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What We Want From Work: Are Generational Differences Bigger Than Cultural Ones?
Patricia Milligan discusses the conflict between a generation that has carved out a niche and is intent on securing it and a generation that's burning for a shot. The give-and-take between the two is global in scale.
What's the Big Idea?
International trade has expanded by nearly 5% over the past decade. Last year, world merchandise exports grew by 14% according to the WTO - and this despite the volatility of the financial markets and growing skepticism about free trade agreements in some quarters. It's almost a cliché: we're living in the age of global commerce. So it would make sense to conclude that rapid globalization is outpacing our ability to deal with it as individuals.
But the findings of new study by Mercer - for which the consulting firm surveyed nearly 30,000 participants in 17 countries - call that assumption into question. Mercer has found that the benefits people look for and the workplace environments they expect vary far less from country to country than they do from generation to generation.
Patricia Milligan, the President of Human Capital at Mercer explains:
"One of the things that was really heartening about [the survey] Inside Employees' Minds was the consistency we saw across the globe," says Milligan. "Now why do we care about that? Because actually there’s more sameness than difference as we look at what people value." Which means that "as we think about how we move work and workers around the world... we can [feel] security that there [are] more things that are alike than different."
On the other hand, the values of each generation of workers differs dramatically. Baby Boomers are defined around the world by a distinctive emphasis on security and the desire to "protect health and wealth." Millenials, in contrast, are willing to take a risk: they care less about safety than they do about opportunity.
From Milligan's description, a picture emerges of the conflict between a generation that has carved out a niche and is intent on securing it, versus a generation that's burning for its shot. The inevitable give-and-take between the two is global in scale, presenting a challenge for employers who must "develop programs and policies that meet the needs" of a workforce that is increasingly divided by age and perspective, even as cultural barriers are (arguably) lessening.
What's the Significance?
What we don’t see is that same flexibility applied to work. And what do I mean by that? You can have flexible work arrangements, you know, flex-time, flex-location, but if leaders and managers don’t really encourage people to work differently, to work flexibly, then people won’t take advantage of those programs.
Of course, in order for flexible work programs to go mainstream, leaders will have to swallow any discomfort they may have at differentiating between employees' needs and embrace the challenge. That means not simply offering such arrangements, but actively encouraging employees to take advantage of them.
"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.
- The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
- It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
- Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We had to be really careful," Schmidt told St. Louis Public Radio. "We couldn't disturb anything at all, because at that point, it was under law enforcement investigation. They were telling us, 'Don't even make footprints,' and I was thinking, 'How are we supposed to do that?'"</p><p>Another difficulty was the mammoth size of the skull: about 7 feet long and more than 3,000 pounds. (For context, the largest triceratops skull ever unearthed was about <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724634.2010.483632" target="_blank">8.2 feet long</a>.) The skull of Schmidt's dinosaur was likely a <em>Triceratops prorsus, </em>one of two species of triceratops that roamed what's now North America about 66 million years ago.</p>
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p>The triceratops was an herbivore, but it was also a favorite meal of the T<em>yrannosaurus rex</em>. That probably explains why the Dakotas contain many scattered triceratops bone fragments, and, less commonly, complete bones and skulls. In summer 2019, for example, a separate team on a dig in North Dakota made <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">headlines</a> after unearthing a complete triceratops skull that measured five feet in length.</p><p>Michael Kjelland, a biology professor who participated in that excavation, said digging up the dinosaur was like completing a "multi-piece, 3-D jigsaw puzzle" that required "engineering that rivaled SpaceX," he jokingly told the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a>.</p>
Morrison Formation in Colorado
James St. John via Flickr
|Credit: Nobu Tamura/Wikimedia Commons|
The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.
- Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
- That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
- Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
- Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
- Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.
- One especially mysterious thing about the asteroid impact, which killed the dinosaurs, is how it transformed Earth's tropical rainforests.
- A recent study analyzed ancient fossils collected in modern-day Colombia to determine how tropical rainforests changed after the bolide impact.
- The results highlight how nature is able to recover from cataclysmic events, though it may take millions of years.