Elizabeth Dennis

Choose the one response to each statement that best describes your organization.

1. Our hiring process involves:
(a) one interviewer with the authority to hire staff.
(b) two or more people directly related to the reporting chain.
(c) response (b) plus pre-screen testing.
(d) response (b) plus interactive software tutorials.

2. New associates are trained using:
(a) a procedures manual.
(b) the “shadowing” technique.
(c) a standardized method with frequent milestones and supervisors as mentors.
(d) interactive software.

3. Our employees are held accountable to:
(a) their direct supervisor.
(b) their department.
(c) their work teams.
(d) themselves and the company owner or president.

4. What my company values most in an employee is:
(a) hard work and punctuality.
(b) creativity.
(c) pragmatism.
(d) the ability to deal with constant change.

5. My company’s culture is:
(a) highly structured with established practices and procedures.
(b) stable, but allows for self-expression.
(c) aware of each individual’s career path and goals.
(d) very flexible and entrepreneurial.

6. My company rewards outstanding performance most often by:
(a) publishing employee names and pictures in the company newsletter.
(b) awards and recognition programs such as “Employee of the Month.”
(c) performance-based incentives.
(d) stock options and bonuses.

7. In my company, organizational planning and problem-solving involves:
(a) upper management and chief officers.
(b) supervisors and team leaders.
(c) line staff and end-users.
(d) all of the above.

8. Changes in procedures are communicated to all staff:
(a) after they have been fully developed and tested.
(b) after they have been developed, then supervisors assist with testing.
(c) after the need for change has been identified, then line staff and supervisors develop and test the changes.
(d) after problems occur, then all staff members study the problem and develop and test the changes.


Give yourself 1 point for each (a) response; 2 points for each (b) response; 3 points for each (c) response; and 4 points for each (d) response.

What It All Means

8 to 12 points:

Your company is probably a good fit for the generation of workers called “matures.” Also known as the silent and G.I. generations, this group was born between 1909 and 1945. They were raised during tremendous upheaval in America’s history. They witnessed the Great Depression, World War II and the emergence of the U.S. as a superpower. They espouse “traditional” values such as self-denial, hard work and obedience to authority. They value money and leisure time as fruits or rewards of their hard work.

Organizationally, matures value structure, a clear definition of acceptable and unacceptable behavior, published policies and established practices and procedures. Businesses whose cultures lend themselves to doing things “by the book” will find a good match with members of this group.

Sources for recruitment:

  • Forty Plus of Central Ohio, 297-0040

  • Senior Employment Program, AARP Foundation, 252-0120

  • Employment for Seniors Inc., 228-2915

13 to 20 points:

Your company is probably a good fit for Baby Boomers. Born from 1946 to 1964, Boomers are the most plentiful and influential members of today’s American society. They were born during times of great prosperity and postwar economic boom. This created a presumption of affluence not witnessed prior and allowed time for self-examination and personal gratification. This gave rise to the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll “me” generation. Assumed prosperity was so prevalent that almost all American values were examined, revised and reinvented in equal opportunity ways.

Boomers value social justice, equality, equity and the opportunity to express themselves through the work they do. Organizational cultures that value creativity, healthy rebellion and social consciousness can expect superlative efforts from Boomers.

Sources for recruitment:

  • Forty Plus of Central Ohio, 297-0040

  • Vietnam Veterans of America, 228-0188

21 to 28 points:

Your company may find Generation X to be highly productive and engaged employees. Xers, born from 1965 to 1978, have been dubbed by some as the “Why me?” generation. They are the first latchkey generation to enter the work force and have witnessed instability in both economic and political arenas. Left with the legacy of societal challenges sparked by the Boomers, this generation has also watched corporate downsizing and restructuring yield anything but rewards for loyalty and longevity of service with large companies. This, coupled with the warp-speed explosion of MTV, the decline of Social Security and the advent of AIDS has left many Xers with the common characteristic of fierce independence.

Most Xers possess a strong work ethic (they view work as a practical necessity to support the lifestyle they wish to lead), but a “free agent” perspective when it comes to organizational loyalty. They will choose a balanced private life over work and are extremely pragmatic. They excel in environments where individual accountability is highly prized and continually supported. Organizations or business owners who do not “walk their talk” are quickly dismissed by this group as being underhanded or full of false promises. Xers were taught the art of rebellion by their Boomer parents, but will stick around if choices and/or flexibility are used to meet business goals.

Organizations with highly participative decision-making and improvement processes will attract an abundance of members of this generation.

Sources for recruitment:

  • Center for New Directions, 227-5331

  • Columbus Works Inc., 224-8009

  • Eastland Career Center, 836-4541

  • Area colleges & university adult education programs

  • The Internet

29 or more points:

Your company is ready to embrace the Millennial Generation. Millennials, born after 1979, are completely comfortable with addresses that exist only in cyberspace, never having used an LP album and not being entirely sure what “The Love Boat” was. Although their work habits are only starting be studied and codified, most trendwatchers predict that this generation will learn to thrive in the ambiguity of today’s business world like no generation before them. Millennials are practical and fast thinkers. They are quickly bored or frustrated by environments that do not provide opportunities for a variety of assigned tasks and the use of technology to complete them.

Sources for recruitment:

  • City Year Columbus, 224-9569

  • Columbus Employment Consortium, 645-6686

  • Employment Opportunities Continuum, 294-6227

  • Let’s Start A Career, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, 225-6082

  • Read & Achieve, 645-7862

  • Youthbuild Columbus, 337-9718

  • Local vocational and public schools

  • The Internet

Pop quiz author Elizabeth Dennis is the owner of Corporate Clogbusters, a Delaware-based human resource management firm. She can be reached at (740) 368-9139 or ebdennis@aol.com