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3 Ways to Address the Emotional Side of Career Planning Across Generational Lines

February 14, 2018
| ByMike Ryan

Career development and planning is considered a best practice at any organization that’s committed to their workers’ growth and longevity. Employees agree: 68% of them say that the clarity and encouragement they receive shapes their commitment over the long-term.

There are employee retention advantages linked to career planning conversations, whether or not they are formal or informal. In fact, a lack of dialogue, objective setting and/or reinforcement can result in an employee feeling frustrated and unvalued by the company.

Be it with sales professionals or across any of the other job functions that exist within a global enterprise, “career conversations” should be interactive, positive, and employee-specific. As they interact with their managers, employees should feel free to be open and honest about their own capabilities, aspirations and obstacles. In turn their managers should outline how the employee can prepare and progress.

That’s exactly where social recognition complements the career development process. With it, a manager can set specific growth objectives; he or she can identify skill gaps and then align the employee’s developmental needs with the company’s business plan.

In fact, social recognition has an extra edge. It can help managers do just that across employees of all generations. With multiple age groups contributing within the workplace it’s important to remember that the aspirations of Millennials, Gen Y, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers vary significantly. Here are 3 ways social recognition can help your managers address the emotional side of career planning across generational lines.

1/ By understanding that Millennials are explorers

At this stage of their careers, Millennials want to expand their horizons both professionally and personally. Using social recognition, managers can inspire them to “stretch” their goals while also encouraging them to build and develop relationships within the organization.

Social recognition can help younger workers branch out, find their passions and build supporting networks of coworkers and peers along the way. When you consider that 78% of Millennials say it’s more important to enjoy work (including the people you work with) than make a lot of money, the communal construct of social recognition is one of the strongest career path reinforcement tools around.      

2/ By giving Gen X and Gen Y employees the trust they crave

These employees have been working awhile. As they age, work life balance is not just a wish but a practical necessity. Their many obligations outside of work sometimes make them feel that their path forward is limited. Some feel overlooked and underappreciated. This group comes with a tradeoff, they are the most prepared to make an impact on your business, but they want your trust to do it their way.

Your recognition program should celebrate that these employees are capable, responsible and, above all, committed professionals. Without that reinforcement, competitors who offer a mixture of professional stature along with the flexibility to address expanding personal responsibilities may pick off your top contributors.  

3/ By showing Boomers you want them to stick around

Boomers are not really sure about retirement just yet. As thousands of them approach retirement age many are conflicted about leaving the workforce.

Some don’t have enough money saved to retire completely, others still get satisfaction from their work and the personal interactions it affords them. Many will want to stay on in some capacity and do so for years

Those inclined to stay will do so if they feel respected and appreciated. Using social recognition to remind them (as well as others within the organization) that their experience, insight, and willingness to share are valued by the company is consistent with managing their career planning process.


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