When I read something that says millennials want more work-life balance, I think, “gee, I’m a GenXer, and I want that too.” Or, they say millennials want to find meaning in their work. Well, so do I. My dad, who is thirty years older than me, and a Boomer wished for those things too.
I’m not saying things have not changed. Norms in the workplace sure have shifted. I remember my dad heading off to work in a suit and tie. Ladies were required to wear 2″ heels in my first job. Besides dancing with the Rockettes, I do not know of too many careers that require uncomfortable footwear anymore. Today there are more work-from-home-types, and we can sit at our computers in our fuzzy-bunny slippers.
Our environment has changed, as well. My dad and his colleagues typed memos. Most asynchronous communication during the first half of my career was via email. Today many corporations have instant messaging platforms. Long lunches still happened when I first started working. Now everyone works at a break-neck pace, lamenting that there are never enough hours in the day.
Everything outside of us in the workplace is changing. But what people want is the same.
Professionals want to:
- Solve problems
- Make friends
- Be respected
- Have fun
- Do meaningful work
- Continually improve
Are people in the different generations all that different? Fundamentally no.
But attracting and retaining younger members is a real issue for associations. Is this a generational thing? Or is this an environmental thing? I vote for the environment. Our environment has shifted so much that the typical association structure does not serve new members well. New members don’t have the time or the luxury of attention.
When we optimize our organizations to engage new and young members, we will find that the platforms, systems, and benefits that we developed will be appreciated by all members no matter their age or career stage.