Nowadays, companies find themselves handling four generations of American workers. Each group has its own distinctive characteristics, ethics, and approaches toward work, based on its generation’s life experiences. Let’s take a look at the 4 generations in the workplace and how they interact with one another:
Veterans (Born between 1925 and 1946)
Baby Boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964)
Generation Xers (Born between 1965 and 1980)
Generation Ys or Millennials (born after 1980)
As these four generations collide in the workplace, companies can no longer abide by traditional rules of leadership and management. In order to stop the generational collisions from happening, managers and leaders must first understand each of these groups more in detail.
Veterans are considered among the most loyal workers. They are highly dedicated but they are very conservative and not willing to take risks.
- Baby Boomers are reaching the traditional retirement age,while many are continuing to work well into their 60s and 70. They are the first generation to vigorously proclaim a higher priority for work over personal life.
- Generation X, so-called “slackers” are responsible for creating the work/life balance model. This generation of workers holds strong technical skills and is much more independent than the prior generations.
- Millennials focus on company values and they like to feel that they have a sense of purpose and are contributing to a greater goal. They bring new skills and ideas to the workplace.
The goal is bringing people together and giving them opportunities to share their knowledge without frustrating one another. A big source of frustration for senior staff is the “showing off” attitude by the youngsters as they demonstrate their extensive technical skills and knowledge on technology openly. Younger generations are expecting seniors to coach and mentor them and not so much “supervise” them.
Seniors, on the other hand, can be seen by the former, as entitled and over-confident due to the many years of experience that the younger generation lacks. They believe in supervision and in making things “their” way, causing friction and developing a gap between them and the younger workers.
According to Carol Hacker, human resource expert, “HR managers will need to focus less on how entry-level employees are hired, and more on how they’re retained. While HR Managers may be tempted to avoid hiring Millennials altogether, keep in mind that there are almost twice as many Generation Y-ers compared to their X-Gen predecessors.”
They key to finding a solution to frustration at the workplace, is that corporations embrace diversity among the different generations and build a flexible work atmosphere that values everyone’s input by keeping everyone productive, regardless of age.
Younger workers can offer senior staff members tips and awareness on technology, while senior members can share deeper industry knowledge or offer guidance on negotiation and benefits. This way they are both benefiting from their knowledge and experience creating a more cohesive and peaceful workplace.