There has always been a mixture of generations who have worked amongst each other in the workforce. For years, the generations often blended together well; utilizing similar work ethics and upbringings to weave together a cohesive workforce. However, times have changed and so has the makeup and identities of those individuals who are now in management positions.
Between the rise of technological advancements, and the idea of what hard work is, this workforce is made up of a diverse generational pool of workers. The three main generations who make up the current tide of employees are Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials.
So how does one successfully navigate these unique tides of generational differences? First off, one has to understand the nuances of each one; what makes them tick, what do they like, and what will keep them at the job and loyal to your company? Here is a quick, but in-depth, look at the characteristics of each working generation, and what you can do to make them the most successful and efficient employees that you could hire.
Baby Boomers (circa 1946 – 1964)
These are some of the hardest workers in the workforce. Baby boomers were born to parents who also worked hard, and who didn’t have much growing up. Their parents made sacrifices and most baby boomers often came from a traditional home life: dad worked and mom stayed home.
A baby boomer’s time wasn’t measured from 9AM – 5PM, as they stayed until the job was done. Their professional and personal life was a lot like their parents, as it wasn’t as balanced, but more traditionally focused. Many people I know who are baby boomers, remember their dad working a lot, while their mom was usually at home and taking care of their everyday needs.
People who are from the baby boomer generation are also excellent team players and leaders who are driven by making money. Since they have worked their whole lives, making money has only grown on them as they have gotten older and more experienced in the job market.
When it comes to technology, it’s actually a 50/50 split on how baby boomers adapted to it. Half of them are quite good at using it, while the other half struggles in keeping up with the technological advancements of this world. You may know those individuals who look at you quizzically when you talk about an app on your phone, or what a selfie stick is.
Baby boomers also live to work, not work to live. Work is an enjoyment and a hobby, rather than just a job that one must go to. Many baby boomers started working at a young age, and it’s all they’ve known. Giving up a job is the equivalent of giving up part of their own identity. That is why you will find baby boomer at a company for 25+ years, quite possibly doing the same job for decades.
How to work with Baby boomers
Baby boomers enjoy a more personal touch, as opposed to talking over a text, phone calls or email. They like the idea of face-to-face conversations and having their ideas listened to in a work setting. A baby boomer’s end goal is for everyone to agree and be on the same page by the end of a conversation. Be sure to show them appreciation for their hard-earned efforts, and to not let their dedication go unnoticed. Remember, this is the generation who will work until the job is finished, not until the work day is considered over.
Generation X (circa early/mid-1960’s – late 1970’s/early 1980’s)
Up until the Millennials came into the workforce, Generation X was the most educated generation out there. They are still a big part of the working world, however, Generation X is also referred to as the ‘forgotten’ generation. Since baby boomers encompass so many people, and the Millennials are so different in their dreams and endeavors, Generation X is like the middle-child who gets looked over.
Generation X individuals grew up in a very controversial time. Between the Nixon scandal and the Vietnam war, their childhood was shadowed with doubt and not having belief in authority and government. Those events have made these individuals more cynical, skeptical, and likely to question “why” as opposed to simply being a ‘yes’ man or woman. This can be good for your company, especially if you like to bring in fresh ideas, or to have your own concepts challenged once and awhile.
Generation X individuals have confidence in their work and thrive in having multiple job duties. By giving them more responsibility, you are not only building their confidence, but also feeding their desire to wear various hats at your company.
How to work with Generation X
Unlike the baby boomers, Generation X yearn for a better work/home life balance and they work to live, not live to work. That is also reflected in their work ethic and in keeping them happy at your company. They want more flexibility and independence in their work schedules. In comparison to baby boomers, who like to be at their job for longer hours and periods of time.
Workers who fall amongst the Generation X timeframe, are also driven by impressive titles and in taking charge of many work-related tasks. To be successful in maintaining those Generation X individuals, remember their desire for a better balance of home and work life, as well as in their confidence at taking on more duties and responsibilities for your company.
Millennials (circa early/mid-1980’s – late 1990’s/early 2000’s)
This has become the most educated generation out in the workforce, as well as the one who is the most dominant in it right now. Most Millennials have attended college and received a higher education degree. Millennials have grown up with technology, so it has been a part of their life for a long time. They adapt quickly to its advancement, and usually know the latest app before many others do.
These individuals have grown up with the ‘trophy’ analogy. This is the idea that everyone was given a ‘trophy’, just for participating and not actually earning it. The slogan, “everyone’s a winner” can be applied to Millennials, and their childhood growing up. Due to this, Millennials tend to not stay at a company for long because of their unmet expectations.
However, Millennials have a lot of stellar characteristics that they can bring to a company as well. They are creative, they long to be a part of something meaningful, and Millennials strive for a strong relationship with their superior. They do not like to disappoint their team, and if they feel as if their role is instrumental to the company, their loyalty to their job and to the company they work for will only grow.
Due to the Millennials tech-savvy nature, they would rather text than take a phone call. Being a Millennial myself, I prefer emailing someone as opposed to giving someone a call on the phone. Millennials also catch on quick, and aren’t afraid of the different technological advancements that may take place in your company. Adaptability is a strong suit for a Millennial, and one that you will need to help in the running of your business.
How to work with Millennials
By keeping things interesting, and by making a Millennial feel like they are a part of something, is a huge deal in keeping them at your company. They may be quick to feel like the grass is greener somewhere else, however, if given a chance to make decisions and to feel included as part of your company’s team, Millennials may have a harder time leaving.
Following in the footsteps of the Generation X’ers, Millennials also enjoy a better balance between their work and home life. In the regard, that is why Millennials also long for more flexibility or having the capability to work from home. In summation, Millennials would rather be rewarded with more time than with more money. In granting them more freedom, and responsibility, you will be setting the stage in keeping your Millennial workforce intact and with greater longevity for you and your company.
Each generation has their own unique characteristics that truly make them a true testament of their time. As a business owner, you have to remember those factors when working with your coworkers and your employees. Utilizing these characteristics will not only help with your overall success, but also assist you in building a stronger company in this present day generational melting pot.