No one is talking about a labor shortage these days. There is a lot of banter about how to manage GenY's, and Millennials. But a forgotten group of people is the Zoomers -- the "50 plus" generation. Media innovator Moses Znaimer created a new way to understand the "50 plus."
"The population bubble that was the youth market 30 years ago is, today, the market I've defined as Zoomers," says Znaimer. "They were the dominant generation then... they remain the dominant generation now. Zoomers are a growing, vibrant and affluent community. They look at the world with optimism; they are engaged and aspire to enrich their lives and the lives of their communities."
Zoomers encompass both the Baby Boomers (ages 44 to 62) and those older.
It's a vast group -- 14.5 million, accounting for 44 per cent of the population, and controlling more than 77 per cent of all Canadian wealth. they probably control a lot of the wealth in North America and Europe too.
Looking at more interesting statistics that tell the intellectual prowess of Zoomers:
- The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is still women over 55 -- there are now nearly 1.5 million of them active on Facebook each month.
- There are about 4.6 million Facebook users 45 -- 54, and 2.8 million over 55. The numbers of these intellectually vibrant people are growing everyday.
Well, some of them. Truth is, there are a lot of burned out Zoomers out there just waiting to escape the shackles of the corporate tread mill. Trust me, I see them all the time in my work as a corporate psychologist.
And therein is the challenge for leaders and managers. Many Zoomers feel forced to stay working because their nest egg has shrunk terribly. Others are still wanting to work, maybe in a different way than we did 25 -- 30 years ago but work still provides lots of meaning.
Can you forget about needing to pay special attention to training, motivating, and engaging your Zoomer employees? They ought to be happy just to have a job, right? No way.
This Great Disruption has caused us to hunker down and try our best to keep our jobs. I use the first person here because I'm 66 and am still very active in the working world on Twitter, LinkedIn, writing articles for ezines, producing vlogs, blogging, webinars, virtual book tours and iPhone apps.
Zoomers have been in the workplace for a long time. We have lots of experience -- the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful -- to contribute. We grew up thinking the world was our oyster. We have been disappointed while at the same time living a most affluent life interrupted by periods of significant anxieties about what's happening to our world -- both personally and globally.
So a manager must be aware that a still employed Zoomer knows the ropes, how to work the system, has seen management fads -- and managers -- come and go.
S/he is a sometimes "crusty" element to deal with in the workplace. Be respectful. Ask for a Zoomer's input (we will be reluctant at first because we have also been asked many times, only to be ignored).
Zoomers show up on time. We are resentful of GenY's and Millennials who are more casual about the time clock. So managers you will have to be highly skilled at dealing with conflict between the generations. As a skilful negotiator you will have to know how to incorporate the divergent values of the generations.
Managers need to outline your expectations clearly to Zoomers. The alive, bright, ambitious ones will like that. The laggards will resent you. You will have to stay the course while not alienating them. One on one's can work well to shift a disengaged Zoomer into a more committed employee. Zoomers are more used to acquiescing to authority than GenY's or Millennials. Do it in private to nuture the Zoomer's self-respect.
GenY's want to change everything -- now.
Zoomers are hestitant to make quick changes because experience tells us quick changes can be disastrously costly. We probably need to speed up sometimes. Managers will need to involve Zoomers in the change process and spend time helping us to see that the changes are necessary, and more importantly, that this is just not another management fad that will become as relevant as last month's newspaper.
GenY's want to know how and why the company works. Zoomers are not interested in those details so much as WiiFM (What's in it For Me) and "Will I still have a job next week?" In multi-generational team meetings managers will have to keep the differing interests of all the audiences.
Millennials and GenY's were born into cyber world. Some Zoomers can remember getting their first television. Zoomers, when confronted with the overwhelming tsunami of cyber house rules over which our brains feel like they are exploding, react with frustration infused with good dose of anger, often followed by self-hating despair. This is amplified with "the younger people" look at us like we are idiots -- or so we think they do.
Managers be patient. Be kind. Be gentle. We will take a lot longer to get it. We will get it.
Managers can set a truly wonderful climate of cooperation between GenY's and Zoomers by actively developing both camps' emotional intelligence. This is an area in which we are equal in our need for learning and applying.
Be Able. Be Willing. Be Flexible.
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