Monday, September 24, 2012

Gen Y Workforce and Association Membership

People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation) 
Just because we get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation) 
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation) 
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation).....The Who - 1967

Seriously, this video shows The Who were FIERCE....:D

There is no generation that has felt understood by the generation that came before.  However, we make a mistake when we assume we "know what they feel like" simply because we went through our own generational awakening. On some level, we can relate.  But on others - we really don't.  Each generational co-hort experiences things in their own way, and the vast cultural landscape they navigate in does lead to a certain sense that "nobody but us will ever really get this." In many cases, they may be right.

I find generational studies fascinating.  There is always a danger of stereotyping, but also a sense of shared understanding with some generalizations that appear to play out consistently over time.  Carefully done, enhancing your understanding of generational temperament and personality will help your association deal with the influxes of new talent.

I find workforce studies that focus on generations VERY helpful in terms of understanding membership in general.  Like this recently published study from Payscale called "Gen Y on the Job."

There are lots of interesting facts in here to take into account but I want to focus on one important statistic.  We have all known that "tenure" at an employer took a downturn in the 1990s after the layoffs of the 1980s and Generation X beginning to place more faith in their "portability" than in their corporate employers.  Turns out, that trend has only accelerated.  Gen Y spends a median of 2 years with any one company.

We have known for years that the idea of a "lifetime" member has been slipping into legend.  This graph elevates it to Loch Ness Monster status.

So, what now?  If Gen Y workers are spending less than two years with any given employer then your ability to reach them with "15 marketing messages over two years" is just simply irrelevant.  They will change jobs before your marketing plan even gets going.  If a Gen Y individual is seeking a leg up on a career and moving faster than ever, then maybe (like I've written about before) your strategy needs to be less dialed in to "specific member value" and dialed out to, "springboard capability to address wider needs."  Maybe instead of a "home" your association is a "springboard" to what's next.  Why not?  

How does that idea change your mission or your vision?  How many facts, in what order and delivered in what way will help that member do their job if they will only be in it for five years tops?  Can you supply what they need with four quarterly regional professional development opportunities and a conference per year?  No, you can't.  Your professional development has to be faster, cheaper and more robust than it has ever been.  I'm not saying some Gen Y members won't dive into a career and spend a lifetime with an association.  I'm just saying that this segment of the population is smaller and smaller.  It's an unsustainable membership philosophy that we have to finally come to grips with.

You used to have an average of ten years to deliver a "lifetime" member experience.  What has to change, and change now, for you to deliver the entire package in less than half of that time?

I believe the associations who continue to deal in reality, will have a bright future ahead of them.  Membership isn't irrelevant - it's just different.  Nobody can do it as well as you can, you just need to change your thinking and make appropriate levels of investment around the concept of "speed."

Take what you know and .......ready, set, go!

Things they do look awful c-c-cold.....I hope I die before I get old......


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