The Generational Challenge in the Workplace

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This article is all about the challenges of how to deal with the generational differences that currently exist within organizational ecosystems. We will analyze five generations that still influence the market, but we must first understand that there are major characteristics that define each generation. The clearest definition is the year ranges that each generation was born within, the influences that they have absorbed over the years and most importantly their influence on the next generations.

The generations as we analyzed them are as follows:

  • Traditionals generation were born between 1900-1945
  • Baby Boomers born between 1946-1964
  • Generation X born between 1965-1980
  • Millennials (Generation Y) born between 1981-2000
  • Post-Millennials (Generation Z) born between 1997-2010.

Influences

The traditionals influenced by World War II, the Korean War, and the Great Depression. They experienced hard times and focused on their stability for the future, as they were motivated by working hard and achieving a pension, which allowed them to retire and live comfortably.

The Baby Boomers, which followed the traditionals had a different approach to life, as they did look forward to retirement, but also wanted to take something with them. As they actually thought of great businesses and major achievements, their thought was more open, they weren’t as fixed in their predecessors, they were affected by change civil rights movement, the Vietnam war, the sexual revolution, the Cold War and space travel. The baby boomers introduced a higher divorce rate than their previous generation; they lived during the years that the American dream defined the way of life during their era.

Generation X, that had to make their own influence on their environment, as they weren’t as set in life as their predecessors. Generation X was influenced by the energy crisis, dual-income families, single parents, the Y2K, activism, the dot-com bubble, the end of the Cold War, and increasing divorce rates. Generation X are the professionals, self-made, hard-working, highly educated artists-engineers-builders; they are the ones that took less from the previous generations and made much more.

The Millennials (aka Generation Y) had very high standards to live up to. They were influenced by digital media, school shootings, terrorist attacks, AIDS, 9/11, higher divorce rates – in some cases 50%. Generation Y had to face less hardship than its predecessors, it is defined as a generation that requires more human interaction, and more feedback, teamwork, collaboration and they are of the generation that had introduced social networks which allowed the following generation, the Generation Z that has a more practical outlook on life.

Generation Z is the technologists, they live off high-speed data, social media that exists everywhere. They are the generation that had a smartphone handed to them at a very young age, as they are the generation that is the most focused when it comes to being task-oriented they rule! Human attention needs to be introduced to them in order to collaborate with others.

Generation X is very individualistic, they still value a work-life balance, they are a technology-driven, but are not defined by technology, they are artists, they know how to teach the world as a whole and not only looking through the same pigeon hole. They are educated professionals, pragmatic, structured, they need very little of this world in order to succeed, they are currently in control of world opinion. The Xs hold most of the high-powered jobs such as high government positions, leading the banking world and economy, they are the dominant force in the world. The millennials that came following the Xs are very weak followers but are very strong social animals. The generation Z that followed them are extremely strong, practical and functional task-oriented individuals.

In order to succeed with the Generation Y and Z you need to create a strong corporate culture for them to stay interested, you need to offer a work-life balance environment, you need to provide them with lots of leadership and guidance, you need to take advantage of their tech-savviness and their hunger for technology, you need to recognize the work they do more frequently and give them good feedback on their successes, and in return they will be loyal fans and give you back higher performance. If you craft a future for them, you will create an environment that they will see as their future workplace. You will need to promote collaboration and teamwork, as it will directly affect efficiency and they will feel like part of a team that will allow them to flourish in the workplace.
In the Gen Y case, you will need to embrace diversity and flexibility, allowing them to work in a flexible environment, allow them to telecommute and work remotely, but you must focus on results, if not they will just get lost.
The generation Zs are different, they are the post-millennials. You will need to give them their space, offer them feedback but don’t force it, eliminate distractions, as they are very easily distracted by devices, by technology, give them their freedom, give them their own voice, give them the stage to allow them to grow, create a community for them because they won’t create one themselves, they will naturally stick to their individualism, they will stick to their own first-person shooter their own persona that will hide them from the rest of the world.

The world we are building is a world with a good and strong community for both Xs and Ys together. In order to be successful in the workplace, you must initiate many face-to-face interactions this will bring them together and force them to start caring saying all that the more room to grow in return they will grow exponentially. The generation Xs that dominated the world will make room for the next alpha-generation to dominate – the generation Z’s because of their technology-driven, task-oriented, fast-paced and in some cases, ruthless resolve for success – they make the best candidates to reign the world influence. Understanding what they need, and give it to them in order for them to move forward!


You will find a very generation-mixed environment in most workplaces, therefore when defining a culture or a focused approach in the workplace you need to take into consideration that there is no one generation that you are going to indulge, you are going to allow every generation to have their own space and their own culture. The culture within a specific environment actually creating a culture of cultures but in order to succeed, you must understand every one of these subcultures and allows your workplace to become the multi-generational ecosystem.

 

In our next article, we will dive into the influence of each generation on the market from both a customer and provider perspective.

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