“Take this job and share it!” addresses the knowledge transfer worries of workforce planners and leaders alike, and the work-life balance needs of Gen Y’ers and boomers (who share a desire to not work 60+ hours a week). The idea is that a company can hire a young part-timer or parent returning to work to share a job with a Boomer; both work 30 hours a week so the company gets 60 hours of focus. Each person works two days alone and one day together in a mutual mentoring arrangement. The company can lift their hiring freeze, bring on new grads, and stimulate the economy; eager beaver (high potential) Gen Y’er’s can opt to work full time by learning two jobs at once with a mentor for each job.
Benefits go to the organization and each generation--Boomers who are inclined to postpone retirement give their employer a demographic gift (and their tacit knowledge) by postponing retirement in organizations that are frantic about having their next generation of leaders prepared to accelerate quickly. Gen Y’ers who have expectations of moving quickly into leadership positions have less risk of failure, because of the mentoring from experienced older talent. Boomers benefit as well from two-way mentoring in areas such as technology, which comes naturally to Gen Y’ers, because Boomers will need technology know-how to extend their working careers.
Gen Y talent has an expectation to accelerate quickly into increasingly responsible positions. Organizations need next gen ready leaders, yet don’t have systems in place to prepare them. There is also a tension between what organizations ask of people 24-7 and the realities that people (regardless of their generation) want balance in their life. Fresh grads are not getting hired for full time positions in a challenged economy and thus are not getting prepared in the ways organizations need. Without a plan for knowledge transfer, Boomers will soon retire and take their know-how with them.
Cross-generational job sharing with two-way mentoring addresses the need for knowledge transfer, stimulates the economy by getting more people working and offers work-life balance, while the company benefits from a 24-7 effort.
Mentoring benefits both parties as does work-life balance; a fresh perspective from another generation and time away from work stimulates innovation. Organizations can keep up their 24-7 coverage to stay competitive in a challenged economy, resume hiring, and avoid lay-offs of older more expensive talent. Every person would feel differently about their work, and an environment that through two-way mentoring stimulates can achieve a true learning organization.
In sum, this HACK
- Unleashes human capability, enabling organized knowledge transfer through two-way mentoring
- Cross-generational job sharing can be a turn-key service to workforce planning and talent development departments
- Stimulates hiring and the economy through work-life balance
- Learning takes the work out of work
A formula regarding how much of the employee benefits package is available to those who work thirty hours a week would be needed. However organizations are returning to flex-cafeteria plans so that people can choose the benefits that matter most to them, with the result that the company’s benefit budget dollars are not wasted.
Of course every successful program begins with pilots so they can be tweaked and improved along the way. Companies could try the cross-generational mentoring match program in jobs where they have the highest risk for knowledge loss. In industry sectors where there is a severe shortage (such as healthcare), Boomers can also mentor students (for example, in nursing, because there is also a lack of educators in nursing).