The modern workplace is a hodgepodge of four generations; the Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers Generation X, and Millennials, all have different viewpoints, interests and approaches on working and managing. How do these differences affect a company? What do these differences bring to a workplace as strengths and as weaknesses?
The Greatest Generation is at an age where most have retired or are in high positions of power in many companies. They have endured many changes to the workforce and the economic shift from manufacturing to service, they have decades worth of experiences to fall back on with knowledge learned through all those experiences. So what generational issues in the workplace might they bring? After working for so long, it could bring stubbornness and the belief that if it has worked in the past it will continue to work in the future. This is obviously not the case, as business must adapt to the times or will be left in the past and ultimately fail. Workers from this generation as still great fonts of knowledge, advice and expertise and should be respected even though few are still in the work force. (Generational Experts)
More and more Baby Boomers are working past retirement causing more generational interactions which in turn cause generational issues in the workplace. Many Baby Boomers are more reserved with their interactions. This is seen by their preference for Phone calls and emails over text messages or direct messages used by younger generations. Most Boomers are in leadership positions at the workplaces that they are at. They set policy and might not understand or connect with younger generations as they have been in their positions for longer periods of time and weathered hardships. The most successful companies have adapted to those hardships though and have set up training that they feel comfortable with, seminars and workshops. While these are still used regularly, much of the Millennial and Generation Z workforce prefers more computer-based learning so they can practice the skills they are being taught. The most important thing for a Baby Boomer to know when dealing with these younger generations is that this workforce is even more well educated and technologically savvy than any other in history, and they are willing to learn more but expect to be given clear and set goals to maximize the effectiveness of the workers and avoid any generational issues in the workplace.
Generation X has been called the “lost Generation” or the Latch-key generation. This is due to that fact that this generation had little adult supervision compared to previous generations as more and more women entered the work force, and with increase of divorce rates of the times. This Generation is often in middle management positions as well as owners and entrepreneurs of small businesses. In 2015 55% of all new businesses started were started by Gen Xer’s. Known to epitomize the “work hard/play hard” mentality, Generation X put there head down and work hard to get what they want. Generational issues in the workplace are less then with older generations as they share traits with all the other working generations. Hard workers, who are well educated and a good understanding of technology. Generation X has come to job maturity in a recession and a housing market crash that many felt but not crippled by.
The youngest generation of workers are the Millennials and Generation Z. These new workers are viewed as lazy and unmotivated by many of the older generations. Millennials especially have been vilified as killers of brands and industries. This is unfair as many are facing issues stemming from crippling student debt and trying to enter a job market demanding experience and degrees for lower pay then would allow to establish themselves as older generations might have been able due to inflation. The best educated generations of workers use technology as second nature, they use this to help to solve problems, evaluate policies and come up with new ways of completing tasks and are comfortable thinking on a global scale. Generation Z is just coming into the work place and has less experience and may need more guidance in their positions but are inventive and are efficient multi-taskers. Most of the generational issues in the workplace come from the different view points between these younger generations who feel like they are forced to try, and fix issues created by older generations, and older generations not understanding the rate of change that has happened. The older generations may be set and settled after decades of working, the younger generations an often forced to work multiple jobs to earn enough to afford basic amenities due to the wages offered and the debt that was accumulated to get degrees needed to get their positions. In closing there are many pros and cons to having multiple generations in the same workforce as long as management can incorporate them all to get the best results out of all of the workers.