For the first time in history, 4 generations are working together in the same job market – often in the same work place.
Economy Events Each generation is shaped by specific external events… Culture
When considering generational differences, certain generalizations are utilized. Not everyone in a specific generation will exhibit all of these characteristics, but most will exhibit some of these traits.
TRADITIONALISTS Who Are They? Born pre-1946 52 Million 5-7% of the workplace Hold close to 2/3 of nation’s financial assets Matures/veterans/The Silents Critical Historical Influences Depression New Deal World War II Korean War Strengths Disciplined Experienced Committed Cultural Factors American Age Economic deprivation to wealth Family values Role of Federal government Role of Hierarchy/Authority Challenges Change Meritocracy Technology
WORKING WITH TRADITIONALISTS Appreciate and respect their experience. Provide structure and organization. Use them as mentors. Provide flexible work options to retain them. Structure technology training carefully. Human interface. Tokens that reward their experience and indicate their status.
BABY-BOOMERS Who Are They? Born 1946-1960/1964 75 million 15-55% of the workforce A new 50-year-old every 7 seconds Critical Historical Influences Civil Rights/Women’s movements Space race Vietnam Assassinations Woodstock Earth Day Strengths Residual idealism “Can Do” attitude Seek to please Cultural Factors Self awareness Post-war prosperity Indulgence/expectations Television and marketing Activism Challenges Judgmental Self-centered Control/competition
WORKING WITH BABY-BOOMERS Recognition/reward/credit Opportunity to work in teams. Work to build consensus; gather their input. Opportunities for professional and personal development. Capture their experience. Provide “soft” benefits
GENERATION X Who Are They? Born 1960/64-1979 45 million 35-45% of the workforce Critical Historical Influences Watergate American hostages in Iran Stock Market crash of 1987 Challenger disaster Fall of Berlin Wall Desert Storm Cultural Factors Economic recession Rise of personal computers Divorce & two-income families Latch-key kids AIDS Strengths Independent Results-oriented Creative/adaptable Challenges People/political savvy Impatient Cynical
WORKING WITH GENERATION X Allow autonomy FAST feedback Opportunities for continued learning and development. Notion of non-linear retention. Open communication, information flow. Flexible benefits. Access to decision-makers. Challenge, fun, excitement.
MILLENNIALS Who Are They? Born 1980 – 2000 70 million 2-5% of the workforce Critical Historical Influences Dot Com boom Roaring Nineties Oklahoma City bombing Clinton/Lewinsky Columbine Election 2000 September 11, 2001 Strengths Multi-taskers Globalized Commitment to mission Collaboration/teamwork Tolerance of differences Cultural Factors Peace Prosperity/opportunity Globalization Information revolution Diversity Challenges Lofty expectations Supervision curve Technology demanding Work-Life balance
WORKING WITH MILLENNIALS Provide structure and guidance. Provide feedback often. Provide positive reinforcement often. Ask for their input. Team orientation/collaborative work projects. Updated technology. Emphasize projects, not time. Challenge and increasing responsibility. Clear mission, policies, and values.
A Word to the Wise…. Each generation assumes that the succeeding generations will experience the same desires, have the same values and appreciate and cherish the same things, in a unchanging continuum. Cam Marston, Motivating the Workforce: What’s in it for Me?
GENERATIONAL CLASH POINTS Friction points come from many directions when all four generations share the same work space. Expectations Policies/procedures Work style Work ethic Motivation Rewards Balance Language/culture
From the Top Down Traditonalists are disciplined conformists who work well in a structured, hierarchical environment. They are in the distinct minority in the workplace, but often hold much of the authority. They are likely to mistrust the Boomers and the Xers because their basic values are not in sync. They could be excellent mentors to the Millennials because they share many of the same values. They do not understand their lack of work ethic, however, or their innate dependence on technology.
Baby Boomers Distrust Traditionalists as too conforming. Stress individuality and independence. Want to achieve success on their own. Don’t understand the skepticism of the Xers. See Xer’s as opportunists, disloyal “job-jumpers.” Do not place as much emphasis on technology as Xers and Millennials. View Millennials as spoiled.
Generation Xers View Traditionalists as out of touch and Boomers as naïve. See themselves as strong, survivors. Money is their guiding principle. Do not prefer to work in collaboration with others; do not share Millennial preference for team-work. Not afraid to buck tradition in the name of progress. What’s in it for me? Do not understand Millennial need for structure and feedback.
Millennials Entitled; don’t understand “paying dues.” Technologically savvy. Seek work-life balance. Often lack social/political skills. Want to collaborate. Lack self-confidence, but have high self-esteem. Require clear guidelines, policies, feedback. Often “manage up.”
Don’t Forget the CUSPERS! One leg in the generation before and one leg in the generation after.
What Does This Mean for Employers? This is the most recent – and perhaps the most complex- form of Diversity in the workplace . Generational Diversity. The form of diversity that affects every human being on a daily basis – generational differences. Lancaster & Stillman
What does this mean for Career Professionals? There are two main questions to address: How can we help students become better interns/employees from the first day on the job? How can we help employers understand/train their newest workers?
Our New Role in Employer Relations Building bridges between academia and the workplace.
Building Bridges in the Workplace Reduce the stereotypes, which arise from resentment. Find common ground and common values. Enlist the “Cuspers.” Identify the key organizational functions where understanding generational differences can make an impact on the bottom line: Recruiting Retaining Managing
What Does This Mean for Internship/Co-op Advisors? We are the front line of the new workplace! What we do with our students as interns will determine in large part the kind of workers they will become. How we work with on-site supervisors is critical to intern success and Could assist employers in learning how to manage Millennials. It will also determine whether or not we continue to provide internships to particular employers. There is no time to waste!
A Final Word Rather than working toward corporate cultures where everyone is becoming more similar, it’s time to search out the corners of the office for people who bring different generational perspectives to the table. Lancaster & Stillman
Recommended Reading 2007 Volunteer IMPACT Survey, Deloitte & Touche. The Wounded Healer, Generation Gaps in the Workplace, Michael E. Rock, Ph.D., 1999. MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures Encore Career Survey, 2005 and 2008. Success for Hire, Alexandra Levit, 2008. http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2012.php. Managing the Generation Mix, Carolyn A. Martin, Ph.D. and Bruce Tulgan, 2002. Managing Generation Y, Carolyn A. Martin, Ph.D. and Bruce Tulgan, 2001. When Generations Collide, Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman, 2002. Generations at Work, Ron Zemke, Clair Raines, and Bob Filipczak, 1999. From Boomers to Bloggers, Misti Burmeister, 2008.