Different generations have different approaches to work, money, education—well, just about everything in life. These differences in how generations approach life can create a hostile environment.
Here’s how Daniel Burrus describes the problem in a recent article:
In every organization worldwide, there is an unspoken war between the young and the old. The younger workers look at the older ones and think, ‘They just don’t get it!’ And the older workers look at the younger ones and think, ‘They just don’t get it!’ Interestingly, they’re both right.
“In reality, the young and the old are the perfect complementary match. When what each group brings to the table is combined, it can create positive results, competitive advantage, and a profitable future.
One of the biggest strategic issues facing insurance organizations over the next 10 years is the rapid retirement of a large number of baby boomers. According to the most recent Agency Universe Study released by the IIABA, 50% of insurance agency personnel will be retired within 10 years.
Leaders of insurance organizations need to be thinking about how to better embrace different age groups and incorporate them within their organizations. We need to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of all employees and strategize on how we can blend those strengths and weaknesses to make a stronger and better organization.
As a baby boomer, I tend to look at life as one long linear story. I’ve been in the insurance business virtually my entire working career. I have never really thought about moving into a different industry. And, I like what I do. So, why would I want to retire?
Younger generations often view their lives more like continuing chapters, not as one long novel. They try one path, experience it as good or bad, and then start a new chapter. In Fast Company magazine, Robert Safian first used the term Generation Flux. “Few traditional career tactics train us for an era where the most important skill is the ability to acquire new skills.”
Safian states in the article: “Our institutions are out of date; the long career is dead; any quest for solid rules is pointless, since we will be constantly rethinking them; you can’t rely on an established business model or corporate ladder to point your way; silos between industries are breaking down; anything settled is vulnerable.”
This does not mean that experience only comes with age. And it does not mean that the young are the only ones with passion. But as we learn to tap into the experience of some of us who are older and blend that with the passion younger people can bring, will we only then be able to experience “positive results, competitive advantage, and a profitable future.”