By Steve Moran

There was a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal about some huge differences (and similarities) in value priorities between generations. The article is primarily about what it might mean to the election, but it has some interesting implications for how we attract new people into the senior living field.

The print version is in the August 26 issue and is titled Old and Young Diverge on Values. The on-line version is titled “Americans Have Shifted Dramatically on What Values Matter Most”. Because so much of what the WSJ publishes is behind a paywall, I grabbed a screenshot of this chart:

Hard Work . . .

The data on hard work really grabbed my attention. It is not as high in younger generation’s values as it is with older generations, but it is way up there, and that is good news. It also represents a wonderful opportunity to create messages that will resonate with younger generations.

What Hard Work Means . . .

What the article does not explore, but I believe to be true, is that tapping into hard work as a value is very different for older and younger generations. For those of us who are Boomers or Silents, hard work was a virtue all by itself. There is, for us, a certain sense of accomplishment in the work itself, even if the results have little or no value. 

I am convinced that a “Hard Work” message will only work with younger generations when it coupled with three things:

  1. Purpose. They want to feel that their work is meaningful, that it is making the world into a better place, that it is improving the lives of other human beings . . . something that should be easy for us to do in senior living.
  2. Appreciation. They want to know that hard work is appreciated . . . I know this might sound like offering up participation trophies, but in reality, we all do want to be appreciated. 
  3. Creativity/Innovation. They need to know that when they have thoughts about how their hard work is being done, they want to have the ability to be creative, which means if they see a better way, they want to be able to express their ideas and know they are heard. They want their ideas to be adopted or to be told why it is not a good idea, and for real reasons. 

We have so many opportunities to get this right.  We have so many opportunities to be the new “Silicon Valley”. Even today . . . Google gets an astounding 2 million job applications a year.