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Generational Differences in the Workplace

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1 Generational Differences in the Workplace
There is an old adage that says, “Everyone is part of something greater than one’s self.” This saying rings true, as we are all a part of a family, neighborhood, sports team, religion, or workplace. But perhaps the largest group with which we are associated, and probably the one that influences most who we are, is a generation. Throughout history generations have clashed with one another, their differences causing conflict and misunderstanding between the young and the old, parents and their children, or even generation to generation. Though generational diversity is not a new phenomenon, the recent attention given to its effects in the workplace is new. The American workforce today is more diverse than ever with a mix of gender, race, and ethnicity. However, generational diversity has come to the forefront in recent years, creating new tensions, challenges, and opportunities in the work environment. Exploding in the 1990s, this issue has continued to grow and change as now a fourth generation is joining the ranks of the working. In order for companies to survive in the future they must have a clear understanding of generational differences, including what causes them; how they manifest themselves in the workplace; and how this knowledge can be used to develop new strategies to attract, retrain, and manage their employees. James Smith Mary Wolf Katy Wolfrom

2 Generations in the Workplace
Traditionalists (born before 1946) Baby Boomers (born ) Generation X (born ) Millennials (born ) This is the first time in American history that we have four different generations working along side of each other in the workplace. The traditional roles in the workplace have also undergone a change that has caused additional stress in the workplace. The traditional hierarchal chain of power in the workplace: Oldest – CEO, upper management Middle age – middle management Youngest – labor force which was based on paying your dues and slowly working your way up the ladder: has given way to an environment where the roles are all over the place. Now it is not uncommon for Generation X or even Y may be in a position of power over older employees.

3 Why Learn About the Generations?
Gain an understanding of the changing demographics Understand its impact in the workplace Increase communication and effective management Promote teamwork

4 Current Structure of the Workplace

5 Changing Workforce Structure
Employers need to plan for this impending shift in the generational structure of the workplace by changing their current policies for attracting, retaining, and managing employees. There is no coincidence that new programs that address lifestyle changes, work/life balance, and health and fitness, which were not previously considered key benefits, are now the primary consideration of potential employees

6 Generational Differences
The events and conditions each of us experience during our formative years help define who we are and how we view the world. The ‘core values’ and attitudes that we develop as a result manifest themselves in the workplace and can cause conflict. ancient saying, “people resemble their times more than they resemble their parents”

7 Borrowing an Analogy from Nature:
You can compare members of the same generation to trees that were planted in the same year….. Let us take a look at each generation, what events they have in common, and how these events have shaped the “core values” of that generation.

8 Traditionalists – Age 62 +
*Events & Experiences Great Depression New Deal World War II Korean War *Values Hard work Dedication & sacrifice Respect for rules Duty before pleasure Honor

9 Baby Boomers – Age 43-61 *Events & Experiences Civil rights
Sexual revolution Cold War Space travel Assassinations TV in every home Vietnam War *Values Optimism Team orientation Personal gratification Involvement Personal growth

10 Generation X – Age 28-42 *Events & Experiences Fall of Berlin Wall
Watergate Women’s liberation Desert Storm Energy crisis Challenger explosion Oil embargo *Values Diversity Techno literacy Fun and informality Self-reliance Pragmatism

11 Millennials – Age 13-27 *Events & Experiences *Values School Shootings
Oklahoma City Technology Child focused world Clinton/Lewinsky 9/11 Iraq War Hurricane Katrina *Values Optimistic Feel civic duty Confident Achievement oriented Respect for diversity

12 Generational Work Traits
Workplace Characteristics Veterans Baby Boomers Generation X Generation Y Work Ethic and Values Hard work Respect authority Sacrifice Duty before fun Adhere to rules Workaholics Work efficiently Crusading causes Personal fulfillment Desire quality Question authority Eliminate the task Self-reliance Want structure and direction Skeptical What’s next Multitasking Tenacity Entrepreneurial Tolerant Goal Oriented Work Is… An obligation An exciting adventure A difficult challenge A contract A means to an end Fulfillment Leadership Style Directive Command and control Consensual Collegial Everyone is the same Challenge others Ask why *TBD Interactive Style Individual Team player Loves to have meetings Entrepreneur Participative Communications Formal Memo In person Direct Immediate Vmail Feedback and Rewards No news is good news Satisfaction in a job well done Don’t appreciate it Money Title recognition Sorry to interrupt, but how am I doing? Freedom is the best reward Whenever I want it, at the push of a button Meaningful work Messages that Motivate Your experience is respected You are valued You are needed Do it your way Forget the rules You will work with other bright, creative people Work and Family Life Ne’er the twain shall meet No balance Work to live Balance Let us examine how these core values manifest themselves in the workplace in the form of work traits, values, ethics, leadership, work/life balance, and how the generations differ in what motivates them and how they like to be rewarded. Veterans - work first attitude Boomers – live to work Generation X – work to live Millennials – live then work Source: Mixing and Managing Four Generations of Employees by George Hammill

13 Frequent Conflicts/Complaints
So I told my boss, “If you’re looking for loyalty, buy a dog.” “They have no work ethic. They’re just a bunch of slackers.” “A hiring bonus! Wet behind the ears and he wants a hiring bonus!” “I can’t believe the way he/she dresses.” “He/she is out of touch; he/she should just retire.” “He/she has no manners/does not follow proper etiquette.” If I hear “We tried that in ’87 one more time, I’ll hurl in his wrinkly old face.” He asks me, “Do you have an address?” I felt like telling him, “since you were in diapers buddy.”

14 Heathfield’s (2007) tips for managing millennials:
Provide structure. Provide leadership and guidance. Provide encouragement. Encourage teamwork. Listen. Provide challenge and change.

15 More tips: Expect them to multi-task, otherwise millennials will get bored. Expect them to use the computer, cell phone, and other electronic devices…all at once Encourage networking. Provide a life-work balanced workplace. Provide a fun, employee-centered workplace.

16 Different generations…..
…working together!

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