Maintenance Technology May 2017 - 6

UPTIME

Engage the New Workforce

I

"

Bob Williamson
Contributing Editor

'm worried that we're not effectively
engaging younger, newer employees in our
reliability-improvement initiatives," lamented
a participant in one of my workshops. "How
should we be working with them?"
That type of concern and question is becoming
more common in today's older industrial facilities-
and for good reason. The ways we employed, trained,
and engaged previous generations of employees won't
necessarily work going forward. Now is the time to
re-tool our approaches. Here are some insights into
those generations and how to engage their members
in the workplace.

The divide
Think about the differences in your family, i.e., your
grandparents, parents, yourself, and your children.
Each generation is different, based on experiences
with different technologies, socio-economic conditions, educational approaches, and politics, among
other things. Let's look at four generations and
various factors that formed their lives:
■ Matures (born before 1945): Strong family and
community ties, WWII and Pearl Harbor, postWWII economic boom, manned space flight.
■ Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964):
Cold War, Civil Rights movement, Vietnam War,
political assassinations, feminist movement.
■ Gen X (born between 1965 and 1977): Disintegrating families, unemployment, advent of
personal computers and the Internet, Space Shuttle
explosion, end of the Cold War, Berlin Wall
destruction, Gulf Wars.
■ Gen Y, aka "Millennials" (born between 1977 and
2000): Oklahoma City bombing, 9-11 terrorist
attacks, growth of school violence, global warming,
increasing divorce rates, advent of smart phones
and other technologies, everybody gets a trophy.

The formative years
Major generational events combine with situations
in an individual's formative years to influence their
behaviors, beliefs, expectations, and interests. During
the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Dr. Morris Massey
described three major life-shaping periods:
■ Imprint Period (birth to 7 years of age): We absorb
everything, accepting much of it as true, especially
coming from our parents. The sense of right and
wrong, good and bad is learned here.

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MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY

■

Modeling Period (between 8 and 13 years): We
copy people, primarily our parents, and other
people who impress us (community leaders and
teachers, for example). We try different things to
see how we feel about them.
■ Socialization Period (between 13 and 21): We
tend to look for ways to depart from our earlier
programming and are significantly influenced by
our peers. Media (social-media) messages, especially those that seem compatible with peer-group
values, have a major influence.
The challenge in a workplace is how to effectively
engage (and value) inherent generational differences,
despite the diverse, life-shaping events and experiences of peoples' formative years.

Focusing on Millennials
Get ready. Millennials will make up 75% of the
workforce by 2025, preceded by record departures of
seasoned, skilled workers. The bad news is Millennials often lack the skills, knowledge, and experiences
employers are seeking in replacements for their
disappearing skilled personnel. While more people
may make up the labor pool, it's the skills shortages
(skills gaps) that will prevent them from securing
employment. According to a 2015 report titled "The
Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing: 2015 and Beyond,"
from Deloitte (deloitte.com, New York) and The
Manufacturing Institute (themanufacturinginstitute.
org, Washington), in the next decade, nearly
3.5-million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be
filled. Because of the skills gap, 2 million of those jobs
are expected to remain open.
Knowledge transfer and reliable training processes
are rapidly becoming a more-than-compelling need
in many business sectors. The traditional training
model, however, is mostly inefficient, ineffective, and
inconsistent with how Millennials learn. Still, the
task at hand involves more than training them-it's
engaging them.
Millennial expert Christine Hassler offers some
pointers on how to work with and benefit from
this generation. It starts with understanding that
members of this group are typically over-parented,
self-expressive, optimistic, globally oriented, and
wanting to make a difference. They tend to be
multi-taskers, entrepreneurial thinkers who value
freedom and flexibility, but believe that organizations
rarely make use of their skills. According to Hassler,
MAY 2017


http://www.deloitte.com http://www.themanufacturinginstitute.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Maintenance Technology May 2017

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