Earlier this year, Sally Fields starred in a movie called Hello, My Name is Doris as a wacky 60-something clerk working in a hip company run by millennials. Leaving aside the film's focus on Doris's unrequited crush on a younger colleague, the film provided ample evidence of the disconnect when baby boomers work among younger (read: more hip) employees.
Sight gags abound: Doris unable to keep her balance on the mandated switch from office chair to stability ball; Doris learning how to use the Internet (gasp!) from her friend's granddaughter. You get the picture. As much as it made this baby boomer cringe, this film, like DeNiro's The Intern, went over the top in portraying how cool the young folks discovered their older colleagues can be. Talk about condescending.
I reference movies frequently, but that's because they reflect our cultural zeitgeist, whether or not we want to admit it. And what I suspect most HR people and managers throughout the organizations don't want to admit is a level of condescension towards employees who are outside the mean with respect to age, political leaning or educational levels.
My work as a job search coach and resume writer provides no end of anecdotal evidence that a lack of workplace diversity exists in America. Sure, we strive (rightly so) for diversity within ethnicity, race, religion and sexual orientation, but otherwise? Not from where I'm sitting.
Tales from the trenches include Tom, whose career in global supply chain management in the medical devices industry has won his employers significant revenue growth and cost savings. Self-employed for the past 3 years, he's now looking for a job, but is worried about being middle-aged and not having completed a college degree. Quantifiable achievements will likely make the lack of degree less relevant, but his age is proving to be a factor.
Consider Annette, who is staunchly conservative in her political views, which might make her a cultural fit for many red state-based companies, but she lives in largely liberal Boston. While it is generally wise to refrain from political debate in the workplace because you can be disciplined or fired, employers tend to avoid hiring people whose world view clashes with that of the majority.
And then there are people whose priorities are different. I nearly got rejected for a job where I wound up working happily for 11 years because I was a 47-year old suburban mom and the people who I interviewed with were mostly in their late 20s. At 47, it wasn't age that thwarted my appeal; it was that I was going to be walking out the door in time to have family dinner, not hitting the local pub to shoot pool and down a few beers.
What's the danger here? It's a question of whether everyone in a company needs to be a "cultural fit." In a Harvard Business Review article, Katie Bouton argues that "Culture fit is the glue that holds an organization together," making it a key trait to identify when hiring. She cites a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study noting that the turnover caused by poor fit can cost an organization between 50 and 60 percent of the person's annual salary.
Data doesn't lie, but perhaps we need to rethink what we mean when we talk about cultural fit. Maybe it's less about "You're just like the rest of us!" and rather, "You share our corporatevalues!" Bouton recognizes this, and advocates for companies to define their organizational values, whether they be collaboration, entrepreneurial mindsets or fierce independence.
But the danger, I believe, is in seeking common corporate values based on other, more personally held values. An organization's values should be unifying, not dividing. In other words, millennials and baby boomers may think differently about many issues, but they can agree that providing stellar customer service is a mutual goal. Conservatives and liberals can unite over whether or not they are comfortable working for a tobacco company. Joining the crowd after hours to socialize isn't an issue if parents and non-parents share a passion for writing the most bug-proof code.
If your organization has these values, they can transcend those closely held personal convictions, and create a culture where everyone belongs.
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Cartoon Coffee Break: Fitness Challenges
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. +++++ We’re approaching the middle of January, and New Year's resolutions are in full swing. For many, that means being more active and creating a regular gym schedule. But sticking to these goals can be challenging, especially for employees who work at a desk for eight or more hours per day. HR can help employees reach their goals by fostering a culture where workers feel empowered to prioritize their health and by offering benefits like gym memberships or wellness stipends.
Cartoon Coffee Break: Let's Talk About Your Facebook Post
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Header photo: Creative Commons
Ten Dad-Friendly Workplaces
When we talk about the quest to "have it all," it's almost always in reference to working women trying to balance a stressful 9-to-5 with the equally difficult demands of family. To be sure, women face distinct challenges in the workplace and high expectations at home. But this Father's Day, let's not forget that dads are increasingly juggling work and home life, too. Single fatherhood is becoming more common in the US—a 2013 Pew report found that a record 8 percent of families with children were headed by a single dad—and 60 percent of households with children are dual-income as of 2014, putting added pressure on both working parents. While policies in the US do not mandate paid family leave of any kind—unlike parent-topia Sweden, which offers 16 months of paid parental leave and three months specifically for paternity leave—many companies are now thinking about how they can help their workers be "Employee of the Year," without sacrificing their "Dad of the Year" trophy. Here are ten excellent companies for working dads, based on a new report from parenting resource website Fatherly. 1. Google Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Mountain View, CA Number Of Employees: 53,600 Paid Paternity Leave: 7 weeks (12 weeks for primary caregiver) Industry: Tech Dad-friendly Policy Highlight: When you work with Google, your family is part of the family—really. If an employee passes away, the company provides his/her spouse with 50 percent of their salary for 10 years and immediately vested stock options, and children receive $1,000 a month until they turn 19 (or 23 if they're a student). 2. Facebook Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA Number Of Employees: 10,082 Paid Paternity Leave: 17 weeks Industry: Tech Policy Highlight: Procreating pays off. Facebook gives new parents a $4,000 "new child benefit," along with subsidized day care. Not to mention the $20,000 worth of supplemental insurance coverage for fertility and family planning treatments. 3. Bank of America Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Charlotte, NC Number Of Employees: 220,000 Paid Parental Leave: 12 weeks Industry: Finance Policy Highlight: Bank of America's twelve weeks of paid paternity leave is on par with countries likeIceland. Not too shabby. And, if you can handle the pay break, the company also allows for an additional 14 weeks of unpaid leave. 4. Patagonia Photo: Shutterstock Headquarters: Ventura, CA Number Of Employees: 2,000 Paid Paternity Leave: 8 weeks Industry: Retail Policy Highlight: Working parents don't have to stray far from their kids as Patagonia provides on-site child care for kids up to nine years old. The famously laid-back company will also provide afternoon transportation from local schools back to the office babysitter. 5. State Street Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Boston, MA Number Of Employees: 29,530 Paid Paternity Leave: 4 weeks Industry: Finance Policy Highlight: Flexible work arrangements are a must for the busy working dad (or mom). State Street's program helps take the stress out of setting up some work-from-home time by requiring their managers to approach their employees about flexible work options. 6. Genentech Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: San Francisco, CA Number Of Employees: 14,000 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Biotech Policy Highlight: Along with dedicated paid paternity time, Genentech also offers a sabbatical program for long-term employees. Every six years, you earn six months of time off—perfect for a long summer trip with the kids. 7. LinkedIn Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Mountain View, CA Number Of Employees: 6,800 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Tech Policy Highlight: LinkedIn likes to encourage employees to think outside their cubicle and, in addition to "special projects" time once a month, you will get a $5,000 stipend for job-related education expenses. Maybe "Childcare 101" would qualify? 8. Arnold & Porter LLP Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Washington D.C. Number Of Employees: 1,284 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks (18 for primary caregiver) Industry: Legal Policy Highlights: If your spouse or partner is gainfully employed and you'd like to trade some of those work hours for family time, Arnold and Porter allows employees working at least 25 hours to qualify for benefits. The firm even has an expert panel on hand to help their lawyers make the switch to part-time. 9. Roche Diagnostics Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Indianapolis, IN (North American HQ) Number Of Employees: 4,500 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Healthcare Policy Highlight: Roche employees have plenty of opportunities to teach Junior essential life lessons like how to swing a bat or grow a juicy tomato. The company spends $35,000 annually on sponsored extracurriculars like community sports leagues, and also offers an on-site employee produce garden. 10. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: New York, NY Number Of Employees: 41,000 (U.S.) Paid Parental Leave: 6 weeks (plus an additional 2 weeks if have or adopt more than one kid) Industry: Professional Services Policy Highlight: Another company that values ad-hoc work schedules, PwC allows employees work-from-home options as well as ""Flex Days." So if you can cram 40 hours of work into less than five days and clear your schedule, you could end up with more frequent three-day weekends and more time with the kids. Photo: Shutterstock