Read the Next America Yet?

If you read nothing, know these three things.

At BridgeWorks, we nerd out on books, media, articles, documentaries, and blogs covering the generations a bit too often. So, naturally, when stat-heavy and dense The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown by Paul Taylor of Pew Research Center got released, we rushed to our local bookstore (#Millennialsbuylocal). There are countless summaries/synopses of the book on the interwebs, and we don’t want to bore you with information you can find elsewhere. Instead, we have applied our generational trifocals to bring you three big take-aways:

#1 - Retirement isn't looking so hot for any generation.
Get ready for what we call a drool-worthy statistic: There used to be 42 people working for every retiree, now there are only 3. (Pause… react… mind BLOWN!) What does this mean? Boomers aren’t confident in their ability to retire comfortably and Xers and Millennials don’t even believe they’ll receive the benefits of state entitlement programs when they reach their graying years. On top of that, there aren’t enough skilled health care workers to care for the current aging population or the next one. This may seem a bit gloom-and-doomy, but many industries, especially finance and healthcare, could transform this challenge into an opportunity.


a) Xers and Millennials need to independently prepare for retirement security, and the finance/banking companies that know how to reach them will reap the benefits.
b) With physicians and nurses retiring soon, the healthcare organizations that take an innovative approach to recruitment and patient care will rise to the top.

The bottom line: If both of these industries can figure out how to build a strong multi-generational workforce that can successfully and positively reach generations of customers, there is hope that retirement can look bright in the future.
#2 - Marriage, family, landmarks—times are ch' ch' changin'.
We all know Millennials are getting married later. In 1960, 60% of 20-somethings were married, and in 2014, only 20% are. But that doesn’t mean that Millennials don’t want a family. And it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to settle down. It’s just that settling down looks different. For example, a woman’s destiny is not just “wife” anymore; it’s “wife + ____,” or maybe even just “____.”

The bottom line: The “American Dream” is transforming into one where couples are striving for happy, well-balanced lives that revolve around each other, not just around their children. This will only continue to impact Millennials’ desire for work-life integration.
#3 - The melting pot is stirring faster and faster.
In 1960, the US was 85% white. In just over 20 years, the US will be 43% white. This demographic shift has huge implications. It affects how citizens vote, what fields of study are pursued, what the demographic expectations of companies will be, etc.

The bottom line: If we’re to venture a guess, this means that the traditional organization still living and breathing by its 120-year-old mission could face challenges when recruiting an incredibly diverse workforce.