Generation R...a case of over-promotion?

The word ‘Generation’ followed by a single letter must strike fear into the hearts of most readers. We’ve probably had our fill of analysing and debating the word when suffixed with X or Y, or prefixed with i...hell, I even blogged ‘Still Got Those talking Gen Y Blues’ at TruLondon!

Generation R is new though, and different. Whilst the more well known generational classifications usually define age groups by their cultural, socio-economic and parental influences, and are often misappropriated by us HR and Recruiting professionals to illustrate workplace behaviours too, this new classification is straight out of the workplace...

...and its catching on quickly! I first noticed it barely a week or two ago, and already it has spawned articles in both Financial Times and Wall Street Journal.

Who are Generation R? Well (I guess) they’re Generation Retained (or Generation Recession?) - defined as frustrated professionals who have survived the recession with much expanded roles...those who not only kept their jobs in the recession, but have progressed faster than usual by taking on the work of more senior (and redundant) colleagues...and now they want their rewards!

The main proposition seems to be that they are the ultimate fast track talent, taking responsibility and performing at a level way above that normally associated with their experience, and now they’re frustrated. They want the rewards, benefits and recognition normally afforded to those whose jobs they’ve taken. Seems that they are mainly to be found in the financial services sector, but reports of sightings have been growing through other sectors!

Their predicament was summed up by one UK recruitment company MD:

‘Filled with confidence as to their own abilities and what they can offer, Generation R has high expectations as to what their next move should be. They want a job that reflects the skills they have harnessed during this turbulent period’

Or ‘I want it all...I want it now’ as Freddie Mercury once sang!

Sound familiar??

Seriously, you might think that most people in this position would have been thankful:

1) To keep their job
2) To have had such faith shown in them
3) Be grateful for the opportunity to acquire skills and experience that it could have taken years to build up
4) Looking to repay this faith by showing a modicum of loyalty and help their companies back to a stronger position

But no, it would appear that they are eager to move, ready to offer their talents to the highest bidder. They are threatening to move if they don’t get what they want...and it seems that a number of organisations are now feeling under pressure to promote staff to the next level faster than they would like just to keep them.

Now this may well excite recruiters and frustrate HR professionals who have built talent propositions around emerging young performers, but has me asking 3 questions:

Are recruiters and hiring managers seeing Generation R candidates?

Would you promote someone early just to keep them?

If companies give in to their demands, and/or start aggressively hiring from competitors by offering higher rewards, purely allowing candidates to hold out for the biggest package, aren’t we in danger of going right back to the mess we’re still trying to get away from?

Let me know what you think...

Views: 121

Comment by Alasdair Murray on April 23, 2010 at 7:22am
Not that I am advocating that they should experience it, but I have found during my career that many who have never had to endure any kind of adversity in their working life, i.e. being laid off or periods of unemployment, are totally unrealistic in their outlook.

Back in the early nineties I was made redundant and spent a desperate four months trying to find work. it was just before Christmas at the height of a recession when I lost my job and the outlook was, to put it mildly, bleak.

I barely managed to survive on the £40 a week the dole very kindly offered me and had sleepless nights fretting about the injustice of it all and worrying about how on earth i was going to get back into a job.

Thankfully, a role did come up eventually, it meant taking a 25% drop in pay, but it got me back into employment.

I will never forget though that one bloke in the office who was seen as a bit of a high flyer almost berated me for daring to have been out of work for a few months during a recession. "I know what i would do if it were me" he piped up "I'd stack shelves or work at a petrol station or anything". Oh yes, of course! How foolish of me not to have thought of that.

The reality was and still is that no supermarket and petrol station is going to take on someone who they know will be out of there like the proverbial shit off a shovel when a more relevant job comes along, but high flyer failed to see that along because he had never known anything other than being in a job and wanting more money and a better car and faster promotion etc.

In short, if someone fits the label Generation R and hasn't been there, it's easy to bemoan their lot and want more, but maybe they should spare a thought for the thousand upon thousand who have lost their livelihood during this recession and maybe thank their lucky stars, stop demanding so much and tell themselves 'there but for the grace of God (or whoever) go I".
Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 23, 2010 at 2:03pm
There is nothing like sitting on the other side of our desks that will make us a better more effective recruiter. It is many times good to tell a candidate "I have been on the other side of this desk, i know how it feels to worry about how the bills are going to get paid." "Let me assure you that i have never had a candidate die in a refrigarator box under a bridge, you will not change those statistics." "I may not be the one to help you find a new job, but i can assure you that you will find one."

Having made that little speech i have many times watched that candidate take a deep breath, get a handle on the internal panic that goes with being unemployed and be able to articulate information that helps us both move forward with getting them situated.

You are more than correct, when one has been there and felt that panic, one will never forget. I have clients who will tell me that would like to have someone who had been fired or laid off at least once because it creates a whole different mind set about work and life in general.
Comment by Benjamin McCall on April 23, 2010 at 2:23pm
Interested perspective. In this economy regardless of letter many are a part of Generation R or Generation 'R'ipped Off ;)
Comment by Margo Rose on April 23, 2010 at 7:35pm
Intelligent post Mervyn. Hugs


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