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Generation R

Optimize Blog - May 29, 2013 - 0 comments

Generation R is a new term that has come to our attention here at Zeitgeist and it relates to workers who kept their jobs during the most recent recession but took on more responsibility for the same pay.
“First there was Generation X and Y, now there is Generation R,” Gill Plimmer wrote in The Financial Times: “a term coined to describe frustrated professionals who have survived the recession with much expanded roles.”
This was a specific reference to the financial sector where with the jobs market improving, three-quarters of professional bankers, lawyers and accountants believe they are performing at a level above their current job title – and want to be rewarded for their achievements, according to a report by Joslin Rowe, the UK financial services recruitment arm of Randstad, the human resources group.
The group is using the term Generation R to describe those who progressed faster than usual during the recession by taking on the work of more senior ex-colleagues and are now pushing for pay and recognition to match.
Some commentators suggest that this is a prequel to Generation G – G for ‘Greedy’ and perhaps there should be Generation L – L for losers, those that actually lost their jobs during the downturn…..
Regular readers will know that here at Zeitgeist we are not fans of labels because broad brush generalizations rarely capture effectively the complexity of the world in which we live. Aside from this though there is an interesting ground swell of opinion that in general employees are being asked to do more for less. This of course is a double whammy and in reality we certainly see pressure to do more with or for the same. Call it productivity, optimization or efficiency but the reality is that in a constrained capital environment the pressure on understanding which levers to pull to achieve business success is key.
Doing more with the same or the same with less is an effective strategy provided quality is managed appropriately. So as a workforce what should our expectations be? Perhaps doing less for more?
Not managing people’s expectations or adding workload by stealth are not sustainable strategies. Organizations need to be honest about the economic and business drivers. People are much more willing to take on additional responsibility when they understand the reasons and the potential impact. That said, we should all be clear about our boundaries and our ability to maintain an appropriate work/life balance.
Stretching people to do more when done appropriately is a great driver for innovation. It can also be a catalyst for Value Engineering, Lean Process and other forms of business process re-engineering. Progressive leaders use all the tools at their disposal not just loading people up with more responsibilities for no additional reward (financial or otherwise). Conversely we all still know people who don’t always pull their weight – perhaps Generation S for “Still getting away with it……..” Are these individuals having their reward structure amended accordingly? Performance management has to be done right and fully integrated with resource planning, workload scheduling, organization structure etc.
Great leaders are those who have built up a reservoir of loyalty, and have credits in their credibility bank. When the time comes to say to their people, “We have to change direction,” or “we have to become more efficient”, people are willing to make an extraordinary effort. If you’re the kind of leader who cuts people down and humiliates them, or makes inappropriate demands on time workload you leave scars on people that can eventually come back to haunt you…….

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