The Most-Read Diversity & Inclusion News of 2016

By Kathy Gurchiek Dec 22, 2016
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​The multigenerational workforce, the legality of pressing job seekers for birth and graduation dates, and whether it's advisable to ask employees to identify their sexual orientation were all topics that generated a lot of interest on SHRM Online in 2016.

Think Generation Z Isn't that Different? Think Again

Just what do we know about Generation Z? They are highly skeptical, inclined to fact-check anything and everything. They aren't impressed by someone with a fancy title. Collaboration is a huge part of their work style. They have a one-world mindset, their first memorable experience of a U.S. president is with one who is black, and they grew up with unlimited access to technology. The oldest members of this generation turn 20 this year.

Keeping in mind the world Generation Z was born into will lead to a better understanding of these new and future employees, said Jeff Hiller, director of learning and development for Chicago-based JB Training Solutions. The consultancy's clients include the Major League Baseball Network, Marriott and Phillips 66.

What Motivates Your Workers? It Depends on Their Generation

Motivating several generations of employees requires targeted encouragement. Members of each generation bring a distinct set of values, attitudes and behaviors to the workplace, noted Kimberly Abel-Lanier, vice president and general manager of workforce solutions for St. Louis-based Maritz Motivation Solutions, an employee recognition provider.

"The multigenerational workforce requires flexible leadership, policies and programs," she wrote in her paper 8 Ways to Motivate the Five-Generation Workforce. "Today's leaders must familiarize themselves with the perspectives, needs and influences of each generation."

That's especially important with "seismic" generational shifts in the workplace projected to occur by 2020, she said.

When Interviewers Press for Birth Dates and Grad Dates, Is It Discriminatory?

Age discrimination in employment is rampant, according to the accounts of women interviewed by SHRM Online, as well as those who shared discrimination stories in a LinkedIn discussion among professional women. Several women over age 50 told of their experiences with age discrimination in follow-up interviews with SHRM Online

A 2012 AARP survey found that nearly two-thirds of 1,502 adults ages 45-74 (who were working for an organization full or part time, were self-employed, or were looking for work) reported experiencing or witnessing age discrimination in the workplace.

Managing the Challenge of Constant Feedback with Emerging Adult Employees

Feedback is important to every generation, but the need for constant feedback is associated with Millennials. As digital natives, they are accustomed to getting immediate responses and unfettered access.

Millennials' need for feedback may also be attributed to emerging adulthood, a new and prolonged transitional life stage (occurring between the ages of 18-29) positioned between adolescence and established adulthood. As emerging adults begin their careers, they face unprecedented challenges as well as opportunities. Quality feedback helps them navigate this uncharted terrain.  

In this article, HR professionals were offered advice on how to give Millennials the guidance they want—and need.

Do Ask, Do Tell?

Companies are divided on whether to ask about workers' sexual orientation. Some employment experts think it's a good idea for companies to ask workers if they want to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). HR offices can then tailor benefits to LGBT employees and ensure that workplaces fully represent that community. 

But others think it's not such a hot idea. 

"Even if a company takes proper precautions to ensure confidentiality and anonymity… a rogue manager or group of employees may take adverse actions against the LGBT employees, and those employees would not be able to take legal action in those states where there are no LGBT-based protections," said Michelle Phillips, a lawyer with Jackson Lewis in White Plains, N.Y., who advises companies on employment law.

It's legal in 28 states, from Montana to Virginia, to discriminate against anyone who isn't heterosexual, and more than 76 countries consider homosexuality a crime.  

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