April 2001 Bulletin

AAOS to meet challenge of new workforce

A new workforce is emerging in 2001. It possesses diversity characteristics that extend beyond the traditional ones of race, gender and ethnicity, with the addition of a new factor. . . one of fundamental importance to organizations such as ours: age diversity. Sociologists and other authorities on the importance of workforce demographics, believe that understanding the unique characteristics of this new workforce cohort will be of central importance to the future success of professional organizations such as ours.

The workforce of today, comprised of five distinct professional generation cohorts, brings a greater mix of cultural values to orthopaedics than ever before. While all of the groups in practice today share some traditional work values, each demonstrates important characteristics that are unique from one another.

Marilyn Moats Kennedy, a sociologist and Academy consultant on the future impact of generational characteristics, points out that the youngest age cohort in our profession differs from the others in ways that may be more striking, and of greater importance to the Academy, than those seen previously (Table 1) (Marilyn Moats Kennedy: Managing Change: Understanding the Demographics of the Evolving Workforce). She reported recently on the unique social values of the newest component of the workforce, and how these values influence opinions on such diverse issues as communication style, the importance of technical and telecommuting skills, and the basis of a good day’s work (Tables 2 and 3).

(Table 1) Workplace characteristics

Pre-Boomer 1934—1945

Boomer
1946—1959

Cusper
1960—1968

Buster
1969—1978

Netsters
1979—1984+

Traditional
work ethic

Money/
work ethic

Money/
principle

Principle/
Satisfaction

Principle/
Satisfaction

Work first

Work first

Some of both

Lifestyle first

Lifestyle first

Born to lead

Expect to lead

Lead and follow

No need to lead

Lead if necessary

Loyal to employer

Loyal to employer

Some of both

Loyal to skills

Loyal to skills

Independent but conventional

Care deeply what others think

Some of both

Don’t care what others think

Care little what others think

Value working well with others

Want others to work with them

Want others to work with them

Prefer to work alone

Like small groups

Technically competent

Technically challenged

Technically challenged

Technically
savvy

State-of-
the-art

Believe in
the mission

Lip service
to mission

Care about
mission

Must have
mission

Must have
mission

Strong chain
of command

Chain
of command

Mixed

Individual
first

Individual
first

Want to win

I win, you lose

Want to win

I win, you win

I win, you win

© 1999 Marilyn Moats Kennedy

(Table 2) Characteristics

Pre-Boomer
1934—1945

Boomer
1946—1959

Cusper
1960—1968

Buster
1969—1978

Netsters 1979—1984+

Work hard, save money; two weeks vacation

Work hard, play hard, spend hard, talk about it

Work hard, play hard, worry about money

Work hard if it doesn’t interfere; save money

Good grades; make others pay; save money

I like it, it’s O.K.

Do you really like it? Will others?

Should I really like it? Will others?

I like it; I don’t care what you think

I like it; think small

I care about religion

Religion is socially acceptable

Religion is
a hobby

What is religion?

Comparative religions

Exercise if
forced to

Exercise for
body definition

Exercise is a
duty

Exercise for
mental health

What’s your second sport?

Buy a
decent house

Buy the most house you can

Do I need
a house?

Reclaim the
inner city

I like living with my parent(s)

© 1999 Marilyn Moats Kennedy

(Table 3) Social values

Pre-Boomer 1934—1945

Boomer
1946—1959

Cusper
1960—1968

Buster
1969—1978

Netsters 1979—1984+

Support
United Way

I am forced to support U. way

I don’t give
at the office

United Way
isn’t Green

Community service is punishment

Red Cross,
Peace Corps

Battered
women’s shelter

Homeless
shelter

Habitat for Humanity

Teach for
America

Community activities/Rotary

Rotary is good
for business

Rotary is a bore

What is Rotary and who cares?

Beach sweep, neighborhood cleanup

You must vote

Vote if it’s convenient

Vote if you
want to

Vote but it’s private

Vote your
issues

Family first

Family and
friends

Family and
friends

My friends are
my family

Want multi- generational
family

Quality first;
buy American

Prestige first; Foreign is better

Get it at
the Gap

Cheap:
Value added

Get it at Abercrombie’s

© 1999 Marilyn Moats Kennedy

The youngest group of orthopaedic surgeons, which will constitute a significant portion of the workforce by 2005, is composed of the so-called cuspers, busters and netsters. . . those physicians born after 1960. This group of physicians, when contrasted with earlier groups–called pre-boomers and boomers–tends to be motivated less by what others think and more by principle, lifestyle and state-of-the-art technical advances. Also, it tends to prefer to work in small groups on issues of personal importance (Table 4).

(Table 4) Motivation

Pre-Boomer 1934—1945

Boomer 1946—1959

Cusper
1960—1968

Buster
1969—1978

Netsters
1979—1984+

Money

Responsibility

Public

Recognition

Accomplishment

Desire to lead

Control

Organizational

loyalty

More money

Promotion

Public

Recognition

Peer

Recognition

Desire for

Subordinates

Control Loyalty to self

Do well by doing good

Meeting organizational goals

Recognition from boss

Bonuses

Stock options

Time off

Meeting own goals

Recognition from boss

Skills training

Stock options

Mentoring

Time off

Portable skills

Training

Meeting own goals

Stock options

Mentoring

Prepare for self-employment

Sales

training

© 1999 Marilyn Moats Kennedy

When a new Academy Task Force, the AAOS in 2005, was asked to consider the most important issues confronting orthopaedics over the next five years, the social and work characteristics of the next generation of orthopaedic surgeons was quickly identified as a subject of prime importance. Data considered by the workforce demonstrated, for instance, that the boomers (born between 1946-59) were 32 percent, and pre-boomers (1934-45) were 50 percent computer-enabled, compared to busters and netsters (1969-84), who were 80+ percent computer-competent. Moreover, when the interests of the youngest generation of orthopaedic surgeons were considered together with the growing impact of the information revolution, it became increasingly clear why the AAOS needed to consider the values of the next generation seriously.

The AAOS undertook a substantial research initiative to determine whether or not the observations that have been made on generational differences in society in general were relevant to our members. The studies included a pre-assessment of more than 85 attitude statements, 75 telephone pre-tests, and a factor analysis, followed by two focus groups and a survey mailed to more than 2,000 members.

The findings support the concept that there are substantial differences among Academy fellows based on age and on other factors, and that significant gaps exist among Academy offerings in areas of prime importance, particularly to our youngest members. The single most important gap, emphasized by more than 90 percent of respondents, was the paucity of educational resources in the new media. Respondents stated, for instance, that they would value an educational initiative consisting of a single online search engine, with data organized by operative procedure with hyperlinks to support materials. In addition, approximately 70 percent of respondents asked for new online programs to assist with practice management issues ranging from expense and productivity benchmarks to coding and compliance assistance.

During the past several months, the Academy has been responding actively. Early initiatives, focused on the development of innovative new programs in education, practice and research, include an ambitious technically savvy offering, called Orthopaedic Knowledge Online. This program, which incorporates features such as an hierarchical structure with constant updateability, will be made available to Academy fellows in approximately one year. Other new online initiatives include the construction of a new building on our virtual campus, one which will monitor advances in orthopaedic practice and will provide information on the most useful innovations that become available in the marketplace.

The AAOS in 2005 Task Force was asked to extend its efforts by determining if the structure of our organization was capable of continuously responding to the challenges presented by this new generation of members. During the past nine months, the task force has studied the literature on modern organizational structure and has heard from authorities on professional organizations like ours. An intense reassessment of how the Academy works culminated in an early March Board of Directors’ discussion that outlined a new set of organizational principles. The principles stress the importance of developing an effective leadership training program for young orthopaedic surgeons, of injecting the perspective of younger members more effectively throughout the organization, and of providing greater flexibility in allowing orthopaedic surgeons of all ages to participate more actively on issues in which they have personal knowledge, experience and interest. The latter concept calls for the development of a new organizational unit, called a project team, which is designed to address isolated questions, quickly and effectively, by accessing the most competent, skilled and interested of our members in timely focused efforts.

The Board’s Spring Workshop will be devoted to determining how the AAOS can be structured optimally to take these initiatives to the next level, providing increasing sustained benefit to all Academy fellows. In doing so, novel ways of determining a member’s areas of special competence and interest, including the development of a skills database, will be explored. In addition, the characteristics of an ideal Board of Directors in 2001 will be considered, including the appropriate size, competency and diversity for volunteer organizations in 2001.

The AAOS in 2005 program constitutes one of the most intensive, sustained strategic planning efforts to have been undertaken by the Academy in recent years. The extent to which it is successful will be measured, ultimately, by the ways in which the talents and abilities of our youngest members become incorporated more fully and effectively throughout our organization.

Richard H. Gelberman, MD
President


Home Previous Page