What Your HR Department Can Learn From Jazz
Sylvia Ann Hewlett is an economist and the founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy where she directs the “Hidden Brain Drain”—a task force of 35 global companies committed to fully realize female and minority talent over the lifespan. She also heads up the Gender and Policy Program at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. She is the author of six critically acclaimed nonfiction books and her articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Financial Times, and the International Herald Tribune. Hewlett has taught at Cambridge, Columbia and Princeton Universities and held fellowships at the Institute for Public Policy Research in London and the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at Harvard. A Kennedy Scholar and graduate of Cambridge University, she earned her Ph.D. degree in economics at London University.
Sylvia Hewlett: I think jazz is the right metaphor. It's freedom within form. Our new demographic research coming out in July really shows that what Gen Y wants, and is actually what boomers want too, is actually to stay with an employer/company that they had admire. But to mix and match, to ebb and flow, to have much more of freedom within form, and to have a long view.
One of the biggest yearnings of these two juggernaut generations, and just remember Gen Y 80 million of them in the US, and only 37 million Xs, so this is a huge generation on our doorsteps beginning to climb up the professional ranks. What they want within the context of loyal attachment to an employer and intense periods of work is odyssey. The ability to search and quest for meaning, to maybe work for six weeks in Africa, and then absolutely get down to work back on the ranch again.
I think that we are seeing a sea change in attitudes towards work and a much more fluid and creative take on what a 360 degree, full round work experience should look like.
Obviously companies like Google or Genzyme, some of the smaller innovative talent machines out there, are precisely allowing this.
But there is a tension between loyalty and quest, but it can be totally handled by allowing this jazz-like arrangement and I think that's where we're heading.
Smart companies learn to create work environments that promote freedom within form.
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