Best Places to Work

One Key to Creating a Great Place to Work: Cross-Generational Mentorships

Pairing Boomers, Millennials Can Close the Skills Gap

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If your office is anything like ours, then you're probably sitting in an open floor plan next to co-workers who are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. Welcome to the cross-generational workplace.

It makes for interesting times -- especially when it comes to how best to manage employee morale and job satisfaction for an industry that has seen better days. Our recent Salary Survey and Job Market Report for advertising, marketing, digital and creative professions points to an employee base with wanderlust -- 56% say they plan to change jobs.

Replacing lost talent is not just an expensive proposition for companies, but for those in marketing, it can be especially harmful to their corporate brand. In an age of social media, where bad news and reviews travel faster than ever, paying attention to what affects employee satisfaction is the secret to both retaining and attracting the best talent available.

What employees want
One desire common in all generations of workers? They all want to be relevant in the job market of tomorrow. Having lived through recessionary times, layoffs and lack of raises, all generational groups say they believe training and establishing a career path is the most important thing companies can offer today.

The survey shows that marketing, interactive and creative professionals are highly motivated by training and development opportunities -- 54% say better growth potential is the main reason they consider new job opportunities. And 63% say that access to professional development opportunity has a positive impact on their job satisfaction.

Companies in this industry have an opportunity to reassert their corporate brand by tapping into their own employees at all ages and stages for a new form of training: cross-generational mentorships.

Closing the skills gap
It's no secret that digital skills are a must for every top job today in advertising and marketing across the disciplines -- from planners, strategists, creative directors, media, account and even CMOs. Every employer we work with is looking for individuals across the spectrum who understand how to use new media and technology to communicate to their audiences.

Employees all want to make sure they have the digital skills to succeed today, but just as important, to work in an environment where they are prepared with the skills they will need for tomorrow.

Millennials and Gen-Xers are digital natives but don't always have the level of experience to navigate the tricky depths of social media and corporate infrastructures. Boomers are less comfortable with some of the newer forms of digital communications but have the experience to rise through the ranks and to know what is appropriate to put out there in the digital space.

Traditional mentorships were designed to pair up-and-coming talent with an executive partner who could impart corporate wisdom, career advice and guidance to help them move up the corporate ladder. There's no better time than now for companies to make this mentorship a two-way street .

Reverse mentoring -- or cross-generational mentoring -- recognizes that there are skill gaps on both sides. By creating a mentorship relationship where both younger and older share experiences, skills and new ways of working, employers will be able to create a bridge to eliminate both the generation and skills gaps that exist. Building these relationships will also foster a greater sense of community within the organization -- another highly valued element in the workplace by all employees.

There is still an important place for more specific, skills-based training programs within today's workplace. Companies that not only attract the best talent out there but also retain it understand that investing in talent development through different kinds of programs will help them, their employees and their corporate brand.

Celeste Gudas is the CEO and founder of 24 Seven, a leading talent-recruitment firm specializing in the specific needs of the marketing, design, creative, digital, retail and fashion industries. You can read more about the findings in its just released annual survey on Salary and Job Satisfaction.
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