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With the book’s release earlier this October, there seems to be a question nagging all of us in the back of our minds…How does the US economic situation fit into all of this?

Magnuson said that there are four things to look keep in mind about how the economy is going to impact generations in the workforce:

1.       -Boomers will be staying longer than planned. What this means for companies is that there is a high risk of disengagement with Boomers who "retire on the job."

2.       -Xers will have to put off their own promotional aspirations with Boomers still holding leadership positions. The Xers have been waiting a long time and run the chance of becoming disgruntled as they ride out this economy.

3.       -Yers are clamoring to move up and will experience the same obstacles as the Xers, who in turn will switch to job-hopping if applicable.

4.       -Disengagement is the short-term issue every leader will need to think about. Long-term, however, companies will need to keep a pulse on the workforce. When the economy does pick up, Boomers will all retire at once (causing talent and financial drain), Xers and Yers may be attracted to higher-paying jobs in other companies, and the organization may be worse off than before the economic downturn.

The lesson seems to be that companies really need to plan for the long term, even if there are short-term challenges that may make foresight difficult.

Alexander said, "We may have more time to map out what the desired talent profile in a company will look like five or ten years from now, but if you aren’t planning for a whole new face of the workforce, your company will be in trouble. There are things that organizations will have to accept: leaders with less experience, employees willing to leave jobs after shorter times, and people prepared to move around frequently. "

Work with Me closes out with a chapter entitled "Face the Future with 2020 Vision." As part of this, Alexander and Magnuson encourage companies to host Workforce 2020 Exercises to aid in preparing for the future.

I had the opportunity to participate in one of these sessions with the authors and found it quite enlightening and empowering.  As a Gen-Yer, I express myself differently than many of my older colleagues, and this workshop gave us an opportunity to listen and learn from one another through the lens of generational differences.   I would highly recommend that companies not only hold one of these workshops themselves (the directions are in the book), but have regular check-ins among the generations in your organization.

As we move into the future, more questions will continue to arise.  From my personal Gen Y viewpoint, some of these questions might be:

·         If the average age of your workforce is 40, why is there no one younger than 60 on your board?

·         Why is it necessary to have "political" agendas within a company if it hinders the job that needs to get done?

·         If a Gen-Yer can do something twice as fast, why don’t we find out what else can be done twice as fast?

·         Why aren’t we pairing up new employees with those who have been around for a while as part of onboarding?


Something I picked up from speaking with Alexander and Magnuson is that we all will need to start being a little more honest, with each other and ourselves. And being honest is a sign of respect…one of the most important common ground elements found in this book.

Seems to me like these women were right on target.

While this is the last installment of this interview series, Alexander and Magnuson will be experts featured on this blog in the future.


Win a copy of Work with Me! Post a comment to this blog and you will be entered in a drawing to win a signed copy of the book. Additional information can be found at Also available for Amazon Kindle.

I would like to thank Lora Alexander and Debra Magnuson for taking time to speak with me and take part in this interview series. Additionally, Kristie Nelson-Neuhaus, PDI’s Editor-in-Chief, was integral in helping to make this series happen.


The views expressed in my blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.