It is becoming a struggle in the workplace as we move into the 21st century and jobs are becoming scarce while the creative economy is thriving. Or is it? In an economy that can be overcrowded with ideas and pitches happening day and night, how do you set yourself apart? A core challenge over the next decade will be to attract and retain a skilled workforce as the labor market continues to tighten, technology continues to evolve, and fewer foreign students immigrate for job opportunities. This situation is exacerbated as companies find themselves managing four generations of workers. There is much agreement in business about generational diversity in the new millennium for workers. First, many business researchers agree that there are four very different generations in the workplace: the Veterans, the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. Second, many business leaders and managers agree that getting these groups to work together effectively is challenging. Finally, many workers agree that the different generations look at each other with confusion and suspicion as they interact together in the workplace.
A new problem
There is a serious new problem in the workplace and it has nothing to do with downsizing, global competition, pointy-haired bosses, stress or greed. Instead, it is the problem of distinct generations (Veterans, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y) working together and often colliding as their paths cross. Individuals with different values, different ideas, different ways of getting things done and different ways of communicating in the workplace have always existed. As a result, generations are colliding in the workplace and business professionals are working hard to contain the organizational damage that occurs. Managers and leaders must first understand each of these groups before they can stop generational collisions from occurring in the workplace. Leaders must remain open to new ideas and provide constant feedback, working with managers and staff to shape the company’s strategic vision. They must avoid projecting their own expectations about work and remain open to different perspectives based on generational attitudes. With the variety of multigenerational employees in today’s workplace, companies can no longer abide by traditional rules of leadership and management. Organizations can achieve real strategic advantage by embracing the diversity among generations to create a flexible work environment that values all people and keeps them productive, regardless of age.
Veterans, Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y workers are very different and this makes for interesting group dynamics. Defined by their age, date of birth and critical societal events, each generation brings its own strengths and limitations to the workplace. By understanding the strengths, limitations and values of each generation, managers and leaders can minimize generational collisions. In doing so, managers and leaders will avoid the organizational conflict, employee turnover and lost productivity that occurs when business professionals are unaware of the differences of the four generations in the workplace.
While the above descriptions are generalizations, everyone will think independently from each other.
In order to create an environment conducive to productivity, the best way to engage everyone from each generation is to host meetings to discuss the needs and lifestyles of each employee. Having open communication and utilizing each generation’s strengths will produce the ideal workplace for all current employees and attract other talent.
Feel free to experiment with mixed age groups. Pairing up people from different generations strengthen the positive attributes from each.
Coordinate surveys among your employees to get a feel for your employees’ needs.
Develop an incentive plan that pertains to the different interests, based on where your employees are in their lives.< Back