The Juniorization of the American Workforce

A good friend of mine, Tom not too long ago commented on this apparent pattern. At 51 years of age, Tom works as an IT (1099 type) advisor for a medical tech start-up. Tom shared not too long ago that he had simply come again from a reunion along with his associates from highschool. Lots of these Tom referenced had been in management positions in giant firms, and had adopted lengthy and distinguished profession paths to achieve their profession targets. So, Tom noticed it as greater than a coincidence that the one people at the moment employed amongst his associates had been those that had been self employed / owned their very own companies. All the people in Tom’s group who had risen by way of the ranks of company America had been at the moment “displaced resulting from circumstances.” It would not take a number of wanting round to see this phenomena infiltrating the lives of a complete era.

The modern utility of the noun “juniorization” references the “elephant within the room.” It is the now widespread follow of “displacing” senior staff who “do not have as a lot runway left.” That is HR communicate for an unlawful follow partaking in age discrimination by way of a strategic deployment of rationalized hirings, pressured retirements, displacements, and firings.

The truth that there have not (but) been a rash of age discrimination fits, does not imply that the issue hasn’t reached a disaster state. It solely implies that these unlawful practices are troublesome to show. Exiting staff are extorted with severance packages which were considerably vetted by way of fiscal monetary financial savings for the corporate. Both you signal, comply with hold your mouth shut, and settle for what you are being supplied, otherwise you take the boot, and face an extended and costly litigation course of.

Whilst you learn this text; HR groups are working feverishly to supply proof that they don’t seem to be using juniorization practices. They are going to publish lists of displaced staff that illustrate the age range of the people who’re about to hitch the ranks of the unemployed. Though, there is a fairly good probability that the corporate will flip round and rehire youthful staffers in newly outlined positions, or substitute the displaced senior workers with “extra economically favorable” choices together with exterior “1099 type consultants,” and fewer skilled, and cheaper staff.

Hiring Managers are strongly discouraged in opposition to hiring groups of older people – even when the senior worker candidate has a very advantageous historical past as a frontrunner, or as an innovator.

There is no such thing as a denying that senior staff is probably not as technically up-to-date as their rising-young-star counterparts. However, that is not a suitable (or authorized) purpose to place them out to pasture. They nonetheless have quite a bit to supply by way of historic information*, and management** (extra on that in a minute).

An attention-grabbing analogy will be drawn from the definition of juniorization offered on the net website ‘BrickWiki which is a wiki supposed to cowl all elements of what’s coming to be referred to as the LEGO interest. ‘BrickWiki defines juniorization as:

“A time period utilized by Grownup Followers of LEGO [AFOLs) to both describe and criticize the inclusion of a few highly specialized elements in sets instead of already existing elements that could be assembled into the same configuration. A BURP (Big Ugly Rock Piece) might be considered a juniorized element but it is more common to refer to pieces such as which is simply an element that reproduces five of stacked together.”

The ‘BrickWiki continues: “The major complaint is that the use of juniorized pieces reduces the possibilities to build alternate models, a cornerstone of AFOL activity.”

So, as the Lego analogy portrays: companies are dismissing senior employees who have finely honed, specialty skill sets, and replacing them with cheaper, younger employees who have less evolved, but more diverse skills. As analogized in the Lego world, the employment of the less specialized, less senior employees will eventually result in long term organizational shortfalls in flexibility, and adaptability.

*Historical knowledge is something in which those employing juniorization processes are placing no value. They are willing to forfeit years of experience for short term savings.

“We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”

• Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

• Edmund Burke

**Leadership isn’t a talent that can be taught in grad school. It is an acquired skill set. And, guess what. Not everyone has the propensity for leadership, That’s why it takes years and years to vet good leaders. So, throwing less experienced employees into the management pool to see who sinks, isn’t the best leadership development process. It will result in the loss of valuable talent through burn out and frustration.

The term juniorization is not a new one. In an October 2004 article in the Columbia Journalism Review (“Letter From Johannesburg: The Trouble with Transformation” by Douglas Foster in Cape Town, S. Africa) the term was credited to the online source: Double-Tongued Dictionary as:

“n.- The survey spawned a terrible new word: juniorization. It covers a multitude of sins. When more experienced reporters left the profession because they were traumatized by covering the political violence that swept the country in the 1980s, or crime or AIDS in the 1990s; when talented reporters get snatched up at double their salaries by government or corporations as spinmeisters; when someone gets promoted beyond his abilities, and even when a reporter gets a story wrong, “juniorization” is the one-size-fits-all label used to shame newsroom denizens without mentioning explicitly that most of the “juniors” are black.”

So, the term juniorization has long held a negative connotation. But, the contemporary issue at hand is threatening an aging populace that is already struggling to set retirement plans with no promise of social security subsidies.

A recent blog entry on theSkimm defined the term Juniorization as: “The term for why your office happy hours keep getting rowdier. It’s when a company fires older employees to replace them with younger ones. Because 40 is the new 30 is the new 25. Is the new not so legal.”

In theSkimm ‘s coverage, they referenced an article from Business Insider entitled Wall Street is gripped by something called ‘juniorization,’ and it is freaking some people out in which the practice of firing senior traders and salespeople and replacing them with younger talent was cited as a major cause for concern. But, this trend which has been recognized in the financial services world, is not confined to that sector.

None of this is meant to put the full blame for these juniorization practices on the Human Relations professionals. Obviously, these directives are coming from a higher level. But, the level of complicity being exercised by the HR folks is amazing. They are smiling in the employees’ faces and kicking them in the ass on the way out the door.

The days of working for one corporation for your entire career are at the endangered level on the extinction scale. But, don’t show me a rat and call it a puppy. You might be “just following orders,” (think war crime trials) but don’t tell us that you’re making fair and non-discriminatory business decisions. Because we’re just not that stupid.

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