Labor Day: Which Employers Do Baby Boomers Most Admire?

Baby boomers' most admired employers

Baby boomers’ most admired employers. Source: Morning Consult.

Which companies would you be proud to work for? Market research firm Morning Consult recently asked over 220,000 Americans that question, and the results can tell us a lot about how different generations view the world of work.

First, there was substantial overlap between baby boomers (born 1946–64) and other generations. Amazon, Walt Disney, Apple, Google, and Microsoft appeared among the top ten employers for all three demographics (boomers, Gen X, and millennials). Boomers ranked Amazon #1, while both the other generations ranked it #3. Google nabbed the top ranking for millennials and Gen Xers, while for boomers it was #7.

Where boomers differed was the inclusion of heavy industrial manufacturers in the list. Harley-Davidson, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and John Deere all made our top ten, and Caterpillar followed closely at #11. None of these companies made the millennials’ top 10, and only Harley and Deere cracked the Gen X list.

Analyzing the results, Morning Consult turned to University of Puget Sound researcher Leon Grunberg, who said that boomers are “more tied to the past” when industrial products made by Boeing and Caterpillar were bulwarks of the economy. He also noted that these companies represented a “social welfare” model, in which bigger manufacturers would hire workers for life and provide them with a decent standard of living. “You’d give lifelong loyalty to a company and in return you got security for your life.” He added that that social contract has disintegrated since the 1980s.

Commenting on the results, Inc.’s Geoffrey James said that such surveys are “more a measure of brand familiarity and product attractiveness rather than an informed desire to work for a certain company.” Men who chose Harley-Davidson, for example, were probably thinking about an “employee discount on a cool set of wheels rather than the company’s decade-long series of layoffs.”

Vote for your own most admired employer on our home page this week.

Retrospect Changed My Life

Suzy doing yoga in Mexico

Retrospect, the new, free website that helps baby boomers capture and pass on their stories, has attracted a vibrant and committed community of storytellers. We recently caught up with Suzy, a retired attorney from Sacramento, who told us why she has become a Retrospect fan and regular contributor.

Retrospect: Suzy, thanks for talking to us today. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Suzy: I was born and raised in New Jersey, went to Radcliffe College and the University of California, Davis, School of Law. I practiced law for 30 years in Sacramento, and then retired at age 55. I have a husband and three grown children.

Retrospect: The Internet is a big place. Why spend your time on Retrospect?

Suzy: As a baby boomer, now retired and an empty nester, I have lots of activities to fill my time, but none as rewarding as writing for Retrospect. Retrospect changed my life.

Retrospect: That’s high praise! How did it do that?

Suzy: One way is that it introduced me to a community of writers who have become valued friends. Another is that by writing every week I have become a better writer. A third is that it has inspired me to delve into many experiences from my past that I might never have remembered if it had not been for a Retrospect prompt.

Retrospect: Why do you want to tell your stories now?

Suzy: I feel that it is important for me to write down these memories, because even though my children are not interested now, I think they will be some day, and by then I may not remember, or may not even be around. I wish my parents and grandparents had had a place like this to share their memories.

Retrospect: What do you like about it?

Suzy: I have rediscovered the joy of writing for its own sake, which I had when I was a teenager, and then lost after years when I wrote because I had to, for college, graduate school, and a long professional career. Now I am excited to sit down and write a new story for Retrospect.

Retrospect: How does Retrospect inspire your writing?

Suzy: Being given a prompt every week gives me a focus to write about. Although people are also welcome to write on any topic they choose, I’m not creative enough to come up with my own topics. As I mentioned, the prompts they provide almost always trigger important memories for me.

Retrospect: What is your experience with the Retrospect community?

Suzy: Getting comments on my stories from the other writers at Retrospect is part of my incentive for writing. It is always so satisfying to read what they have to say about what I have written. On three different occasions, my story has led another author to write a story in response to mine, which is also extremely gratifying.

Retrospect: One story that particularly moved us was This Story is Not About Cooking, in which you reported that you shared some of your Retrospect stories with your mother in her final days. Of the stories you have posted on Retrospect, which is your favorite?

Suzy: Asking me which is my favorite story is like asking me which of my children is my favorite! I don’t think I can pick one. But if I had to choose a couple that would give people a taste of Retrospect, I would pick one I wrote about my grandparents (Those Were the Days, My Friend) and one about singing at Tanglewood when I was in college (To Sing in Perfect Harmony). I read both of those to my mother when she was ill, and she loved them, so of course that makes them special to me.

Our thanks to Suzy for sharing her experience, and for being a valued member of the Retrospect community.

What’s your story? Share it on Retrospect.