A Quick Look at the Current Generational Mix
Much has been said about the Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y, but what are the characteristics that set them apart? What do we need to understand about each generation, if we are to work side by side with them, or hire them?
If you are an employer it can be very useful to know what makes people tick; what motivates them, inspires them, and what they deem as important. Each generation requires unique handling in terms of management and leadership to ensure they are delivering at their best and overall morale remains high. If you treat all the generations the same you'll find yourself in deep water.
These employees are between 53 and 71 (2017) and they pride themselves on their work ethic and their values. Many are workaholics - they need to see things done well and on time. They look for personal fulfillment in their job - the 'experience' is very important to them, as it is in their personal life too. They won't stay around if they are not enjoying the work they do.
They tend to think they know best and will easily question authority. If they believe in something they will work tirelessly for it.
They like to work in teams and prefer consensus to other forms of decision-making. They are increasingly technologically aware but still prefer to talk to people in person, rather than by email or text.
Boomers want to be rewarded for their efforts - both in terms of recognition and money. Remember, they need to feel valued and they need to feel value in the work they do. Traditionally work has come first, but as they age they look for both work satisfaction and leisure time travel and adventure.
Gen X'ers are between 37 and 52 (2017). They thrive in work environments that have a solid structure and good direction. They don't thrive on change and can be very skeptical of outside influence - they trust themselves to be correct, not others.
They don't see themselves as part of the company in the same way Boomers do - they see a business relationship - a contract between themselves and the company. Money in return for specific services delivered within specific hours.
They expect the workplace to be fair and equal and woe betide you if you show favouritism or overlook them for a promotion, or salary increase they think should be theirs by right. They will challenge owners and bosses and use their intellect to demand valid answers.
On the positive side, they are entrepreneurial, creative and innovative in their approach to work challenges. When managing them you will need to communicate directly and in a timely fashion. Gen X'ers need constant feedback - if you are not providing it, they will be in your office asking for it.
Unlike past generations, Gen X'ers don't feel trapped by a job, they need to feel free, to do things their way and they often treat rules as loose guidelines.
Work-life balance is important to this generation and you need to be aware of the high importance they place on their family and their out of work life.
Now between 17 and 36 (2017) Gen Y see work as a means to an end and little else. Even those in vocational occupations such as doctors, are looking at the financial rewards and long-term financial security.
In the workplace, they work hard, are great multi-taskers, are entrepreneurial employees (so listen to them) and will stick to difficult tasks to prove they can do it.
They are open to opposing opinions and will take everyone's views into consideration. Like the Boomers, they want to enjoy their work and feel they are accomplishing something worthwhile. However, they see it as a means to an end - the pay cheque funds fun! Like Gen Y's they demand fairness and if they discover an employee who has been at the company for a shorter time than them, but doing the same job, is being paid more than them, they'll just walk. Getting another job is not hard for this generation.
To be expected, they are big communicators and rarely have a mobile device out of their hands. They are passionate texters and don't email as much as the other generations. They value teamwork to a point, but not if it interferes with the quality of what they are doing.
Because they have grown up in a fast-paced world, they want everything to happen at lightning pace. This means raises, promotions, changes in routines and types of work, feedback from managers. This is a generation that can get bored very quickly.
Lastly, they are great givers-back, especially of their time. They take pleasure in helping people.
Understanding these three generations and finding a way to manage and lead each of them will pay dividends. Once you get to know their hot-buttons you will find it easier to; motivate them, increase their productivity, and help them work as a team. Treat them all the same and you'll be in for a tough time.