Generations in the workplace


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  • With four generations represented in today’s workforce, companies need to understand generational influences and preferences. The differences in education, motivation, and job commitment are more pronounced than ever. The differences can cause workplace misunderstanding, conflict and turnover as well as age discrimination lawsuits.
  • I will spend more time later in the presentation talking about managing each of these specific generations.
  • The fact that people are living and working longer puts us in a unique situation in our workforce. Never before have we had such a range of ages so broadly represented. 5% of the U.S. working population is made up of the Traditionalist Generation, which consists of people born between 1933 and 1945. 45% is the Baby Boomer Generation, dating from 1946 to 1964. Generation X makes up 40%, with its members born between 1965 and 1978. And the Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation is at 10% and growing, dating from 1979 to 1989. In today’s multi-generational workplace, the differences in education, motivation, and job commitment are more pronounced than ever. These differences can sometimes lead to conflict and misunderstandings, affecting retention and engagement. As a result it is critical that we have an open dialogue and understanding about generational needs.
  • Consider the implications of the following trends on your own management practices. The workforce overall is getting older. People who are of traditional retirement age are choosing to continue to work. The loss of these older team members means a loss of an enormous amount of business experience and expertise. Over the next 20 years, the U.S. is predicted to face a workforce shortage of between 15 and 25 million workers. This statistic underlies the importance of engaging and retaining the team members we have since it will not be easy to find equally qualified people to take the place of those who will leave. The Baby Boomer Generation consists of almost twice as many people as Generation X. As Boomers leave their management positions to retire or pursue other interests, Generation X needs to be prepared to step in. Pair that with the fact that team members in their mid 30s, the Gen Xers, are the most mobile group of workers in corporate U.S. history. That is, they are most likely to change jobs the most frequently. The bottom line is that we need to attract younger workers while still retaining the older, experienced people we currently have.
  • While different generations’ preferences vary from person to person, similar life experiences and events impact these aspects of work, and could potentially cause conflict.
  • While different generations’ preferences vary from person to person, similar life experiences and events impact these aspects of work, and could potentially cause conflict. Although differences among generations abound, studies suggest that all US workers, regardless of age, maintain over-riding values related to work environments: Feedback Freedom Opportunity
  • They came of age before, during and right after WWII. They are characterized by all-American values, civic pride, loyalty, respect for authority and a pain at times to the action-oriented Boomers and the technology crazy Xers.
  • Many companies are sitting back and watching people leave or retire, then are trying to find highly skilled, quality folks in today’s tighter workforce! This generation has a lot to offer in terms of skills, experience, and maturity. But we must know what is important to this generation: They value a responsible, honorable organization whose top management has integrity. They are highly dedicated to the customers and want to see everyone in the organization building strong customer relationships and providing high levels of service. They also want assurance that they’re going to have opportunities to try new things, to build on experience and abilities in new ways. Discussing career planning or learning paths would help them know that you’re not expecting them to just sit back and take it easy. They are much more likely to work for an organization that’s thought through people’s changing needs in terms of how much time they’re spending in the workplace. They want to hear about what the options are around working part-time, job sharing, flexible scheduling, and phased retirement.
  • There are some specific things managers can do to leverage the talent and skills of the Post WWII generation: They are a lot of experience, and they appreciate having that recognized now and then. Respect their background and turn to them for advice on areas of expertise. Along those same lines, they are a superb mentor for the Generation Y’s who are new to the business world. Most have a great deal of patience and desire to contribute to the development of other team members. Their interest in mentoring probably has to do in part with them wanting to leave a legacy where they work. They are interested in hearing about how their contributions affect profitability or strategic initiatives. They like to know what to expect and avoid excess change and ambiguity when possible. They do well with long-term goals that can be broken up into shorter term targets. Finally, you have to remember that they didn’t grow up in the age of technology…it was high touch not high tech for this generation. That’s not to say they can’t run a PC, but they still value easy access to technical support services for the times when they need it. They like a lot of personal interaction with their manager and face-to-face feedback.
  • The came of age in the 1950s and 1960s with many options and choices. They are characterized by a passion for participation and spirit in the workplace, creating a fair and level playing field for all. They are the civil rights, empowerment and diversity generation.
  • Let’s talk about the Baby Boomer generation in the work force. When they are evaluating an organization to decide whether it’s somewhere they would like to work, they want to know what its basic values are. Does it care about the people who work there? Can they trust the company’s management to make ethical decisions, to do the right thing even when it’s not as lucrative? They want to be assured that they’ll have the ability to excel and use talents to perform meaningful work. And they like to know that their efforts will eventually pay off and they’ll have opportunities for promotion. They are interested in hearing about what kind of status symbols or perks come with the job—is there a nice office or a company car or an impressive job title? And, although Baby Boomers have somewhat of a reputation for being workaholics, they have been re-evaluating priorities over the past several years and are looking for more balance in life. They are facing a challenging situation right now in that their parents are aging and are beginning to need a lot of attention and their kids are still at home.
  • The number one thing that will engage them on the job is the ability to make a significant contribution to customers and the organization. They want to find personal fulfillment at work and feel like their serving a greater purpose. They love projects that allow them to make things better, more efficient, more productive. The challenge of turning around something that isn’t working well is really exciting. When they are successful, they do like to be recognized by the manager – and during a team meeting. This gives them a lot of personal satisfaction as well as hopefully provides inspiration to other team members. And although they appreciate the value of technology, direct communication is important. They do want some flexibility in work schedules.
  • Baby Boomers are generally very driven and devoted to work. They have a strong service orientation and take great pride in their accomplishments. They are able to assess processes and can handle large-scale change initiatives. And their competitive nature makes them willing to take calculated risks. Baby Boomers tend to pay attention to interpersonal relationships and are strong team players. They are always on a quest for further self-exploration and self-discovery; they are very interested in continuously bettering ourselves.
  • They came of age in the 1970s and 1980s when the economy was going through difficult changes with the move to a global economy and the technological revolution. They are characterized by being the new change masters, masters of technology and wanting balance in their lives.
  • When interviewing for a job, be prepared for Generation X to ask a lot of questions. They want to make sure the company is a good fit for them as well as them being a good fit for the company. They are not into a lot of rules, hierarchies, positional authority, or the usual red tape that’s wound tight around most big companies. Their ideal workplace is informal and creative, with casual dress being the norm and success being based on what you can do , not on how long you’ve been sitting at your desk. They are looking for an organization that will give them an opportunity to try lots of new things and develop a wide range of diverse skills. They like to move around in the organization, like through job rotations, and get exposure to different departments. Tell them about your technology. Telecommuting and virtual teams were invented with Xers in mind. The whole concept of work/life balance is critical. They work to live, not live to work.
  • They do not like or feel they need to be micromanaged. Give them a goal and candid, timely feedback, then pretty much just stay out of the way. They like managers who encourage informal, open communication. If they want to run something by you, they don’t necessarily want to wait for their next scheduled one-on-one. They want to be able to drop you an e-mail and get your response. Using technology to communicate is fine with Gen Xers. In fact, they prefer it. It saves time. They are okay with the whole team thing. However, they generally do better with individual challenges, though, where they don’t always have to be dependent on others. As managers, Generation X has to adjust their style to work with a team that needed a lot of direction and help. Since Gen Xers are moving into more management jobs as Baby Boomers leave the workplace, they need training and experience in that area. They appreciation learning and development opportunities.
  • So what does the Generation X generation bring to the workplace? An entrepreneurial mindset, for one thing. They are self-managing, self-reliant, and have no problem taking initiative, working independently, and multi-tasking. As a group they’re pragmatic and very focused on outcomes and results. They have great creativity and problem-solving skills, and are technologically savvy. Gen Xers are extremely adaptable and comfortable with change. They value diversity and have a knack for thinking globally. Their general strategy is to learn and get as much experience and skills as they can to build careers and make things happen. They are generally more focused on outcomes than relationships. So sometimes they can come across as insensitive or impatient to get things done. They are not intimidated to speak out or give feedback to others and they expect to be asked for their opinions. Their natural skepticism allows them to think critically.
  • They came of age in the 1990s with the technology revolution was expanding. They are characterized by support and protection from parents; optimistic; civic minded; willing to work and learn.
  • Companies are looking for Gen Y’s early on, before they’re out of school. They are a generation of academics and value learning. They want to hear all about the on-the-job training programs, long-term career paths, and want to have a mentor. They are typically looking to stay put at a company for a long time, so they want to know that the company is going to be around and that they are not entering a department that has a lot of turnover or layoffs. They too are interested in new technology and what kinds of employee perks or discounts the organization has …focus on things that they could use now , not retirement plans or disability benefits.
  • Once Generation Y is at your organization, work environment is what keeps them engaged. A good manager is probably one of the most important things. Most of them were used to pretty good supervision and structure at home, so they appreciate authority figures. For most, this will be their first job so they need really clear objectives and expectations communicated. They freak out if they are left alone in a cubicle somewhere for days at a time. They really like a lot of interpersonal interaction and have a strong group orientation. Working in teams is a definite expectation.
  • To retain younger employees, all you need to do is give them more money; older employees are easy to retain because they have everything they want. Both fact and fiction. Younger people do want higher compensation, but not as much as they want improvements in their career, especially learning and advancement. Older people also want improvements to their job, especially recognition and challenge. Older people want training in broader issues such as strategy and leadership; while younger people want training in specific areas such as business skills. Both fact and fiction. Though there are a few differences, but there are striking similarities among generations for a desire to learn on the job. Older and younger people are different in how they want to learn; younger people want everything through the computer. Fiction – Don’t assume that younger employees want to learn everything through the computer. That assumption is just as false as the assumption that older people don’t want to learn anything through the computer. There is so much conflict between older and younger people that they find it difficult to work together. Fiction. The best and the brightest in any workplace are bound to share certain traits, such as a sense of responsibility and a positive attitude. But one thing they won’t have in common is their age. That’s because highly dedicated employees are found across the age spectrum and to make it all work it is up to the managers to understand and recognize all employee appropriately. Thank you!
  • Generations in the workplace

    1. 1. Generations in the Workplace
    2. 2. <ul><li>Segmenting the Generational Workforce </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding Generational Preferences </li></ul><ul><li>Managing Different Generations </li></ul>
    3. 3. Defining Generations 10% of today’s workforce, eager to work and learn, educated and diverse Born between 1980 and 2000 Generation Y 40% of today’s workforce, seeking a work/life balance Born between 1964 and 1980 Generation X 45% of today’s workforce, known to have invented the 60 hour work week Born between 1945 and 1964 Baby-Boomers 5% of today’s workforce, but common through the CEO ranks Born before 1945 Post WWII % of Workforce Birth Year
    4. 4. U.S. Workforce Demographics
    5. 5. <ul><li>Workforce overall is getting older. </li></ul><ul><li>Significant workforce shortage is predicted. </li></ul><ul><li>Nearly half as many Xers as Boomers. </li></ul><ul><li>Team members in their 30s are the most mobile in history. </li></ul>Trends
    6. 6. Contrasts Across Generations <ul><li>Attitudes </li></ul><ul><li>Comfort with Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Communication Styles </li></ul><ul><li>Expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Work/Life Preferences </li></ul><ul><li>Work Styles </li></ul>
    7. 7. Contrasts Across Generations Prefer quality of life over compensation Do not trade off high compensation for increased quality of life Value simplicity more than other employees and place lower importance on the value of life’s work Place a great importance on life’s work Remain with the company as long as it meets their needs Seek commitment and loyalty Seek tangible rewards Derive satisfaction from getting a job finished Younger Workers Mature Workers
    8. 8. The Post WWII Generation 1933-1945 Loyalty Pride in country Respect for authority Dedication Financially conservative Duty before pleasure Learn from the past Tradition
    9. 9. Recruiting, Retaining, and “Re-careering” Post WWII <ul><li>Emphasize the integrity and values of the organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate strong customer orientation. </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss future opportunities. </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss career planning. </li></ul><ul><li>Offer options for flexible scheduling. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Leveraging the Post WWII <ul><li>Acknowledge experience and expertise. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask them to mentor. </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss how their contributions affect the organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop long-term goals and relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on the personal touch. </li></ul>
    11. 11. The Baby Boomer Generation 1946-1964 Idealism Change- focused Cause- driven Equality Involvement Participation Spirit Competition
    12. 12. Recruiting the Baby Boomers <ul><li>Emphasize organization’s values, people-focus, trustworthiness. </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate how they can excel and perform meaningful work. </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss promotion opportunities. </li></ul><ul><li>Talk about status associated with the job. </li></ul><ul><li>Be open to flexible scheduling. </li></ul>
    13. 13. Retaining the Baby Boomers <ul><li>Show how they’re making significant contributions. </li></ul><ul><li>Help them find fulfillment and purpose. </li></ul><ul><li>Assign challenging projects, particularly ones involving process improvements. </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize how they’re making a difference. </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate important issues in person. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide work options to support and accommodate multiple family demands. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Leveraging the Baby Boomers <ul><li>Common attributes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Driven, devoted to work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Service-oriented </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Process-oriented </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to handle large-scale change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Willingness to take risks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relationship-focused </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bring optimism, heart, and humanity to work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interest in self-improvement </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Generation X 1965-1978 Independent Skeptical Highly educated Low expectations Need for options Technically literate Straight- forward Competent
    16. 16. Recruiting Generation X <ul><li>If applicable, talk about how the workplace is an informal, creative environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities for diverse work experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasize technology. </li></ul><ul><li>Offer non-traditional scheduling options. </li></ul><ul><li>Assure them of the organization’s commitment to work/life balance. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Retaining Generation X <ul><li>Do not micromanage! </li></ul><ul><li>Give candid, timely feedback. </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage informal, open communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Use technology to communicate. </li></ul><ul><li>Recognize that they may prefer individual work to group work. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide learning opportunities, particularly leadership development. </li></ul>
    18. 18. Leveraging Generation X <ul><li>Common attributes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Entrepreneurial </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pragmatic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Results-oriented </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creative problem-solving </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technological savvy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adaptable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Global thinking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comfortable giving feedback </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Critical thinking </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Generation Y 1979-1989 “ Can do” attitude Global outlook Technologically sophisticated Optimistic Civic- minded Child-centric families Confident Cooperative
    20. 20. Recruiting Generation Y <ul><li>Make connections with them early on. </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss learning opportunities. </li></ul><ul><li>Overview long-term career paths. </li></ul><ul><li>Talk about the possibility of mentoring. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasize stability of organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Give technology highlights. </li></ul><ul><li>Detail the appealing perks or discounts. </li></ul><ul><li>Be friendly, welcoming, nurturing. </li></ul>
    21. 21. Retaining Generation Y <ul><li>Provide good supervision and structure. </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate clear objectives and expectations. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasize team work and goals over individual ones. </li></ul><ul><li>Use technology to deliver information. </li></ul><ul><li>Assign work that is interesting, meaningful, and important. </li></ul><ul><li>Assist them with planning a career path. </li></ul>
    22. 22. Managing the Clash… <ul><li>Accommodate employee differences </li></ul><ul><li>Create workplace choices </li></ul><ul><li>Operate from a sophisticated style. </li></ul><ul><li>Respect competence and initiative, and provide feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage retention through flexibility and training. </li></ul>
    23. 23. Key Management Tactics <ul><li>Post WWII Generation </li></ul><ul><li>Deliver long term goals </li></ul><ul><li>Share organization’s history and make feedback warm and personal </li></ul><ul><li>Use and capitalize on their work ethic </li></ul><ul><li>Baby Boomers </li></ul><ul><li>Deliver information in person or through teams </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on work content and their desire for participation in tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Provide personal rewards and public recognition </li></ul>
    24. 24. Key Management Tactics <ul><li>Generation X </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledge the desire for work-life balance. </li></ul><ul><li>Deliver information through technology and education </li></ul><ul><li>Provide merit-based rewards </li></ul><ul><li>Use Gen Xers entrepreneurial, problem solving abilities </li></ul><ul><li>Baby Boomers </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledge the importance of meritocracy </li></ul><ul><li>Deliver information through technology and education. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasize the assignment of a mentor </li></ul><ul><li>Interaction opportunities with upper level management </li></ul>
    25. 25. Fact or Fiction? <ul><li>To retain younger employees, all you need to do is give them more money; older employees are easy to retain because they have everything they want. </li></ul><ul><li>Older people want training in broader issues such as strategy and leadership; while younger people want training in specific areas such as business skills. </li></ul><ul><li>Older and younger people are different in how they want to learn; younger people want everything through the computer. </li></ul><ul><li>There is so much conflict between older and younger people that they find it difficult to work together. </li></ul>