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  • Writer's pictureSherry

SBCo Newsletter- November 2011

Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace™

The workplace is not what it used to be and neither is our workforce. The nature and availability of work is changing in important ways, ways that will impact workers and re-define who are workers are for many generations in decades to come.

The generation’s discussion has been hot for a long time but now, my colleague Jim Finkelstein, Founder of FutureSense, and author of his second edition of “Fuse: Making Sense of the New Cogenerational Workplace™ (available on iTunes,, Kindle and through his website at addresses the issues of the cogenerational workforce in a fascinating way.   The implication for this challenge is huge for those of us in Human Resources and as advisors to our senior leadership.

Jim sees a more complex culture ahead for organization, manager and employee. He refers to the change inside companies as a “colliding” of generations that is transforming how we work and succeed. In some ways this is just the beginning, Jim and other experts in this arena say that more change is ahead as the Digital Natives (10 year olds today) enter the workplace in the not too distant future. These are the kids that grew up on games, ipads and digital everything.

For today, just imagine a company where you and your daughter or your son competes for the same position. Scary thought, but not so far off. Jim calls this the “eighteen to eighty year old” talent dilemma that companies are facing now. Seniors are re-entering; Boomers must stay in the workplace; Gen-Xers want to move up and Millennials want to move in.

Many organizations are starting to get creative to attract, engage, tailor development, and address learning differences of these diverse generations. Mark Huselid, Professor at Rutgers and author of “Workforce Scorecard” calls this “workforce strategy segmentation” as we plan for future talent. We can see that the future is now. The problem is that some companies are still embracing 20th century ideals by reacting slowly in a fast paced and dynamic 21st century workplace.

In Jim’s new book he shares that from Google to Godaddy, organizations are finally getting creative in reaching out to and engaging diverse talent pools. Microsoft is known for creating mentorship programs for young professionals and give reverse mentoring roles to senior managers who help the younger ones navigate in new territories. It is truly a win-win. I asked Jim more about the forces at play as companies increase virtual work and expect dispersed teams across the globe.

Is there a revolution underway in the workplace?

There is no doubt that the pressure is on for many organizations to find critical skills of talent and do a better job of understanding the needs of multiple generations.

Companies that understand managing diversity and retaining talent know where their risk areas are. Jim recommends three strategies for those that are just starting this journey.

  1. Determine if your company is “cogenerationally savvy.” Discover whether your company has a business strategy, a process for conversation and dialogue that is appropriate for early professionals to senior “statesman.”

  2. Identify where the high risk areas are, such as in Nursing, where the senior Nurse still sees the development of new talent in the same way that they were trained. Many of these approaches are outdated and alienate the new graduates today.

  3. Re-evaluate and re-structure the reward systems for many are still 20th century designed structures and do not offer the customization and flexibility that is needed today. We need to understand why people show up to work. What motivates a twenty-something is quite different than a boomer.

Truly understanding your workforce means you care about the “human-ness” of your company. It is time to put this first. Much has been written about business relationships and care for the customer. We are suggesting that focus on the inside is paramount before focusing on the outside.

To learn more about this topic from your peers, let us know what you think on our blog. We have a new web site at and would like to know what you are doing in your workforce to be “cogenerationally savvy.”

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