Generational appeal of the best places to work

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By Phyllis Weiss Haserot

This is part of a series of regular columns by generational expert and internationally known consultant, coach, writer, and speaker Phyllis Weiss Haserot on intergenerational relations and navigating the challenges of the multi-generational workplace for better productivity, retention, succession planning, and business development results.

Many of us have an intuitive sense about what makes a "best place to work." Various surveys track what employees are looking for to join and stay, and those items shift in rank from generation to generation depending on existing social, political and economic circumstances.

The "Best Places to Work" study published in mid-December from Crain's New York Business is based on a statistical analysis of 2009 internal surveys and benefits offered by New York area organizations of all sizes. It was conducted by Best Companies Group, surveying 13, 991 employees of over 150 companies participating (total score compiled by 75 percent employee surveys results; 25 percent employer responses).

Generational DefinitionsHere are some quick definitions. Generations are defined by the similar formative influences – social, cultural, political, economic – that existed as the individuals of particular birth cohorts were growing up. Given that premise, the age breakdowns for each of the four generations currently in the workplace are approximately:

Traditionalists born 1925-1942
Baby Boomers born 1943-1962
Generation X born 1963-1978
Generation Y/Millennials born 1979-1998 (under age 30 today)

I am using this study as an illustration because out of the 40 winning organizations, six are law firms, five are accounting firms, three are architecture and/or engineering firms and there are a variety of types of consulting firms. Almost 75 percent of the firms have had lay-offs in the last year; nevertheless 88 percent of the survivors said they "feel valued", and even more said they had confidence in their organization's leadership.

In the summaries of why each winner was chosen, characteristics that have strong appeal to the younger generations dominated: opportunity, training and coaching, mentoring, fun, transparency, and relationships with the senior people. The highlighted perks were not largely financial, and only one organization – Goldman Sachs – was on the winners list because of compensation. (It was so above and beyond any other in that respect.)

If you'd like to join the ranks of great places to work and attract and retain the top work force, I've compiled the winning ingredients (in no particular rank order) for your guidance:

  • Cultures that discourage workaholics.
  • Philosophy of "treat them the way you want them to treat clients."
  • A clear mission that attracts and retains people who believe in what the organization does and feel their work is meaningful.
  • A business that "has a soul", demonstrated in pro bono work and incentive to do public interest work.
  • Open communications especially in times of change (growth or shrinkage) among all levels.
  • Non-financial recognition widely conveyed internally.
  • Career opportunities to branch out to other functions in an organization.
  • Focus on promotions from within.
  • Opportunities to work and develop relationships with senior people.
  • A meritocracy with training, coaching and well defined career paths.

What do you think of the list? How many of these ingredients are integral to your organization?

© Phyllis Weiss Haserot, 2010. All rights reserved.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot is the president of Practice Development Counsel, a business development and organizational effectiveness consulting and coaching firm she founded over 20 years ago, A special focus is on the profitability of improving inter-generational relations and transitioning planning for baby boomer senior partners ( Phyllis is the author of “The Rainmaking Machine" and “The Marketer’s Handbook of Tips & Checklists” (both West 2009). [email protected]. URL:

See all of the articles in this series.


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