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Millennials may go through many careers in a lifetime, Scudder tells E&O audience

From the April 15, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published April 15, 2014

By David Blaylock
Manager, Integrated Media
As utilities start looking at impending retirements, attracting and retaining the right people to work for you requires more strategic engagement than ever before, said Danette Scudder, member services manager at the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association. She spoke at the APPA Engineering and Operations Technical Conference April 8 in Oklahoma City.

The economic downturn slowed the expected retirement of many Baby Boomers in the workforce, Scudder said. But now they are retiring, and they are not the only employees who are looking to leave in the near future, Scudder said.

"It’s a different work culture for the younger generations," she said. She explained that job insecurity becomes a regular worry for members of Generation X such that they are always planning for the loss of a job. Meanwhile, the newest group in the workforce, Millennials, look at jobs as short-term prospects, moving from one to the other within a few years.

"In our industry, people used to stay for 40 years," Scudder said. "For Millennials, estimates right now say they are expected to go through as many as 20 careers in a lifetime – not 20 jobs, 20 careers."

Scudder said job knowledge and general stability can be threatened by both the retirements and the departure of younger employees. This often leaves utilities without clear heirs apparent, so there can be conflicts between different employees over roles and expectations.

"There is a strategy through all this, and it requires planning and following through," she said. "You have to identify the qualities and skills of those you have, develop and establish expectations that are doable, encourage ingenuity, and reward achievements."

"No matter what generation, employees want to be treated with respect," she said. "That can be hard when the organization and the managers are not engaging them enough or they are given a job that they are not yet prepared for."

When the right people are in place, they feel motivated. That’s good for everyone, she said.

"Making wise investments in your workforce will maximize returns," she said.

For more on Scudder’s research on generational differences in the workforce, check out her article in the May-June issue of Public Power magazine. 


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Vice President, Integrated Media and Communications 
Meena Dayak

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

Communications Assistant
Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

Integrated Media Editor 
Laura D’Alessandro