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Multiple Generations in the Workforce – Can’t We All Just Get Along?. Terri M. Manning, Ed.D. Center for Applied Research Central Piedmont Community College. Generations Living in America in 2009. Veterans 1925-1942 37 million living Baby Boomer 1943 – 1965 79 million living

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multiple generations in the workforce can t we all just get along

Multiple Generations in the Workforce – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Terri M. Manning, Ed.D.

Center for Applied Research

Central Piedmont Community College

generations living in america in 2009
Generations Living in America in 2009
  • Veterans 1925-1942
    • 37 million living
  • Baby Boomer 1943 – 1965
    • 79 million living
  • Generation X – 1966-1981
    • 61 million living
  • Millennials – 1982 – 2002
    • 105 million living
  • Generation Z 2003-2022
    • About 21 million so far
employment by age group
Employment by Age Group

2010 Household Survey, US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

no one has seen more change than the veterans
No one has seen more change than the veterans…..
veterans how they learn
Veterans - How They Learn
  • New is not necessarily better
  • Not innovative with new ideas
  • Like structure, schedules and procedures
  • Brain processes new ideas into old mental framework
  • Some refuse to work with technology (too overwhelming a learning curve, others jump in)
  • Want clear expectations and guidelines
  • Must memorize the basics
childhood and school experiences for veterans
Childhood and School Experiences for Veterans
  • Hard work
  • Respected their elders
  • Children were to be seen and not heard
  • Some diversity in schools due to funding but segregation
  • Performance based on individual ability
  • Little feedback unless negative
  • More intrinsic reward for good performance
  • Learned from history (other’s experiences)
  • Small class size, one curriculum for all
  • No special ed (students no where in sight)
  • Virtually never tested with standardized tests – less comparison to others
values of employees in this age group
Values of Employees in this Age Group
  • Loyal to employer (company man) and expect the same in return
  • Believe they should be rewarded for tenure
  • Work ethic = efficiency and hard work
  • Stable, thorough and detail oriented
  • Don’t buck the system but work within it
  • Uncomfortable with conflict and disagreements
  • Not change oriented
how boomers learn
How Boomers Learn
  • Want things to fit into the “big picture”
  • Want recognition for how well they have done
  • Team oriented, work well in groups
  • Like to explore and analyze, look at different views
  • Follow instructions well
  • Good with content
boomer s childhood and school experiences
Boomer’s Childhood and School Experiences
  • Overwhelmed the school system, large class sizes
  • Ability grouped (red birds and blue birds)
  • Question authority but respect position
  • See life as an adventure (and school)
  • Emphasis on team work (cohort education)
  • Need silence to concentrate
  • Were told “you are lucky to be here, others are standing in line to get in.”
  • Segregated by race, the battles began for desegregation
  • No special ed students in school (in most states) but honors courses in a few subjects
  • Rarely tested and not for school performance (PSAT, SAT)
values of boomer employee
Values of Boomer Employee
  • Majority of employees (age 46-67ish)
  • Always share personal experience – “what has happened to me is relevant to you”
  • Value stability and respect
  • Like to see their successes
  • Tend to “workaholism” and have difficulty balancing their lives, working 40 hours is “slack.”
  • Are competitive
  • See themselves as the standard of comparison
  • Appreciate technology because of how easy it makes their work – still fear they might “break it” and may have a “back-up plan”
boomers at work
Boomers at Work
  • Ethic = long hours show commitment
  • Team oriented and relationship builders (don’t like conflict – can’t we all just get along)
  • Not budget minded
  • Sensitive to feedback
how gen xers learn
How Gen Xers Learn
  • Task oriented – like to learn new skills
  • Speed is important
  • Self-paced learning, independent learning
  • Want to have fun while they learn
  • Informal learning environments are best
  • Hate group work
  • Want feedback from teacher
gen x childhood and school experiences
Gen X Childhood and School Experiences
  • Learned to rely on self (less patience with teams)
  • Distrust authority
  • Seek challenging environment (career education emphasis)
  • Want feedback on progress
  • Want to do things their way – like no rules and freedom on assignments
  • Had special ed classrooms in school but separated
  • Had honors programs
  • Funding cut to education
  • Testing “mania” began with them
  • First daycare centers and latch-key kids (high divorce)
  • Some diversity, began earnest desegregation in schools
gen xers as employees
Gen Xers as Employees
  • Significant number of employees (age 29-45ish)
  • Cynical and pessimistic
  • Want work-life balance
  • Think globally and seek independence
  • Like technology and want an informal work environment
  • Don’t want the boomers’ work ethic
  • Communication is important and talk to adults as friends/peers (not impressed with authority)
  • Believe reward should be based on productivity not hours worked
  • Want control of self, time and future
  • Loyalty to people not a company
  • Impatient with poorer people skills
the echo boom millennials
The Echo Boom/Millennials…
  • The Millennialsare almost as large as the baby boom-some say larger - depending on how you measure them (approx. 81M). Keep growing due to immigration.
  • The Millennials are the children born between 1982 and 2002 (peaked in 1990), a cohort called by various names:

Echo Boom



Net Generation

things began to change for this generation
Things Began to Change for This Generation
  • Abortion rates peaked in 1980 and began a slow decline.
  • Poverty rate for children peaked in 1983 and began a slow decline (Medicaid began).
  • US divorce rate peaked in 1981 and began a decline.
  • Homicide rate against children peaked in 1982 and began a decline.
  • They were born into a better world, a more optimistic world than the generation before them.
what we know
What We Know
  • 35% are non-White
  • 1 in 5 has at least one parent who is an immigrant
  • Have the best educated mothers in history
  • Have better educated parents
  • Came out of the infertility era – were very wanted as children
  • Grew up during a monumental financial boom
  • Safest generation we have seen
what we know31
What We Know
  • Born to older parents and raised in smaller families (lots of only children) – many have never shared a room
  • Been plugged in since they were babies
  • Expect technology to be free
  • Think it is cool to be smart
  • Have had cell phones since they were children
  • Expect to have 4 or more jobs in their lifetime
  • Are as interested in where they live as what they do – so cities are working to attract them
technology changes
Technology Changes
  • Cell Phones
    • 92% of people have cell phones (2007). Expect to be in contact 24/7.
    • Not a phone – a lifestyle management tool
    • Staying “connected” is essential.
    • Communication is a safety issue for parents.
  • Communication has become casual for millennials (IM, email, texting and cell phones.
most used cell phone features
Most Used Cell Phone Features

children and teens and technology
Children and Teens and Technology

Children and Teens on the Computer

Cell Phone Usage

Source: Los Angeles Times

  • The typical American teen sends 50 messages a day or 1,500 a month.
  • 31% of teens send and receive more than 100 messages a day (3,000 a month.)
  • 65% of high school students use cell phones in school, 25% text in class.
  • 86% of adults have cell phones.
mobile devices
Mobile Devices
  • 25% of Americans 12 and older have listened to audio from an iPod.
  • 18% of 8-18 year-olds have iPods/MP3 Players in 2004 – 76% by 2009.
  • 26% of people read news on a mobile device. The average American digests 34 gigabytes of information outside of work daily,
  • More than 500 million members on Facebook and 100 million access Facebook from a mobile device
daily technology media use
Daily Technology/Media Use

Kaiser Generation M2-Kids/Youth/Media Survey (Jan. 2010)

social networking
Social Networking
  • The world spends 110 billion minutes on social-media and blog sites. This equates to 22% of all the time online or 1 in every 4 ½ minutes.
  • These sites were visited by 75% of the global consumers who go online. The average visitor spends almost 6 hours a month.
  • Facebook passed the 500 million user mark in July 2010.
  • 50% of Americans have profiles on social networking sites.


common sense media poll aug 2009
Common Sense Media Poll (Aug. 2009)
  • Teen social networking by the numbers -
  • 51 Percentage of teens check their sites more than once a day.
  • 22 Percentage check their sites more than 10 times a day.
  • 39 Percentage have posted something they later regretted.
  • 37 Percentage have used the sites to make fun of other students.
  • 25 Percentage have created a profile with a false identity.
  • 24 Percentage have hacked into someone else's social networking account.
  • 13 Percentage have posted nude or seminude pictures or videos of themselves or others online.
influenced by customer service movement
Influenced by Customer Service Movement
  • Expect what they paid for
  • Everyone should be concerned that they are satisfied and happy
  • If they are not happy with your answer, they will go over your head
  • Expect colleges to bend over backwards to please them
  • Not the way it works in higher education
  • Savvy consumers and will stay under your radar as long as possible
millennial childhood and school experiences
Millennial Childhood and School Experiences
  • Many private schools, charter schools, magnet schools – all to meet the needs of the individual child –many, many choices
  • School uniforms, child safety, high performance standards, character education, cooperative learning and community service
  • Goal oriented – outcome based education (what’s in it for me)
  • School is a means to an end – one must endure until the next level
  • Interactive, participatory and engaging – are consulted by adults
  • Everything 24/7 and available electronically
millennial school experiences
Millennial School Experiences
  • No “grunt work” - must do “meaningful work”, participate in decisions
  • International flavor, celebrate diversity, different is okay
  • Motivated by working with bright, motivated and moral people
  • Student makes judgments about truth and believability of what is taught
  • Classroom mainstreamed – multiple levels based on ability and interest
  • Constantly tested and compared to peers (learned to take tests so now of little use for college admissions)
  • Feel pressure for high achievement
how millennials learn
How Millennials Learn
  • Try it their way – always looking for better, faster way of doing things
  • Prefer graphics before text, reading of excerpts
  • Like small and fast processing technology – best when networked
  • Want instant gratification and frequent rewards (spot)
how millennials learn45
How Millennials Learn
  • Focus on skill development – not memorization of what they perceive they don’t need to know
  • Productivity is key – not attendance – so make class worthwhile or they won’t come
  • Have different critical thinking skills based on their high tech world not thought processing (need help here)
  • Rely on teacher to facilitate learning
  • Group think and interaction
millennials not very hardy
Millennials - Not Very Hardy
  • Our parents told us “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
  • Their philosophy “when the going gets tough, it means you should try another route” and “if at first you don’t succeed, maybe you shouldn’t be here.”
  • They have trouble staying in rigid and non-flexible environments.
focus on retention
Focus on Retention
  • “Ambitious yet aimless” characterizes this generation
    • They work for a while until they save enough money to live for a while, then quite – play for several months and then look for work again.
    • They know at the age of 21 that they may have to work until they are 70 – 75. So why hurry into a career job now.
    • They have the same attitude with school.
    • They stop out regularly and see if things work out. They appear to be in “no hurry.”
    • They swirl….
how to attract millennials to jobs
How to Attract Millennials to Jobs
  • When looking for a job, they think they are not having the right conversations.
  • Instead of talking about roles and job titles, talk about values and skills.
    • “I don’t care is you call me a business analyst or consultant, I just want my job to: 1) allow me to do problem solving, 2) work in a democratic organization, and 3) empower the workers to affect change, etc.”

Source: 20 Somethings Success: A Guide to Corporate Success for 20 Somethings.

in an add
In An Add
  • Describe what the potential hire should value and what skills they should have.
    • “You’re relentlessly positive.”
    • “You are comfortable with ambiguity, and imagine alternative possible outcomes.”
    • “Someone who is largely self-motivated, who finds satisfaction in reaching self-imposed goals, and is willing to regularly raise the bar on those goals.”

Source: 20 Somethings Success: A Guide to Corporate Success for 20 Somethings.

cities are trying to attract them
Cities are Trying to Attract Them
  • Some things suggested are:
    • Improving schools
    • Vitalize downtown areas
    • Advertise the cultural fabric of the area
    • Encourage diversity
    • Bars specializing in local beers
    • Mass transit, bike lanes
    • Local food sources
one major benefit technology in the workplace
One Major Benefit – Technology in the Workplace
  • The company should:
    • Develop a policy that outlines corporate guidelines for communicating in the online world
    • Build a centralized hub for employees to communicate both internally and externally
    • Encourage management to actively spread the message through social media

Source: Steve McAbee, iMedia Connection, February 3, 2010.

these employees can become agents of your brand via technology
These Employees can become agents of your brand via technology
  • Five tips on how to create a brand ambassador program:
  • Develop a social media policy

Outline corporate guidelines for communicating online

structure instead of direction – they will be more


  • Offer Training

Learn how to start the conversation, various social media tools based on target audiences

tips on a brand ambassador program
Tips on a Brand Ambassador Program

3. Provide a centralized site

Provide a place where they can communicate

internally and externally, gives the company

insight into what employees are thinking, key

words used in conversation

4. Lead by example

Management should actively participate. Provide employees with information about cutting edge tools and new trends. A good internal conversation can take place providing additional guidance and direction to employees to want to participate online.

tips on a brand ambassador program54
Tips on a Brand Ambassador Program
  • Reward influencers

Reward those who build influence, give them what they value – info about what is going on in the company – how they help the bottom line.

Source: Steve McAbee, iMedia Connection, February 3, 2010.

eleven tips for millennial management
Eleven Tips for Millennial Management
  • Provide structure – reports, deadlines, clear goals, expectations. Frequent communication about the rules and structured career path
  • Provide leadership and guidance – they want to look up to and admire you. They want in on the “whole” picture. Teach, coach and give them your best investment of time. They expect a relationship with their boss and are more trusting of authority figures.
tips continued
Tips, continued
  • Encourage the millennials’ self-assuredness, “can-do” attitude, and positive personal self-image – encourage them, don’t squash or contain them. Want to express their opinion.
  • Take advantage of their comfort with teams. Encourage them to join – they believe teams can accomplish more and better things. Mentor, coach and train them as a team use multi-generational teams.
tips continued57
Tips, continued
  • Listen to the millennial employee – they had loving parents who listened to them and don’t like being ignored. Expect mentoring – want to feel like they matter.
  • Millennial employees are up for a challenge and change – boring is bad. They seek change and challenge, the next thing…. Want to know how their work is going to help the company.
tips continued58
Tips, continued
  • Millennials are multi-taskers – want different tasks and goals to pursue weekly – if not they get bored.
  • Take advantage of their computer, cell phone and electronic literacy – the world is wide but not too deep for millennials.
  • Capitalize on their affinity for networking – like to network around the world electronically. Are loyal but will keep their options open.
tips continued59
Tips, continued
  • Provide a life-work balance in the workplace – they work hard but are not into 60 hour work weeks. Home, family, children and friends are their life. Get them involved in community service.
  • Provide a fun, employee-centered workplace – they want to enjoy their work, make friends at work. Help long-term employees make room for them. Worry if they are not laughing, planning office events, going out to lunch with workmates, etc.

Source: Susan Heathfield,, Managing Millennials: Eleven Tips for Managing Millennials,

copy of presentation
Copy of Presentation:
  • Click on presentations and workshops
  • It is under “keynotes for business/industry groups”
  • Contact
  • Terri Manning, Ed.D
  • (704)330-6592