Generational differences exist, but beware stereotypes

BY Rebecca R Hastings

Researchers and experts often examine different generations in the workplace, looking for clues to improve management effectiveness. Recent studies suggest that employers should think twice before making stereotypical assumptions about individual employees based on age.

For example, although a stereotype exists that Millennials (those born after 1979, for purposes of this survey) are the “me” generation and have high expectations for employers, an international survey of hiring managers and HR professionals released Oct. 8, 2012, concluded that Generation X (those born between 1962 and 1979 for purposes of this survey) is “the most demanding age group” in the workplace. “2012 HR Beat: A Survey on the Pulse of Today’s Global Workforce” reveals that members of Generation X request bigger salaries and higher job titles than those from other generational cohorts.

The independent study, conducted by Dimensional Research and commissioned by SuccessFactors, an SAP company, reflects the experiences of 1,533 HR leaders and hiring managers throughout the United States, Australia, France, the Netherlands, Germany and the U.K., who responded to an online survey fielded in September 2012. According to the report, job candidates from Generation X are most likely to ask for:

• Higher pay (36%).

• Hiring bonus (29%).

• Higher job title (24%).

By comparison, Millennial-age job candidates are most likely to ask prospective employers for:

• Training (40%).

• Job perks, such as free drinks or time off to volunteer (33%).

• Flexible work hours (23%).

Once employed, those from Generation X are most likely to request:

• Promotions (44%).

• Flexible work locations (39%).

• Nonscheduled bonuses (38%).

Millennials are most likely to ask for:

• Mentors (42%).

• Training (35%).

• Nonscheduled bonus (28%).

Respondents said Baby Boomers (born mid-1940s to mid-1960s) are much less likely to make requests of employers, regardless of whether they are job candidates or employees. Just 12% of respondents had received requests from Baby Boomer job candidates for more vacation time, for example, and just 14% had received requests from Baby Boomer employees for reduced work hours or an extended leave of absence, the most popular requests identified by the survey for this age group.

Managing different generations

An understanding of common generational differences may be useful, particularly when the age gap between employee and manager is significant; however, a significant difference in age does not lead to a significant difference in work style necessarily.

A CareerBuilder survey conducted by Harris Interactive and released Sept. 13, 2012, compared the preferences of managers and workers ages 25-34 with managers and workers age 55 and older, and found similarities and differences between the two groups.

For example, the survey of 3,892 U.S. workers and 2,298 U.S. hiring managers from each age group found that members of the two groups shared a similar preference for face-to-face communication over email or text:

• Face-to-face: 60% (ages 55 and over) versus 55% (ages 25 to 34).

• Email/Text: 28% (ages 55 and over) versus 35% (ages 25 to 34).

• Phone: 12% (ages 55 and over) versus 10% (ages 25 to 34).

There were a few interesting differences. For example, although members of the younger age group were more likely than their older counterparts to say they would work eight hours or less per day (64% versus 58%) and were less likely to arrive before 8 a.m. (43% versus 53%), younger workers were more likely than those in the older age group to work after leaving the office (69% versus 62%).

Moreover, members of different generations take a more distinct approach to workplace projects. Younger generations are more likely to want to plan, rather than “dive right into” a new initiative, CareerBuilder found.

Fifty-two percent of those ages 25 to 34 said they “like to skip the process and dive right into executing” compared with 66% of those 55 and older. Instead, nearly half (48%) of the 25-to-34 group said they “like to write out a detailed game plan before acting” compared to approximately a third (35%) of those 55 and older.

In addition, a majority of each group (62% of those ages 55 and over and 53% of those ages 25 to 34) felt it was important to stay in a job for at least three years. Members of the younger age group, however, were far more likely than those in the older age group to say that someone should stay in a job just until they’ve learned enough to move ahead (47% of those ages 25 to 34 versus 38% of those age 55 and over). In addition, more young workers said that someone should be promoted every two to three years if they are doing a good job (61% versus 43%).

“Age disparities in the office are perhaps more diverse now than they’ve ever been. It’s not uncommon to see 30-year-olds managing 50-year-olds or 65-year-olds mentoring 22-year-olds,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, in a news release. “While the tenets of successful management are consistent across generations, there are subtle differences in work habits and views that all workers must empathize with when working with or managing someone who’s much different in age.”

Play to generational preferences and strengths

Giselle Kovary, managing partner of n-gen People Performance Inc. and co-author of Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills (n-gen People Performance Inc., 2012), offered SHRM Online some tips for getting the most out of members of different generations.

• To get the most out of Baby Boomers, managers should express appreciation for their dedication, hard work and long hours.

• For Generation X employees, managers should be clear about desired results and the rewards that will be provided for high performance.

• Managers of Millennials should communicate the impact and contribution this cohort is making to the organization or team.

Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

©2012 SHRM. All rights reserved.

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Empire launches Magnetic Billet Torpedo levels

BY Ken Clark

Mukwonago, Wis.-based Empire Level launched a line of Magnetic Billet Torpedo levels constructed of anodized aluminum alloy for strength and durability, and they’re available in 5.5-in. and 8.5-in. sizes. 

The blue levels feature Made-in-the-USA vials that display angles of 0, 30, 45 and 60 degrees. Powerful neodymium magnets provide superior holding strength on metal objects so you can obtain measurements without holding the level, and a No-Dog feature, which makes bending pipe and conduit more accurate and helps to eliminate “dog legs” in offsets and saddles. The new levels also feature a convenient V-Groove to make working with pipes and conduits a snap.

“Our new magnetic billet torpedo levels are designed to be the most accurate billets on the market, for contractors who demand the best for their projects,” said Jenni Becker, president of Empire Level. “The levels feature our Mono Vial system, which sets the industry standard for accuracy and dependability.” 

Empire Level products, including the new Magnetic Billet Torpedo Level, can be found at retail and online stores throughout the United States. MSRP for both the 8.5-in. Magnetic Billet Torpedo Level and the 5.5-in.Magnetic Billet Torpedo with No-Dog feature is $24.99.


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Home prices rise 7.6% in Q3

BY Brae Canlen

Existing single-family home sales rose in 120 out of 149 metropolitan statistical areas based on closings in the third quarter of 2012 compared with the same quarter in 2011, according to the national Association of Realtors (NAR), while 29 areas had price declines. In the second quarter of 2012, 110 areas showed increases from a year earlier.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the growth in home prices gets down to supply and demand. "Housing inventories have been gradually trending down from a record set in the summer of 2007," he said. "Earlier this year, a broad equilibrium began to develop in most areas between home buyers and sellers, which led to a sustained upturn in home prices. We expect fairly normal appreciation patterns in 2013, but there is a risk of price acceleration if builders are unable to increase supply to meet the needs of our growing population and household formation."

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 1.7% in the third quarter and are 9.8% above the third quarter of 2011. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast slipped 0.3% to $246,900 in the third quarter from a year ago.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 5.2% in the third quarter and are 17.8% higher than a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest increased 4.2% to $151,100 in the third quarter from the same quarter in 2011.

Existing-home sales in the South increased 5.4% in the third quarter and are 11.7% above the third quarter of 2011. The regional median existing single-family home price rose 5.7% to $165,400 in the third quarter from a year earlier.

In the West, existing-home sales slipped 1.2% in the third quarter due to limited supplies, but are 2.1% higher than a year ago. With the tight inventory, the median existing single-family home price in the West surged 20.2% to $247,400 in the third quarter from the third quarter of 2011.

The national median existing single-family home price was $186,100 in the third quarter, up 7.6% from $173,000 in the third quarter of 2011, which is the strongest year-over-year price increase since the first quarter of 2006, when the median price rose 9.4%. In the second quarter, the price increased 7.2% from a year earlier.

The median price is where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions.

Some of the price gain resulted from a smaller share of distressed home sales in the market, but the higher prices significantly reflect a market recovery. Distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales that generally sell at deep discounts — accounted for 23% of second-quarter sales, down from 30% a year ago.

A separate breakout of income requirements to buy a home on a metro-area basis shows buyers in the vast majority of areas had ample income in the third quarter, assuming they could meet stringent mortgage credit standards.

Total existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, rose 3.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million in the third quarter from 4.54 million in the second quarter, and were 10.3% higher than the 4.25 million pace during the third quarter of 2011. 

At the end of the third quarter, 2.32 million existing-homes were available for sale, which is 20% below the close of the third quarter of 2011 when 2.90 million homes were on the market.

According to Freddie Mac, the national commitment rate on a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage averaged a record low 3.54% in the third quarter, down from 3.80%  in the second quarter and 4.31% in the third quarter of 2011.

NAR president Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates in Miami, said affordability conditions are a big factor in rising sales. "Historically low mortgage interest rates are encouraging many buyers who were on the sidelines," he said. "Sales this year are notably higher than the levels seen in 2008 through 2011, so we’re clearly in a recovery phase with rising sales, declining inventory and rising prices. Of course, the recovery would be stronger and more stable if we could return to safe but sensible mortgage underwriting standards."

A breakout of incomes required to purchase a median-priced existing single-family home by metro area shows the typical buyer had more income than necessary in the third quarter. Income amounts are determined using several down payment percentages, assuming a mortgage interest rate of 4% and 25% of gross income devoted to mortgage principal and interest.

The national median family income was $61,700 in the third quarter. However, to purchase a home at the national median price, a buyer making a 5% down payment would only need an income of $40,900. With a 10% down payment the required income is $38,700, while with 20% down the necessary income is $34,400. 

In the condo sector, metro area condominium and cooperative prices — covering changes in 54 metro areas — showed the national median existing-condo price was $180,800 in the third quarter, up 7.7% from the third quarter of 2011. Thirty-three metros showed increases in their median condo price from a year ago, and 21 areas had declines.

First-time buyers purchased 32% of all homes in the third quarter, down from 34% in the second quarter; they were 32% in the third quarter of 2011.

The share of all-cash home purchases was 27% in the third quarter, down from 29% in the second quarter and 29% in the third quarter of 2011. Investors, who make up the bulk of cash purchasers and compete with first-time buyers, accounted for 17% of all transactions in the third quarter, down from 19% in the second quarter and 20% a year ago.

"The modest decline in first-time buyers and investors shows the impact of limited inventory in the lower price ranges from a shrinking share of distressed homes, which are popular with both of these groups," Yun explained.


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