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Multiple Generations in the Workforce – Can’t We All Just Get Along?. Terri M. Manning, Ed.D. Central Piedmont Community College. How Generational Births Will Impact Retirements. ( Millennials ). (Boomers). ( Xers ). Changes in that Workforce. Who Is Working Today?. 1,000 die per day .

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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.

Central Piedmont Community College

who is working today
Who Is Working Today?

1,000 die per day

Youngest are 5 years old

Half the size of the generations on either side of them

7,198 turned 60 every day in 2006

who are those generations
Who Are Those Generations
  • How have their early experiences impacted the workforce?
  • What values did they bring to work?
  • As generations change – does the workforce keep pace?
  • Let’s look at them…..
the veterans also known as the silent generation or the greatest generation 1925 1942 adaptive
The Veterans (also known as the Silent Generation or the Greatest Generation) 1925–1942 (adaptive)
  • Raised by the GI Generation (civic)
  • Large families (3-5 children)
  • Strong sense of extended family

(same town or home)

  • Grandparents in the home
  • Average 10-year-old spent 4-6

hours daily with a significant adult

role model

  • Rural society
  • Apprenticeship businesses and


  • Perception of the world as “safe”
  • Core Values
    • Dedication
    • Hard Work
    • Conformity
    • Law and Order
    • Patience
    • Delayed Reward
    • Duty before Pleasure
    • Adherence to Rules
    • Honor
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
school experiences for veterans
School Experiences for Veterans
  • Hard work
  • Respected their elders
  • Children were to be seen and not heard
  • Felt an obligation to make the grade
  • 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 faculty staff in this age group
Values of Faculty/Staff 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
the baby boomers 1943 1964 the largest generation idealist
The Baby Boomers 1943–1964 (the largest generation, idealist)
  • Divorce reached a low in 1960 of 9%
  • Families moved due to GI Bill, GI housing
  • and industrialization
  • First generation to live miles from
  • extended family
  • Family size smaller (2-3 children)
  • Few grandparents in the home
  • Moms stayed home, dads carpooled
  • Children spent significant time with
  • adult role models
  • Perception of the world as “safe”

Core Values


Team Orientation

Personal Gratification

Health and Wellness

Personal Growth




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 educational experiences
Boomer’s Educational 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.”
  • Want to feel valued
  • No special ed students in school but honors courses in a few subjects
  • Rarely tested and not for school performance (PSAT, SAT)
boomer faculty staff values
Boomer Faculty/Staff Values
  • Majority of faculty and significant number of students (age 45-66ish)
  • 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
The Gen Xers 1965–1981 - A Lost Generation… A Nomadic Generation….. Half the Size of the Baby Boom (reactive)
  • Divorce reached an all-time high
  • Single-parent families became the norm
  • Latch-key kids were a major issue of the time
  • Children not as valued – looked at as a hardship
  • Families spread out (miles apart)
  • Family size = 1.7 children (many only-children)
  • Perception of the world as “unsafe”
  • Average 10 year old spent 14 ½ minutes a day with a significant adult role model
  • Core Values
    • Dedication
    • Hard Work
    • Conformity
    • Law and Order
    • Patience
    • Delayed reward
    • Duty before pleasure
    • Adherence to rules
    • Honor
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
educational experiences
Educational Experiences
  • Learned to rely on self (don’t like group work)
  • 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 arose with them
  • Many latch-key kids
gen xers as faculty staff
Gen Xers as Faculty/Staff
  • Significant number of faculty and significant number of students (age 28-44ish)
  • 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 Millennials are almost as large as the baby boom-some say larger - depending on how you measure them (approx. 81M).
  • 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 know1
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
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 school experiences
Millennial 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 experiences1
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 learn1
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 classes with rigid teachers who offer them no flexibility or encouragement.
millennials not very hardy1
Millennials - Not Very Hardy
  • Seems like the tougher you are, the quicker they quit
  • Have no preconceived ideas about expectations
  • See a lack of consistency among bosses
  • Have to tell them more than the generation before them and we resent it
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….
they want to experience life
They Want to Experience Life
  • 25 years old, college graduate – moved to Charleston to live at the beach (working in whatever to live).
  • Graduated in pre-med in May 08 (23 years old) – moved to Hawaii …. surfing.
business today
Business Today…
  • Lives in a world created by generations who are (mostly, 95%) no longer working.
  • They were influenced by the military and created a workplace reflecting a hierarchy with a clear chain of command.
  • Employees worked hard to receive raises, bonuses and higher ranks. Higher rank (with the higher salary) was valued and envied by employees on their way up and held in high esteem by those at the top.
will we have a workforce shortage
Will We Have a Workforce Shortage?
  • Will the Boomers retire in droves?
  • Could see a 4-10 million worker shortage by 2010.
  • We don’t have enough well-prepared young workers.
  • Greatest needs in fields with advanced education such as nursing and education.
  • Also industries with mostly older workers such as the oil and gas industry.
older generations make assumptions
Older Generations Make Assumptions
  • That younger generations will measure success just as we have.
  • Young worker must pay their dues and follow the same paths to success as previous generations.
  • The company ladder will remain intact.
  • Workers go where the jobs are.

Marston, Cam, Motivating the “What’s In It for Me” Workforce: Managing Across the Generational Divide and Increasing Profits, 2007

what millennials want
What Millennials Want
  • Ability to work whenever and wherever they want.
  • Variation on the job
  • Continual feedback from supervisors
  • Opportunities to learn, retool and reinvent themselves
  • Challenge, new problems to solve
  • To be in charge of their lives and future

Marston, Cam, Motivating the “What’s In It for Me” Workforce: Managing Across the Generational Divide and Increasing Profits, 2007

millennials were asked
Millennials Were Asked….
  • What are the top five things that make you respect a company?
top five
Top Five
  • Give back to their community.
  • Have fair labor practices.
  • Have products and services that do what they promise to do.
  • Having products and services that truly help people in need.
  • Being “green” or “eco-friendly.”

(Just Kid Inc. KID Formation Series, July 2008, “Meet the Millennial Generation: An Explosive New Consumer Force.”)

what they are not interested in
What They Are Not Interested In
  • Time-honored traditions
  • Doing things the way they have always been done
  • Paying their dues
  • How their managers got to where they are (rank)
  • A work ethic that requires a 10 hour day
  • Unquestioning loyalty to a company

Marston, Cam, Motivating the “What’s In It for Me” Workforce: Managing Across the Generational Divide and Increasing Profits, 2007

change in values
Change in Values

Two youngest generations:

  • Define success differently
  • Their time is equal in value to money
  • Will pursue other rewards for their work
  • The company/corporate ladder has become irrelevant
  • View their predecessor’s experience as a warning, not a road map
  • Don’t value the rules of management, motivation and reward

Marston, Cam, Motivating the “What’s In It for Me” Workforce: Managing Across the Generational Divide and Increasing Profits, 2007


The two younger generations:

  • Have been given ample reason to question authority
  • Don’t believe their leaders tell the truth
  • Question the motives and truthfulness of institutions across the board
  • Invest their loyalty and trust in individuals and therefore, the right boss is critical (otherwise they change jobs, #1 reason they quit)

Marston, Cam, Motivating the “What’s In It for Me” Workforce: Managing Across the Generational Divide and Increasing Profits, 2007

what will it take for all generations to work well together
What Will It Take for All Generations to Work Well Together
  • A new understanding of what employees want from their jobs, bosses and workplace experience
  • A new understanding of loyalty and how to develop it (not through pay, promotions and benefits)
  • A new definition of self – young employees define themselves by what they do outside the job, not what they do for a living

Marston, Cam, Motivating the “What’s In It for Me” Workforce: Managing Across the Generational Divide and Increasing Profits, 2007

what will it take
What Will It Take
  • New behavior from leaders who realize younger workers enter the workforce seeking self-fulfillment and aren’t interested in “paying their dues” for an unspecified amount of time for a vague reward
  • Because young people are doing everything later – staying in school, living at home, getting married, having kids – this impacts their commitment to work

Marston, Cam, Motivating the “What’s In It for Me” Workforce: Managing Across the Generational Divide and Increasing Profits, 2007

how the younger generations will push us
How The Younger Generations Will Push Us…
  • More independence in the workforce
  • Consumer-based fairness
  • Better technology
  • Enhanced professional development
  • Get rid of “that’s the way we’ve always done it”
  • Have more life balance
  • Re-establish priorities
what we know2
What We Know
  • Times are changing – in business and society
  • So – leadership must change
  • The younger generations are working in a different economy and business world
  • They have different values and goals


copy of presentation
Copy of Presentation:
  • Click on presentations and workshops
  • It is under “keynotes for higher education”
  • Title: “Teaching Strategies for Diverse Generations”