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The power of reverse mentoring

By flipping the traditional mentoring relationship on its head, senior leaders get the opportunity to connect with the next generation of talent and gain a fresh perspective


WHEN WE THINK of workplace mentoring, many will think of it as a one-way street, where more senior employees take junior employees under their wing. But a growing number of companies have been flipping that script lately, pairing older workers up with younger workers so that the latter can be the mentor instead.

Companies are primarily using reverse mentoring in two ways: junior employees helping senior staff navigate the new and fast-changing world of technology (NFTs, crypto, social media), and in a cultural capacity, where junior employees get their elders up to snuff on what the next generation of workers expects to see out of the workplace in terms of work-life balance, diversity and labour practices.

“Early-career colleagues can offer valuably different perspectives from senior leaders, who tend to suffer from confirmation bias,” writes Heather McGregor, in FT. “Exposed only to the opinions of people who think like them, these executives become convinced they know ― and are right about ― more or less everything.”

The numbers bear this out: Gen Z and millennials account for about half the workforce, and their workplaces expectations and values are often radically different than their elders. (See, for instance, the youth-led unionization movement at Starbucks.)

It also has loyalty benefits, says one Portland, Oregon-based psychiatrist. “Younger employees generally do not see themselves as beholden to a single employer. what drives them is the value placed on their effort, which renders reverse mentoring an excellent match for them. Nothing conveys the message ‘We respect your abilities and commitment to the firm’ quite like encouraging someone to share their knowledge, mentor and motivate others.”


Great Resignation, meet Great Regret

Plenty of workers who left jobs during the pandemic are happy in their new positions. But for some, hindsight is 20/20


WORKERS WERE IN a job-quitting frenzy last year, as the so-called Great Resignation saw employees bailing on their companies in search of salary bumps or improvements to their work culture. But now, as the novelty of those new gigs begins wearing off, some employees are starting to regret the move ― and are even looking to get their old jobs back.

“Whether it was lack of advancement, they felt they weren’t getting the respect they need, they were looking to pursue their passion, after having time to reflect, many people just thought, ‘If I change my job, I'm going to be happy again,’” said HR expert Debbie Carreau.

But it’s not always panning out. A Harris Poll in the U.S. found that 36 per cent of job-hoppers felt that they lost some work-life balance; 30 per cent said the new job didn't match their expectations, and one third are thinking of job-hopping again (although this strategy seems a bit odd).

Many are getting their old jobs back, too ― 4.5 per cent or workers, in fact, according to LinkedIn data. But some experts say that it can be easy to romanticize the old job, if the new one isn't all you thought it would be.

“My advice, consider why you left in the first place before entertaining an offer to return,” wrote career coach Jessica Hernandez. “If you left because the culture was toxic, a better salary and career growth won’t overcome the negative effects on your mental health.”

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Our work-from-anywhere future?

Facing bend or break moments, more and more companies are going remote  permanently

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IN THE BATTLE over remote work, there have been some interesting moves recently, as companies give up the back and forth and take the plunge: remote work, forever, with no pay cut.

AirBnb recently made this call, with their CEO Brian Chesky announcing that their employees can “live and work anywhere” ― including the office, if they want ― and that they can move wherever they like in the U.S. with no change to pay. The tech company Roblox announced a similar plan recently.

Although we’ve heard a lot about the push to get workers back into the office, it’s increasingly clear that on the whole, employees aren’t that enthused ― and with the leverage they currently enjoy, it’s been easier for employees to push back, and management is having to listen. At Apple, where workers were required to be in-office at least part-time, there's been significant pushback from employees, with one survey finding that a majority of their employees are now looking to find a new job expressly because of its office requirement.

“Some employers just want to flip a switch and turn back time to how things were,” said HR professor Catherine Connelly. “It’s wishful thinking. If you look at any other past pandemic, behaviours just did not reset to how things were.”

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In an effort to cut costs, employers are increasingly replacing mid- and upper-level employees with younger, less expensive workers

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A TIGHT LABOUR market, combined with an increasingly uncertain economic outlook, is turning out to be bad news for older, well-paid workers in particular, as companies are beginning to replace them with younger, cheaper employees, according to a new report.

“We are seeing a rash of terminations of mid- and upper-level employees, despite the apparent shortage of available talent today,” wrote Howard Levitt and Patricia North in the Financial Post last week. “In this effort to save costs, we are seeing companies use the current job market by increasingly targeting employees whose salaries are on the higher end of the compensation spectrum for their positions.”

It’s hard to say what should be made of this trend, which has been studied in greater depth in the U.S., where the retirement surge had a lot to do with lost jobs. On the one hand, these workers are being kicked into the job market without many of the modern skills that job-hunters need. On the other hand, some may look at the trend, and at stats showing that workers between 15 and 30 are unemployed at twice the rate of older workers (and who hold far, far less wealth) and see it as a chance for the next generation of workers finally getting leadership opportunities held, for the most part, by older employees of a specific demographic.

But it still creates problems. “The cruel confluence of corporate cost-cutting, relocating positions, juniorizing roles and downgrading job descriptions, coupled with unspoken ageism, creates a crisis for older workers,” writes Jack Kelly in Forbes.

“The absence of company-sponsored pensions, along with insufficient savings to retire, questions surrounding the long-term viability of social security and accusations of bias against older workers all point to a scary, uncertain future for older workers.”


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