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MultiGenerational Workplace


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In the contemporary U.S. workforce, four generations now often work side by side. They have had varied life experiences, are characterized by different levels of technological expertise and knowledge, and are often distinguished by racial, cultural, religious, and regional diversity. This webcast will address the implications of these differences for employers and managers. The primary focus is on the differences between generations and what they mean for managers who are trying to build teams and support the diverse needs of their employees. The webcast will also emphasize the technological divide that is at times a divisive element between generations in how they approach their work and personal lives. The effects of globalization and increasing diversity area also addressed.

By the end of this webcast participants will be able to:

• Identify the characteristics and work orientations of Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X’ers, and Millennials.

• Understand intergenerational dynamics and the technological and social media divide between generations

• Develop more cohesive, smooth functioning work teams

• Appreciate and capitalize on the value of multiple employee perspectives and capabilities

• Employ new strategies for overcoming differing generational perspectives at the workplace in order to increase productivity

Bahira Sherif Trask, PhD., is a Professor and Associate Chair of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Delaware and a Policy Scientist in the Center for Community Research and Service. She holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and an undergraduate degree in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations from Yale University.

Dr. Trask is a leading expert on globalization, work and families in Western and non-Western contexts. She has authored and edited a number of books in this area, including Globalization and Families: Accelerated Systemic Social Change (Springer, 2010). Her latest book (to be released fall 2013) is Women, Work and Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities (Routledge).

Dr. Trask speaks on her research on work, family, and workforce development for the 21st century in a variety of venues including at the United Nations, corporations such as Gore and Microsoft, and academic institutions, including most recently Yale University.

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Published in: Business, Career, Technology

MultiGenerational Workplace

  1. 1. Working Successfully in st Century: the 21 Integrating a Multigenerational Diverse Workforce and Understanding the Role of New Technologies Bahira Trask, Ph.D. Sponsored by
  2. 2. Outline Part 1: • Our Changing World: Work, Technology, Diversity & Globalization Part 2: • Identifying Age Cohorts & the Life Course • Comparing Work Style Differences Part 3: • Technology and its Role in the Workplace • Building and Managing Teams to work more effectively together
  3. 3. Which generation do you think you fall into?
  4. 4. By the End of this Webcast, Participants will be Able to: • Identify characteristics of different generations and why this may matter in the workplace • Understand the role of new demographic and technological changes in the work place • Incorporate those understandings into creating more cohesive, productive work teams
  5. 5. Our Changing World • Demographic changes • Technology • Generational changes
  6. 6. Role of Technology  100 million knowledge workers  Online resumes / job seekers  Less contact in initial part of job process  Usage of technology at work
  7. 7. Changes in the Workplace • In traditional workplace, generations were separated by hierarchy – status and rank • In today’s workplace, generations often work beside each other
  8. 8. Generations Working Side by Side • By 2014 nearly one-third of the workforce will be 50 or older • Median age of US worker is 40 – highest in US history • 8 out of 10 baby boomers expect to keep on working at least part time • Millennials are the fastest growing part of the society – 25% of workforce
  9. 9. Factors Affecting Changes in the Workplace o Labor shortages in certain industries o Rising age of retirement o Individuals changing careers / trajectories
  10. 10. Some Results of Change  In past, relatively stable organizational model for career advancement  Today, organizations come in many sizes, types, shapes  Career paths vary (average 25 year old is expected to experience anywhere from 3-5 careers in lifetime)  Work-life expectations have changed with the generations
  11. 11. Competition for Talented Employees is Increasing • Cost of replacing experienced workers can range from 50 – 150 percent of their annual salaries
  12. 12. Productivity is Related to Work Environments • Need engaged employees o Must be valued, respected, feel they can contribute • Generational differences can lead to: o Conflict o Frustration o Poor morale • 60% of employees feel there is intergenerational conflict at the workplace
  13. 13. Why Do these Differences Matter? • Varying perspectives on work-life balance • Often have generational issues at core even though identified as personal o “She has a poor work ethic” o “He is not committed to his job” • Life course concept
  14. 14. “””People resemble their times more than they resemble their parents.” —Arab proverb
  15. 15. Polling Question: Which event do you most identify with ?
  16. 16. Traditionalists “Looking back, I can recall that the grownups all seemed to have a sense of purpose that was evident even to someone as young as four, five, or six. Whatever else was happening in our family or neighborhood, there was something greater connecting all of us, in large ways and small.” —Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation, Random House, 1998.
  17. 17. Traditionalists • Born between 1900 and 1945 (approx. 75 million) • Loyal -- often found to have worked for only one employer • Many of the men have military background and are comfortable with a top-down management style • Strong work ethic
  18. 18. Compelling Messages From Their Formative Years • Make do or do without. • Stay in line. • Sacrifice. • Be heroic. • Consider the common good. • Radio was main technology
  19. 19. Baby-Boomers • Born between 1946 and 1964 (approx. 80 million) • Typically respond to symbols of recognition: enhanced titles, more money, special perks such as parking spaces, and other status symbols • Optimistic and idealistic. • As result of their large numbers, tend to be extremely competitive
  20. 20. Baby Boomer Defining Events: • • • • • • • • • • • 1954 First transistor radio 1960 Birth control pills introduced 1962 John Glenn circles the earth 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. leads march on Washington 1963 President Kennedy assassinated 1965 U.S. sends troops to Vietnam 1966 Cultural Revolution in China begins 1967 World’s first heart transplant 1969 U.S. moon landing 1969 Woodstock 1970 Women’s liberation demonstrations
  21. 21. Main Messages During Their Formative Years • • • • • Be anything you want to be Change the world Work well with others Live up to expectations Main technology: TV!
  22. 22. Generation X o Born between 1965 and 1980 (approx. 46 million) o Typically have little trust in “the system” o Want training that enhances their skills, and portability of benefits like 401Ks that can be taken elsewhere. o Characterized by skepticism, self focus, lack of loyalty to employer o Work is means to an end
  23. 23. Generation X Defining Events: • • • • • • • • • • • • 1973 Global energy crisis 1976 Tandy and Apple market PCs 1979 Three Mile Island accident 1979 Margaret Thatcher becomes first female British Prime Minister 1979 Massive corporate layoffs 1981 AIDS identified 1986 Chernobyl disaster 1986 Challenger disaster 1987 Stock market plummets 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill 1989 Berlin Wall falls 1989 Tiananmen Square uprisings
  24. 24. Main Messages During Their Formative Years • • • • • • Don’t count on it. Heroes don’t exist. Get real. Take care of yourself. Always ask “why?” Main technology: Personal computer
  25. 25. Generation Y/ Millennials • Born between 1981 and 2000 (approx. 75 million) o One in three is not Caucasian o Two in four come from a single parent home o Four in five have working mothers • Perceived as wanting to make a difference and knowing that their work has value • Characteristics include sociability, civic duty, and morality. • Grown up with group work, athletics and team sports, and personal recognition
  26. 26. Generation Y Defining Events: • • • • • • • • • • 1990 Nelson Mandela released 1993 Apartheid ends 1995 Bombing of Federal building in Oklahoma City 1997 Princess Diana dies 1999 Columbine High School shooting 2001 World Trade Center attacks 2002 Enron, WorldCom and corporate scandal 2003 War begins in Iraq 2004 Tsunami in the Asian Ocean 2005 Hurricane Katrina
  27. 27. Main Messages During Their Formative Years • • • • • • You are special. Leave no one behind. Connect 24/7 Achieve now! Serve your community Main technology: Social Media
  28. 28. Polling Question: I am most comfortable working with someone who
  29. 29. Polling Question: What are some of the challenges you have faced in working with others from different generations?
  30. 30. Differences between the Generations (*Eric Chester, Employing Generation Y) Topic Boomers Gen X Gen Y Work style Get it done – no matter what it takes Find fastest route to results; protocol secondary Work to deadlines not schedules Authority/ leadership Respect for power and accomplishments Rules are flexible; collaboration is important Value autonomy; less inclined to pursue formal leadership positions Communication Formal and through structured network Casual and direct; sometimes skeptical Casual and direct; eager to please
  31. 31. Motivating Different Generations • Baby Boomers: o Authority, prestige, status markers, professional networking o Work for work’s sake • Generations X and Y: o Work is means to an end o Needs to be fun, special, flexible o Teamwork and the “why” count
  32. 32. Points to Keep in Mind! Common experiences of each generation frequently define their assumptions and perspectives However Never generalize from a few to the whole - there are ALWAYS exceptions Stereotype: “Millennials have a sense of entitlement” Workforce survey showed that Millennials are entrepreneurial and self-reliant Stereotype: “Older employees are not as productive” Several studies have found no real relationship between productivity and age as measured by work output and supervisory ratings
  33. 33. Improving Work Climate • Analyze the generational composition of your workplace • Is there a concentration of people of a certain age in certain stages? • Is there a higher attrition rate amongst any one group? • Are people of different generations involved in hiring? / succession planning?
  34. 34. Building and Managing Teams • Identify your own generational assumptions: o What do I believe are the most important attributes of an employee? o How loyal do I believe an employee should be to an organization? o What balance do I maintain between my work and personal life? o Do I feel most comfortable with people of a certain age group at work?
  35. 35. Working More Effectively Together • Personalize your style – be creative; find out about other’s preferences • Build on strengths – recognize the unique talents that others bring to the table
  36. 36. Working More Effectively Together • Initiate conversations about generational differences o Key to get issues out in the open – become less personal • Ask about people’s needs and preferences instead of assuming • Offer options for getting tasks done
  37. 37. Working More Effectively Together • Respect the different values held by various generations • Encourage generational partnerships and collaborations • Maintain Communication • Remain flexible
  38. 38. Case Study: Scripps Health, San Diego, CA • Developed a life cycle employment and benefits program that included what employees needed at certain stages of life and work • Created work/life and wellness programs • Training and re-skill coaching • Mentoring program – senior employees with junior employees
  39. 39. Similarities Across Groups • Individuals of all ages view work as a path to personal fulfillment – but they also expect compensation that is equivalent to the marketplace • Workplace culture matters! • Employees value an environment where they are heard and valued • Flexibility helps people balance work-family obligations
  40. 40. Lessons To Keep In Mind • There is more diversity than just generational diversity and we are all more similar than different • We can learn from each other - everyone brings something to the table • Everyone wants to succeed • Motivation and investment matter
  41. 41. Managing the Generational Gaps • Ongoing training / education: now life long skills gathering • Mentoring teams composed of younger and older individuals especially around social media use • Managers need to learn positives of social media: information gathering;
  42. 42. Thank you!  Bahira Trask, Ph.D. Human Development & Family Studies University of Delaware