It was a busy week in news about our evolving generation. Maybe we’re just tuned in, but it seems that the topic of older workers’ roles, evolution and adaptability have become a topic to ponder across industries. Below are summaries of stories about the worlds of fashion, journalism, and construction engineering.
In The Washington Post, Robin Givham interviews Diane von Furstenberg discusses her long career in fashion and her next chapter.
Starting in the 70s when her classic wrap dress made a splash to a generation of women entering the workforce, von Furstenberg has taken a roller coaster ride with her businesses through the years. But now she’s ready to step back, if only slightly. She sees a new role in the next chapter. Her comments show a strong idea of what she now brings to the table.
“I’ve had three acts. The first was the American Dream, the young girl coming to New York, the wrap dress, blah, blah, blah. The second: I started over. Now, I’ve been thinking, now is the time for the third act. How do I turn this into a legacy, so the legacy will last after me?”
“I became an icon,” von Furstenberg says. “Now I want to be an oracle.”
“I want to be able to enjoy [life],” she says. “The third act is about fulfillment.”
Givham writes: “She’s not interested in making peace with her age or defying it. Frankly, she’s confident she looks pretty good. Von Furstenberg wants to get at something deeper: Age as power.”
In the Columbia Journalism Review, Michael A. Lindenberger visits the always shifting business of journalism. It’s widely understood that traditional models for traditional news outlets have felt a tectonic shift since the internet arrived with accompanying layoffs. Lindenberger digs deep into the differing points of view from young journalists comfortable in the digital world to older reporters who sometimes won’t adapt to the new ways.
One young staffer on the digital side put it bluntly.
“All these old white men like to scream and wave their arms that journalism is dying. They say, Oh my, it’s dying, guys. But they’re the ones cutting budgets and trying to do things the same way they’ve always done things. Did that work out okay for you, guys? Sh*t no, it didn’t.
At the Washington Post Doris Trong a 15 year veteran of the paper, is quoted:
“To stay relevant in my job, I have to be aware of where the industry is going,” she says, “and, specifically, of all the tools we are using in our newsroom.”
She has stepped up to challenges to work in new mediums such as Snapchat which is clearly targeted to young news consumers. What she learns through these experiments she carries into her more traditional work on the home page of the weekend editions.
“Longtime reporters had to be retrained to not only learn new technologies, but also change their daily workflow.” Another change? Constant expectations that reporters engage on social media. “This is not natural for longtime journalists, [and] it’s second nature for those who grew up with mobile and social technology,” she says.
Adoption of new interoffice communication tools is often met with resistance from older reporters who prefer to stick to their more familiar tools.
In Boston Magazine Kris Frieswick exposes the realities that Generation X is now facing with the speed and adoption of new technologies in their industries. Sandwiched between Millennials and boomers the group is experiencing a new flavor of the disenchantment with the new that boomers have already experienced.
John Fish the CEO of Suffolk Construction in Boston has been creating innovation opportunities for his over 5,000 employees. He says:
“There is a hesitation of Generation X to explore the potential of technologies.”
Does that sound familiar? When confronted a lot of workers around 50
“A lot of people are like, ‘I’m not going to do it that way,’” Fish says. “They want to be adaptable. But it’s not natural to them. It’s like a basketball player shooting lefty when they’re a righty.”
With a looming employee shortage and boomers holding onto their jobs as long as they can employers are finding ways to engage Gen X in the new ways.
Read the full article: Xed Out: Why Generation X Is Leaving Boston’s Workforce
Photo by: Jon S from Flickr