Current Topic 4: Odd Couples

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Current Topic 4: Odd Couples

A 29-year-old and a 68-year-old. How much could they possibly have in common? And what could they learn from each other? At Randstad USA’s Manhattan office, such employee pairings are common. One such pair of colleagues sits inches apart facing each other. “They hear every call the other makes. They read every e-mail the other sends or receives. Sometimes they finish each other’s sentences.”

Randstad Holding NV, a Dutch company, has been using this pairing idea since its founding more than 40 years ago. The founder’s motto was “Nobody should be alone.” The original intent was to boost productivity by having sales agents share one job and trade off job responsibilities. Today, these partners in the home office have an arrangement where one is in the office one week while the other one is out making sales calls, then the next week, they switch. The company brought its partner arrangement to the United States in the late 1990s. But when it began recruiting new employees, the vast majority of whom were in their twenties, it realized the challenges and the potential of pairing different generations together. “Knowing that these Gen Yers need lots of attention in the workplace, Randstad executives figured that if they shared a job with someone whose own success depended on theirs, they were certain to get all the nurturing they required.”

Pairing different generations together at work . . . and making it work!

Randstad doesn’t simply pair up people and hope it works. There’s more to it than that! The company looks for people who will work well with others by conducting extensive interviews and requiring job applicants to shadow a sales agent for half a day. “One question Randstad asks is: What’s your most memorable moment while being on a team? If they respond ‘When I scored the winning touchdown,’ that’s a deal killer. Everything about our organization is based on the team and group.” When a new hire is paired with an experienced agent, both individuals have some adjusting. One of the most interesting elements of Randstad’s program is that neither person is “the boss.” And both are expected to teach the other.

Prepare a 2-page paper answering the following questions.  Remember, use 10-12 pt font and APA format!  Feel free to bring in outside data/sources, but please provide citations and a list of references.

  1.   What do you think about this pairing-up idea? Would you be comfortable with such an arrangement? Why or why not?
  2. What personality traits would be most needed for this type of work arrangement? Why?
  3. What types of issues might a Gen Y employee and an older, more-experienced employee face? How could two people in such a close-knit work arrangement deal with those issues? That is, how could both make the adjustment easier?


Current Topic 4: Odd Couples

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