favoritism is among managers and HR leaders when they’re making personnel decisions:

“What does favoritism even look like? Favoritism is usually about choice. In some workplaces, the work and the people who do it don’t have much variance in how the work is done and who does it. However, in other workplaces, work decisions are made frequently — assignments, shifts, territories, days off. With most decisions come subjective judgments. Every industry and workplace is so different, yet everyone can probably relate to some area of the job that bosses influence [subjectively] at least weekly.

“People are quick to defend their decisions, saying they base them on the best person to do the job. But over time, what conditions have you created to allow, for example, one person to inevitably do the job better than another? And if that has happened, what is the reason? Is it that the person reminds you of yourself or has similar interests, or because the person has a personality you find easier to get along with?”

Dave Kipe, chief operating officer for New York-based ABCO HVACR Supply + Solutions, who describes himself as “passionate about leadership behavior and the impact it can have in our workplace and our lives,” got back to me after that favoritism post, underscoring the need for business leaders to be more “self-aware and conscious of their implicit behavior [and bias-tinged] body language.” He calls their failures in this regard a “pitfall many leaders fall into, but don’t even acknowledge exists.”

I reached out to him about Lieberman’s post as well, considering how closely intertwined unconscious bias and favoritism are. He had a lot to say:

“I think most of us have this inflated self-perception that we are unconditionally ethical and perfectly unbiased. We are confident in our decision-making abilities and proud that we are ‘great judges of people.’ However, research has shown that’s simply not true.

“In Lieberman’s case in point, the employees embraced the ‘unconscious bias’ training, but the company didn’t sustain that focus; therefore, nothing changed. Her point that ‘there is an unconscious — and sometimes conscious — bias that people at the lower levels don’t need to be involved or won’t understand the new culture’ really resonated with me. Company leaders must engage the entire organization and drop the narcissistic attitude that employees are just too dumb or too ignorant to understand.

“Unconscious bias in the workplace is seldom discussed, but it’s impact is deep and, if uncontrolled, it can be destructive. Training is a critical component of creating a culture of inclusion, but it’s money and time wasted if not supported by the organization.”

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Capturing the Gen Z Zeitgeist

By the time any new generation enters the workforce, employers and experts have already twisted themselves into knots trying to figure out what makes these young workers tick, and what makes them happy.

Perhaps no cohort has been dissected more thoroughly than millennials, a group that many estimates predict will comprise as much as 75 percent of the workforce by the year 2025.

For example, we’ve heard (ad nauseam) about Gen Y workers’ nomadic tendencies, their preference to converse via email, IM, text message or just about any means other than face-to-face communication, and the underdeveloped people skills they possess as a result of this reliance on technology.

Naturally, such broad characterizations can’t be applied to every employee in a given generation, but, for better or worse, these are some of the common perceptions surrounding millennial-age workers.

And it’s those perceptions that make some of the data found in a new Institute for Corporate Productivity white paper focusing on Generation Z—defined by i4cp as those born between 1995 and 2012—all the more interesting.

(Click here for more background on the white paper, which is available for download to i4cp members.)

It’s easy—especially for a cynical, closing-in-fast-on-middle-age Gen Xer like me—to assume that each successive generation of workers will have a lesser sense of loyalty to their employers, or will become that much more dependent on technology at the expense of actual, personal interaction, for example.

But, judging from the input i4cp gathered from a focus group of 600 high school seniors, making such assumptions about Gen Z would be way off the mark.

For instance, 60 percent of the aforementioned students said they would like to stay with one company for more than 10 years, with another 31 percent saying they’d like to stick with the same organization for 20-plus years.

Or, consider that eight in 10 of these youngsters indicated that they prefer in-person communication (!), and 37 percent said they believe technology has a negative impact on people skills.

These same respondents seem to suggest an independent streak runs through Gen Z as well, with half saying they would prefer to have their own private work area as opposed to an “open concept” office or shared workspace. In fact—and I’m not sure how or why this very specific scenario was presented to participants—35 percent of the high school seniors surveyed said they would sooner share socks than an office space.

Organizational leaders such as those in HR are “at a critical crossroads” with respect to the multiple generations that make up their workforces, including Generation Z, the white paper notes.

Indeed, employers are already faced with trying to capture the knowledge of the millions of baby boomers creeping up on retirement age, and grooming Gen X- and Gen Y-age workers to fill the leadership void that will be created when those boomers leave, as the paper points out.

In addition, “employers are still grappling with millennials’ perceived sense of entitlement and knowing that they still always have one foot out the door,” according to the white paper authors. “Reacting to these gaps will be paramount to the success of businesses large and small.”

Organizations cannot shift into “reactive mode,” the authors continue, “lest a whole new set of gaps will develop and perhaps push them to the breaking point. But the reality is that Gen Z is already showing up, and leaders need to decide if they want to be prepared to welcome them (and [whether] they want to be ahead of the curve or not).”

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