The Multi Generational Workforce


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Managing different generations in the workforce.

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  • This group doesn’t use/understand a lot of technology, but they possess a great deal of institutional knowledge and wisdom. They like structure at work and do not switch jobs.
  • Baby Boomers grew up in relative prosperity. They came of age during the 60s and 70s and considered higher education a given. Many Baby Boomers were coming of age during the civil rights era, the women’s movement and the Vietnam war.
  • This is the smallest group in numbers. They came to age during Three Mile Island and the Iranian hostage crisis. This was the first generation of “latchkey” kids.
  • This group has grown up with parental nurturing, protection from failure, and lots of praise. They are in constant communication with family and friends. However, they have, at least in the minds of some, substandard communication and problem-solving skills.
  • This can be a problem if you have the Gen Xer as the Boomer’s boss – the Boomer will be resentful of the detailed instructions the Gen Xer is constantly giving.
  • “ Sink or swim” doesn’t work with this generation – coaching, guidance and increased opportunities and responsibility are what most Gen Xers will respond to. This is what will be necessary to develop this generation as the leaders they will need to be.
  • Place is also an issue. Boomers may be very comfortable spending a day or two in a classroom setting while a Gen Y would be more comfortable learning the same information from home on a computer.
  • The Multi Generational Workforce

    1. 1. The Multi-Generational Workforce: Managing, Motivating, and Leading Lawrence S. Silver, D.B.A. Associate Professor John Massey School of Business Southeastern Oklahoma State University
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Who are the players? </li></ul><ul><li>What are some of the potential conflicts? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we motivate each group? </li></ul><ul><li>What are some keys to success? </li></ul>
    3. 3. Who are the players? Generation/Work Group Birth Period Age Range Size Veteran/Traditionalist 1929-45 63 - 79 63 million Baby Boomer 1946-64 44 - 62 78 million Generation X 1965-79 28 – 43 48 million Generation Y 1980-99 27 and under 80 million expected)
    4. 4. Veteran/Traditionalist <ul><li>Came of age after WWI and WWII and during the Great Depression </li></ul><ul><li>Respect authority </li></ul><ul><li>Loyal </li></ul><ul><li>Sacrifice defines this generation </li></ul><ul><li>Value teamwork </li></ul><ul><li>Work hard and may regret time not spent with family </li></ul><ul><li>Pride in a job well done </li></ul>
    5. 5. Baby Boomers <ul><li>Desire relationships rather than strict authoritarian structures </li></ul><ul><li>Loyal until a better offer comes along </li></ul><ul><li>Workaholics who believe in paying dues </li></ul><ul><li>Value teamwork, team meetings, and talking together </li></ul><ul><li>Tries to keep up with technology so that some Gen Xer doesn’t take his or her job. </li></ul>
    6. 6. Generation X <ul><li>Distrustful of authority (but respects mentors) </li></ul><ul><li>Loyal to individuals – not companies </li></ul><ul><li>Sacrifice is not in their vocabulary </li></ul><ul><li>Teamwork is better when it’s virtual </li></ul><ul><li>Balance work and play </li></ul><ul><li>Need a great deal of variety at work </li></ul><ul><li>See skill building as the key to success </li></ul><ul><li>Technology – reared on the computer . </li></ul>
    7. 7. Generation Y <ul><li>More mindful of authority than Gen X </li></ul><ul><li>Too early to tell how loyal they are or if they are willing to sacrifice </li></ul><ul><li>Work until you get enough money to play </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t punch clocks – once the job is completed, they’re gone </li></ul><ul><li>Become bored very easily </li></ul><ul><li>Comfortable with technology -- text messaging, Facebook, MP3 </li></ul>
    8. 8. Conflict – The Generation Gap <ul><li>Boomers </li></ul><ul><li>Remembers black and white TV and no cable </li></ul><ul><li>Watched Honeymooners and the Twilight Zone </li></ul><ul><li>First president remembered: Eisenhower </li></ul><ul><li>Elvis, Motown, Beatles </li></ul><ul><li>Howdy Doody doll, Davy Crockett coon-skin hat, hula hoops </li></ul><ul><li>Generation X </li></ul><ul><li>Grew up with cable and color </li></ul><ul><li>Watched Knight Rider, Scooby Doo and MTV </li></ul><ul><li>First president remembered: Reagan </li></ul><ul><li>Thompson Twins; Prince, Madonna </li></ul><ul><li>Pac Man, Rubik’s Cube, Garbage Pail Kids </li></ul>
    9. 9. Conflict – Work Ethic <ul><li>Boomers </li></ul><ul><li>Believe Gen Xers don’t work as hard as Boomers do because they “punch the clock.” </li></ul><ul><li>Favor technology if they see value in it. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not need much direction at work – can be relied on to get the job done </li></ul><ul><li>Generation X </li></ul><ul><li>Results oriented – once the job is done, they’re off </li></ul><ul><li>They don’t care where they get it done – telecommuting, flex schedules… </li></ul><ul><li>Like and need constant feedback – they want very detailed instructions </li></ul>
    10. 10. Conflict -- Communication <ul><li>Boomers </li></ul><ul><li>Value face-to-face communication </li></ul><ul><li>Believe e-mail is overused </li></ul><ul><li>May not even know how to send text messages </li></ul><ul><li>Has no appreciation for text message shorthand (c u b4 class  ). </li></ul><ul><li>Generation X </li></ul><ul><li>Too comfortable with e-mail </li></ul><ul><li>Favor e-mail and text messaging over face-to-face </li></ul><ul><li>Will use the communication form most convenient </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid giving bad news. </li></ul>
    11. 11. Motivation Across the Generations – Veterans/Traditionalists <ul><li>Reward loyalty </li></ul><ul><li>Introduce to change slowly </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize for a job well-done </li></ul><ul><li>Detailed feedback is not valued (No news is good news) </li></ul><ul><li>Give them opportunities to mentor </li></ul>
    12. 12. Motivation Across the Generations – Boomers <ul><li>Remember, these are workaholics, but… </li></ul><ul><li>Money is a reward </li></ul><ul><li>So are titles/position </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize achievement </li></ul><ul><li>Give them an opportunity to build consensus </li></ul><ul><li>Give them chances to mentor, teach, or participate in charitable functions </li></ul>
    13. 13. Motivation Across the Generations – Generation X <ul><li>Frequent communication </li></ul><ul><li>Tell them the “why” not just the “what” of projects and priorities </li></ul><ul><li>Make work fun </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility to manage other priorities (family) </li></ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities for collaboration and teamwork </li></ul><ul><li>Need individualized recognition – some will want a tangible reward while others will want a “thank you” for a job well done. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Motivation Across the Generations – Generation Y <ul><li>Flexibility in when and where work is done (they don’t like rigid start/stop times) </li></ul><ul><li>Change and challenge (easily bored) </li></ul><ul><li>Understand this generation will have at least five different careers in their lifetimes – an average job tenure will be 2-3 years </li></ul><ul><li>Understand they will challenge authority, but this does not mean they are disrespectful. </li></ul><ul><li>Give them the opportunity to participate in social awareness projects </li></ul>
    15. 15. Training & Development <ul><li>Different learning styles and comfort with technology </li></ul><ul><li>Traditionalist and Boomers want to “protect” knowledge and skills </li></ul><ul><li>Gen X wants continuous and accessible training and information </li></ul><ul><li>Gen Y wants student-centered, technologically-based learning. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Training & Development <ul><li>One size does not fit all </li></ul><ul><li>Use a blended approach </li></ul><ul><li>Support traditional face-to-face instruction with support from other media. </li></ul><ul><li>Use experiential learning to help generations know and understand one another </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct training in shorter segments </li></ul>
    17. 17. Keys to Success <ul><li>One Size Does Not Fit All HR policies </li></ul><ul><li>Communication and Active Listening </li></ul><ul><li>Understand that change that accommodates Gen X and Gen Y may not be easy for Veterans and Boomers. </li></ul><ul><li>Watch your mouth </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledge each generation’s strength </li></ul>
    18. 18. Keys to Success (continued) <ul><li>Look beyond appearances </li></ul><ul><li>Create both function- and project-oriented assignments </li></ul><ul><li>Keep an open mind </li></ul>