Monday, February 9, 2009

Management Expert, Consultant & Author Richard Anthony Sees Four Generations at War in the Workforce

The US workforce may be on the verge of an historic clash as four distinctly different demographic groups compete for jobs, pay, benefits and opportunities for advancement.

"For the first me in history, we have four, and some people argue five, generations in the workforce - the Traditionals, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y," says Richard J. Anthony, Sr., author of the new book, Organizations, People & Effective Communication. "The normal stresses in the workplace are being exacerbated by the fact that the leading edge of the 79 million Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 are not moving out of the workforce as expected. Because of lifestyle preference or financial necessity, Boomers in large numbers are trying to hang on to their paychecks and their health care benefits, blocking the career paths of younger employees and putting pressure on employers' payroll and benefits costs."

In a chapter titled "Bridging the Great Divide among Four Generations," Anthony writes: "The underlying trend lines that will ensure intergenerational conflict for at least the next 20 to 25 years have finally captured the attention of researchers, social scientists, government and corporate policy makers. Most seem to agree that simply tweaking existing policies won't be enough. We need new approaches to managing divergent generations and to supporting 79 million Boomers who will be transitioning to the third stage of their lives over the next 30 years. We need a new vocabulary to redefine words like work, career, success, retirement and quality of life. Words like 'senior' and 'mature adult' are resented and irrelevant because they have been code for 'old.' Although late in coming, awareness of the need for change in the way different stages of life are perceived is becoming a daily topic of discussion and debate. Solutions, however, will be hard to come by."

Anthony, a consultant with more than 35 years of experience in human resource management and organizational effectiveness, is the founder and managing director of The Solutions Network, Inc., a management consulting firm. He recently moderated a WHYY forum on Boomer entrepreneurs and an AARP convening of business, education and government leaders on the aging workforce in Pennsylvania. He also teaches a course at Villanova University titled "Managing the Aging Workforce." He was cofounder of, a website for the 73 million grandparents in the US, about half of whom are Baby Boomers, and is on the board of advisors of five companies that provide products and services to the aging population.

Intergenerational clashes in the workforce can be averted, Anthony asserts. "It will require management and labor to close the book on more than 50 years of employee and labor relations and adopt new rules of engagement between employers and employees. Managing the intergenerational workforce requires employers to do a better job of forecasting their staffing needs, developing competency models, redesigning their pay and benefits programs, introducing job sharing and mentoring programs, investing in training and retraining, and designing career paths that match the profiles of younger employees whose aspirations are different from their older coworkers. I realize that this is a tough message for employers who are struggling because of the economy. On the other hand, when the economy recovers, employers will still be challenged by intergenerational issues they have never experience before."

About Richard J. Anthony, Sr.

In addition to his consulting, Anthony is an entrepreneur, speaker, educator and TV host. He is founder of The Entrepreneurs Network, a venue for aspiring and serial entrepreneurs and accredited angel investors. He is a member of the adjunct faculty at Villanova University where he teaches courses in Organizational and Leadership Communication, Entrepreneurialism and Managing the Aging Workforce. In 2007, he co-authored a chapter in a book titled After Sixty: Marketing to Baby Boomers Reaching Their Big Transition Years. He is currently leading a project for the Delaware County Community Foundation to provide easy, multimedia access to county residents 50+ and their families to information about volunteerism, lifelong learning and employment.

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