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Excerpt--Igniting Gen B & Gen V

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2007, 112 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 978-089106226-4

SHRMStore Item #: 61.12503

Order from the SHRMStore or call (800) 444-5006


Close your eyes. Picture yourself touring your workplace. Walk through the halls and visit every department. Notice the energy level of the people around you. Count the smiles. Listen for the greetings, ideas, and thank-yous. Ask yourself how you will grow your bottom line if half of your current staff is coasting to retirement and the other half insists on work–life balance.

Now, picture yourself walking from department to department two years from now, after the successful implementation of a process that rewards employee engagement—even the engagement of employees who are nearing retirement. Imagine every employee taking responsibility for innovation: no one resting on his or her laurels or waiting for management’s orders. Imagine your best longtime employees requesting new challenges, suggesting ideas, and finding ways to stay beyond their anticipated retirement date. Notice the electricity in the air and the energy of the people around you. Sense the smiles even before you see the faces. Know that this year and going forward, the bottom line is going to improve.

Employee engagement has surfaced as a leading factor in talent management. Traditionally, the focus has been on integrating, motivating and retaining younger employees, while assuming that older, longtime employees will do their job faithfully, but no more, if no less. But that attitude is out of step with reality. Today’s competitive marketplace demands that all employees do more than their job. Adding to the urgency, Generation X does not have enough members to replace more than 78 million retiring Boomers and Veterans, and too few Generation Y and Z employees have the basic math, spelling, decision-making, and other skills needed for even entry-level positions.

The solution? Increase the number of engaged Boomers and Veterans on staff—and encourage them to skip retirement either part-time or altogether; and encourage retirees to return, by offering alternative work arrangements that enable the best person to perform a specific task while transferring knowledge to the up-and-comers. Today, senior, middle, and HR management need to work together to develop an organization-wide competency in employee engagement. Every manager, every program—such as compensation, benefits, or rewards—and every policy can reinforce this competency.

Your competitive edge will be your organization’s ability to consistently draw out the best ideas, best performance, and longest retention of all its employees. This book shows you how to do that starting today.


As a nation, we face many challenges, but we have the ingenuity, drive, and competitiveness to overcome them. This book is full of examples of companies that have tapped their longtime employees and changed the direction of their fortunes. In the next few years, we will face not only a labor shortage but also a skills shortage. Neither Gen X nor immigration will be able to fill the holes left by knowledgeable retiring employees. This is our wake-up call to change the rules of engagement and maintain our position as a global market leader.

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