“Workers walk the same halls, but are separate generational societies.” Randstad 2008 World of Work Survey
One out of four human resource professionals report witnessing intergenerational conflicts among workers.Source: Society for Human Resource Management
“Generational differencesare often about perspective and how things should be done. It’s as if everyone looks at the other group saying, ‘That’s not how I would do it.’” Randstad 2008 World of Work Survey
When you were born determines the momentous events, social trends,economic conditions, and cultural norms you experience as a young person.
1950: ‣Cold War heats up when United States convicts communist spy Alger Hiss of perjury ‣Truman orders development of hydrogen bomb ‣United States enters Korean War ‣FCC licenses first color television broadcasts ‣“Great Appalachian Storm” ravages 22 northeastern states, killing 323 people ‣Peanuts debuts in seven newspapers
1963• George Wallace becomes governor of Alabama• Betty Friedan publishes The Feminine Mystique, launching the Women’s Movement• The Beatles release their first album, Please Please Me• U.S. Postal Service introduces ZIP Codes• Coke unveils TaB, the first diet cola• Martin Luther King delivers “I Have a Dream” speech• President John F. Kennedy is assassinated
1972✓ President Nixon visits China for eight days✓ Nixon re-elected as the Watergate Scandal breaks✓ U.S. ground troops leave Vietnam✓ Atari kicks off video game craze with launch of Pong✓ Apollo 17 is last manned mission to the moon✓ Wallace is shot✓ The Boston Marathon allows women to officially compete
• 1987 Dow Jones closes above 2,000 for first time• DJ drops 22.6 percent on “Black Monday” (remains largest one-day decline)• Second “Unabomber” bomb explodes• “Baby Jessica” rescued after falling into a well• Prozac approved• Tower Commission blames President Reagan for Iran- Contra affair• World population reaches 5 billion
2001 • September 11 attacks • George W. Bush becomes president • First self-contained artificial human heart implanted • U.S. Patriot Act becomes law • Enron files bankruptcy • Timothy McVeigh is executed for Oklahoma City bombing
MILESTONE THE 21ST CENTURYmarks the first time in history that members of fourseparate generations make up the U.S. workforce
The age gap betweenF A the oldest and youngest workers in America isC T wider than ever—and likely to continue growing.
Four Generations at Work Silent Generation 1925 - 1945 Baby Boomers 1946 - 1964 Generation X 1965 - 1980 Generation Y 1981 - 2000
Generations aredetermined less by timeperiods and more by the momentous historical events that bond their members.
Having grown up inthe wake of WorldWar II, many peoplein this generationrefrained fromvoicing unpopularbeliefs for fear ofbeing consideredsubversive.
Paying Dues Perhaps more than any generation since,the Silent Generation considered adulthood a privilege—one that comes with a price.
job security Unlike their parents who might have dreamed of traveling the world or amassing corporate empires, the Silent Generation had simpler aspirations.
Midlife Crisis In the late 1970s,companies responded to an economic recession and high inflation by laying off workers in droves.
Difference of OpinionHow SG describes itself How others describe SG Ethical Excessively conforming Competent Incompetent Strong work ethic Risk-adverse Respectful of coworkers Resistant to changeAccepting of responsibility Intellectually diminishedEager to share knowledge Too old to get the job done
Two-thirds of Generation Yers say theyhave little or no weekly interaction withmembers of the Silent Generation at work. Source: Randstad, 2008 World of Work Survey
FACT:Even the youngest members of the SilentGeneration are old enough to begin collectingSocial Security—in other words, they are at ornearing what society has long consideredretirement age.
Whether because theyare leading longer, healthier lives or lacking the financialresources necessary to stopworking, many older workers are putting off retirement.
In the ten-year periodending 2007, the number of workers age sixty-five and over increased by 101 percent. Perhaps more surprising is that employment among people age seventy-five and over jumped 172 percent during the same period. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Unlike the generations thatcame before them, today’solder employees don’t feelobligated to make roomfor younger workers.
“Can they still be productive?” Frequent Question
There is an enduring and widely held belief that job performancesuffers as workers age.
Research shows that there is no correlation between age and how well employees perform their primary tasks.Source: Ng, T. W. H., & Feldman, D. C. (2008). The relationship of age to tendimensions of job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(2), 392-423.
Engage in tardiness Older workers are or absenteeism less likely to... Display workplace aggression Use drugs or alcohol at work Refrain from helping co-workers Complain(Ng & Feldman, 2008)
QUESTION? Why do those who risked their lives fighting wars to protect democracy abroad seem loath to press for equal rights at home? THEORIES Maybe World War II left the Silent Generation weary of fighting on any front. Perhaps Time was correct and the Silent Generation avoids speaking out for fear of being labeled as un-American. Or maybe the Silent Generation is not really afraid to speak up on civil rights issues—maybe its members simply like things the way they used to be.
In an American societythat increasingly appreciates cultural diversity, the Silent Generation seems highly intolerant.
Intentionally or not, members of this generation continue to use demeaning andbigoted language, employ genderand racial double standards, and show deference to white males.
The largest generation,BABY BOOMERSmake up 50 percent of the U.S. workforce.
From crowded elementary schools to depleted retirement funds, the Baby Boomer generation’s size has burdened institutional infrastructures for decades.
Baby Boomersare the generationof television,assassinations,The Beatles, theVietnam War,moonwalks,and the sexualrevolution.
Unlike their “silent” parents,Baby Boomers were not afraid to challenge cultural norms.
Whereas the Silent Generation fought a war abroad to protect freedom, Baby Boomerswaged war at home against the people and policies that limited that freedom.
“Change Agents” Civil Rights bills passed U.S. involvement in Vietnam War ended Legislation enacted barring discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual preference, physical ability, and age Movements to stop polluting the earth and to start conserving it instead Employee-focused policies, procedures, and regulations prevalent in most business organizations today
These formercrusaders went towork, putting inlong hours andchasing salariesthat would allowthem to improve ontheir parents’ lot.
Technology is botha blessing and acurse–employersexpect Xers to workanywhere andanytime, becausethey can.
XUsed to being in chargeuntil mom or dad camehome from work, Gen Xersprefer working independently. Gen
Titles and power hold littleappeal for Gen Xers. And beingless ambitious in the traditional corporate sense frees them toact fearlessly when challenging the status quo or bypassing the chain of command.
Gen Xers realize that there is no such thing asjob security. So they seek career security instead.
The average Gen Xer changesjobs every eighteen months. Source: Appelbaum, S. H., Serena, M., & Shapiro, B. T. (2004) Generation X and the boomers: Organizational myths and literary realities. Management Research News, 27(11/12), 1-28.
85Percent of HR executives who feel that millennials havea stronger sense of entitlement than older workers do. -CareerBuilder.com
The September 11 terrorist attacks,Columbine high school massacre, andKatrina all happened in their lifetime; yet optimistic aboutthey tend to begoing to college, making lots ofmoney, and being famous.
Sheltered Other wordsused to describe Spoiled Gen Yers Impatient Disrespectful Blunt Diverse Thin-skinned Wanted
Striving to be friends withtheir children, parents givekids significant influence infamily decision-making.
SOME MANAGERS COMPLAIN THAT YERSARE TOO BLUNT.THEY WANT INSTANT FEEDBACK, SO THEYGIVE IT IN RETURN.
Sol√ e f∅r whyIn 1968, 18 percent of American college freshmanhad achieved an A average in high school.By 2004, that figure was 48 percent.During that same period, SAT scores decreased. SOURCE: Twenge, J. M. (2006). Generation me: Why today’s young Americans are more confident, assertive, entitled—and more miserable than ever before. New York: Free Press.
In a 2008 survey conducted by theJosephson Institute, 64 percent of highschool students said they cheated on atest in the past year, and 38 percentsaid they cheated more than once.**However, 26 percent confessed to lying on the survey.
Bred for SuccessHighly educated; pressured to achieve
Used to feelingspecialand receiving praise,Gen Yers do not takecriticism well.
“Generation Yhas been calledthe least stablegenerational groupand the mostwilling to job-hop.”Randstad, 2008 World of Work Survey, p. 27
The Netter Paradox “The money’s good. But won’t you just downsize me, too?”
Ron Alsop, The Trophy Kids Grow Up“It may seem obvious that employees should show up on time, limit lunchtime to an hour, and turn off cellphones during meetings. But those basics aren’t necessarily apparent to many millennials.”
One thing that hasn’tchanged: Silent Generation workers continue to value long-term job security
Boomers Crave Relevance Baby Boomers rightfully consider themselves highly knowledgeable about how their workplaces function; although they’re willing to share that knowledge, their younger co-workers (and bosses!) seem uninterested in listening or learning.
Recession WearySome Gen Xers are experiencing their third economic recession since launching their careers. They are likely to feel “stuck” intheir jobs—and be hesitant to ask for anything more. Leaders could easily misread a Gen Xer’s silence as job satisfaction.
Give it to ‘em straight Gen Yers want straight talk (no jargon!), ongoing feedback, encouragement, and recognition.
When selecting employers, job candidates fromall generations are focusing less on the financial rewards and more on the values rewards.
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