Managing Talent Across Generations

This week I participated in an interesting panel at the 2008 National Human Capital Institute entitled, Attracting and Retaining the New Economy Workforce: Generation X and Y.

After a brief discussion of how generational differences can impact behavior in the workplace (see below), the focus of the panel was on what talent management executives can do about developing new practices for attraction and development of Generation Y, also known as Millennials or the Google Generation.

Generational differences that impact the workplace

Some suggestions to consider in thinking about adopting new practices for a multi-generation workplace include:

  • Learn how the marketing, operations and sales departments in your firm are using social media to attract and retain new customers. In many organizations, experimenting with new media happens outside of the human resources department. For example, in June 2006 Blue Shirt Nation was launched for Best Buy associates. This is a voluntary, open-source, corporate-sponsored social network site that operates outside of the corporate firewall and is moderated by its users. Currently there are 20,000 members of Blue Shirt Nation and it’s become a place for Blue Shirt associates to help each other solve retail store operation issues. It has become influential in affecting changes to the email policy, improving enrollments in the 401k program and setting up systems for employees to communicate between shifts. In terms of retention, the funder of Blue Shirt Nation claims that while company turnover rates hover around 60%, members of BSN have a turnover rate of just 8.5%.
  • Work with your talent management group to develop innovative ways for Net Generation X and Y’s to connect with one another while showcasing their creative abilities. One of the panelists, Leah Reynolds of Deloitte shared a YouTube clip from the Deloitte Film Festival. This is a contest run among Deloitte new hires where they make short films that express their vision of the firm’s culture and values. The best of these videos are posted to YouTube, check out my favorite, entitled, The Green Dot. It is about a Deloitte superhero who shows what’s its like to be a client services superhero for a day.
  • Finally, as you work with your teams to create new and innovative ways to attract, develop and motivate Net Generation X and Y’s be sure you take a business approach. Develop a business case for why your organization needs to look at newer alternative methods. Also define the target audience and, importantly, the results and metrics you are looking for in terms of increased retention and increased on-the-job performance.
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About Jeanne Meister

Jeanne C. Meister is a best selling author of three books, internationally recognized consultant and keynote speaker. Jeanne is Partner of Future Workplace, a consulting firm dedicated to assisting organizations in re-thinking, re-imagining and re-inventing the workplace. Jeanne was recently voted by her peers as one of the 20 top influential training professionals in the United States. Jeanne’s name is synonymous with the establishment and institutionalization of global corporate universities. Jeanne is the author of three books, Corporate Quality Universities and Corporate Universities. Jeanne’s latest book is, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (Harper Collins, 2010) is in its 10th printing.No information is provided by the author.


  1. Sebastian Nillson

    Wow Jeanne, great post. Some really interesting things to think about here. I found a blog post by Gary Koelling of Blue Shirt Nation that your readers might find interesting, he argues that BSN is a fluke and only works for Best Buy because of their unique corporate culture. Personally, I don’t but that argument. Keep up the good work. Here’s the link to the article-


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