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Frederick shows generational workforce patterns
Jul 18

By CJ FAIRFIELD
Frederick News Post

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) _ James ``Rudy'' Day started at Watkins Cabinet Co. in 1957, just days after graduating from Damascus High School.

From his first day he learned how to measure, build and install kitchen cabinets. From the age of 17 until he retired at the end of June after 62 years, he learned how to do everything.

While he had other offers, he never looked for a different job. Day stayed with Watkins because he enjoyed his work.

``Mr. and Mrs. Watkins were fine people and were always honest with me right from the beginning,'' he said. ``I had several offers over the years but decided to stay where I am as long as they continued to treat me right, and they did.''

But staying at a job for the long term, sometimes decades, isn't so common for the younger generation. They're chasing the experience of what they can do and they're hoping that, at some point, something's going to resonate strongly enough with them.

To do that, they're more susceptible to move from job to job.

Morgan McAllister is the admissions leader at The Temple _ A Paul Mitchel Partner School in downtown Frederick. The 24-year-old has been with The Temple for three years. Since she started working at 17, she's had four jobs, including working at a restaurant and tanning salon.

``Being a bartender and working at a tanning salon, you only go so far with that,'' she said. ``I like to be in an industry where I can change and switch gears but still be in the same place.''

In her three years at The Temple, she's worked in education, financial aid and admissions. She likes the opportunity to be able to ``bounce around'' to different positions but stay within the company.

``One of the reasons the younger generations leave is because they want to be able to do more than one thing,'' she said. ``They probably love who they work for, but they also want to be able to play different roles and do different things.''

Business Insider recently reported that 40 percent of baby boomers _ the generation born between 1946 and 1964 _ stayed with an employer for at least 20 years. Eighteen percent said they stayed at their job for more than 30 years.

The publication also reported in 2018 that 61 percent of those in Generation Z _ those born between 1995 and 2010 _ planned to leave their job in just two years. Just 12 percent said they'd stay more than five years.

The younger generation doesn't look at that as failure. It's the opportunity to experience different things and move in different directions. Baby Boomers, though, stayed loyal to their companies. Moving from job to job meant that you failed.

Generation Z looks to expand their skill set

Colby Nees, another Temple employee, has also had four jobs since she started working at age 16. The 23-year-old has been at the beauty school for almost two years and plans to own her own salon one day.

She worked the beauty school's front desk for a year and begged to be moved to a new position.

``I was in my own little domain and was ready to spread my wings and do something else,'' she said.

Although she was bored working the front desk, she wasn't looking to leave The Temple. She was looking to grow with the company.

``I think the more opportunities you can give someone, the better,'' she said. ``If you stick them with one job for a long time, they're going to continue to look for different jobs. The younger generation loves change. They get bored very quickly with just one thing.''

They're also always looking to add to their skills.

``I feel like the longer the list, the better,'' she said.

For Randy Green, he had multiple opportunities from his first day on the job.

Green started at Washington Gas. Co.'s Frederick location 45 years ago through his high school's work-study program. At age 16, Green walked in on his first day as a junior draftsman but was asked if he knew how to read a meter.

``They gave me 15 minutes of training, gave me a stack of meter cards and out the door I went,'' he said.

Less than a year into the job, he was answering customer phone calls and dispatching drivers. He eventually became a corrosion control technician.

``I never thought this was a drag,'' he said. ``Because I wore many hats, it didn't get boring. Every day was a challenge.''

He also credited the people he worked with, explaining that he had experienced mentors teaching him the tricks of the trade.

``That's the biggest thing in what's lacking in a lot of companies,'' he said.

The juxtaposition between the generations

Rick Weldon, president of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, believes that the older generation modeled their work habits from their parents and grandparents.

The didn't put a high priority on a work/life balance, he said.

It's more common for Generation Z workers to move through jobs because they are looking for something that will do more than pay the bills, Weldon explained.

``It's certainly true that younger workers are more prone to move,'' Weldon said. ``But I think part of that is because they want to find that job that helps them achieve that work/life balance where people of my generation didn't even think about something called work/life balance. You just worked.''

Charles Riser, who owns The Temple with his wife Sharon, jokingly referred to Generation Z as ``the certificate generation'' because they're very focused on learning new skills.

``I call it the era of `Shark Tank,' `` he said. ``They've grown up watching people walk in, pitch their idea and get investors. This is the era of the entrepreneur.''

The Risers travel around the country speaking to different industries about how to better work with the next generation coming into the workforce.

``We're really curious to see where Gen Z is when they're in their 30s,'' he said. ``As a boss, the first thing you look at when someone has a resume is `Oh, my God, they've had 10 jobs in 10 years,' and you're like, `Whoa, what's going on?'''

Bosses have to start rethinking that mindset, though, because changing jobs frequently is the new normal for the younger workforce.

``It doesn't make them bad employees,'' Riser said. ``They're not getting fired. They're simply choosing to figure out where they want to go.''

To stay at their job, younger employees want more communication and feedback from their superiors. They also want a leader instead of a boss.

``They want to be guided,'' Riser said. ``They'll follow you, but they have to believe in you.''

Generation Z wants to work for an evolving company. If a boss can show its employees that it's willing to adapt and create, than the employees will stay.

``Company owners for so many generations have said `it's my way or the highway,''' he said. ``Your company has to be willing to be a living thing. Is it going to grow? Is it going to evolve? Is it going to constantly look at ways to improve?

``If you do that than these guys will stay, because they want to be part of it,'' he added. ``They want to be part of that creation process.''

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Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com


By The Associated Press, Copyright 2019