Organizations and employers need to put the right employees to meet the objectives of the company. Employers may prefer to do the recruiting and hiring independently or partner with professional staffing agencies to acquire the right people. However, the workforce is ever changing. With generational differences in the labor market, managers have been left grappling. Problems arise from differing communication styles and mindset among workers born in different eras. Technologies and age diversities have led to ever changing teams. The way work was managed in the 20th century does not apply to the 21st century (Gravesande, n.d.).
This paper looks at workforce generations and focuses on baby boomers and millennial generations. It looks at the similarities and differences between these generations. It also discusses factors to be considered when deciding multi-generational workforce to adapt and strategies for managing these cross-generations. The paper ends by summarizing key points from the paper in the conclusion section.
Brief Introduction on Workforce Generations
Gone are the days when employers ruled the market. The modern job market is a candidate's (employees) market with more jobs to be filled with inadequate talents (McAfee, 2019). Employers are forced to use flashy job titles, and hefty compensation packages attract employees. Managers are tasked with balancing the goals of the business with human resource management (the ability to shift their approach towards hiring and retaining these talents). The key to managing these changes is to effectively address these differences and taking advantages of the differences in expectations and values of each generation. Workforce age diversity is critical in business management as the older generations refuse to retire while millennials continue to increase in the workforce. Managers are tasked with taking care of both younger and older workforces in the market to make sure none is disadvantaged or risk social, economic and political implications.
Workforce generations include Traditionalist, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials or Generation Y and Generation Z. Many trends in the workforce have created these Generations. Some of them include technological advances allowing for a wide range of generations to remain in the labor market. Also, Traditionalists and Baby Boomers for myriad reasons are not retiring the way previous generations did (Gravesande, n.d.).
The traditionalist generation also referred to as silent generation was born before 1945. Workplace characteristics of traditionalist include strict directives and adherence to rules aiming at attaining strong respect for those in authority. These employees are loyal to the organization and hardworking. They believe that task responsibilities always precede pursuits for personal interests and leisure. In this workforce, promotions are usually based on seniority and time of service.
Baby boomers were born between 1946 to 1964. It is the largest generational group owing to their sheer numbers and representations (Benjamin, n.d.). Usually, baby boomers occupy top management and executive levels in organizations. Therefore, they dictate the overall cultural characteristics of the work environment. Workplace characteristics include hardworking, regular face-to-face meetings and fixed working hours. In this generation, success is determined by long working hours on the job. It is also called the workaholic generation by younger generations due to the long working hours (Benjamin, n.d.). Boomers also value education and high-quality production despite their limitations of inadequate technological skills.
Generation X was born between 1965 and 1980. Generation Xers have reservations of authority and thus tend to ignore title, hierarchy, and status. Unlike boomers and traditionalists, they seek a balance between work and personal life and prefer fun and informal workplace (Benjamin, n.d.). Besides, this group is characterized by minimal supervision, self-reliance, and individual projects. Since Xers like having personal time, they dislike regular meetings opting to spend this time for high productivity and complete the tasks at hand as fast as possible to free up more personal time.
Also known as millennials, this generation was born from 1981 to 1995. The name is based on its predecessor generation X. This generation is also known as echo boomers since they are children of baby boomers. It is also called the internet generation (iGen) or the Net generation. This generation is characterized by modern communication styles such as emails, chatting, and texting rather than face-face-communications. Baby boomers describe this group as lazy. Much like Generation X, they seek a balance between work and life, with flexible work schedules. The generation is confident, ambitious and committed to moral and ethical principles. These employees crave for attention, feedback, and guidance. Therefore, they are not afraid to question authority and constantly seeking new challenges at work.
Generation Z was born from 1996 and after. This generation is the most connected, educated and sophisticated (Robertson, 2018). It has experienced global, social, visual and technological advance changes. It comprises social media divers, brand influencers and pop-culture leaders. This group is living in an era of changing family patterns, economic and social renewal. Gen Zers is characterized by high affinity for online platforms, perceive information visually, struggle for autonomy, multitasking and are environmentally aware (Robertson, 2018).
Each of these generations has attained maturity at a specific period in history owing to various social, economic and political factors. During the 20th century, there were three generations which worked together despite their different outlooks. Despite such differences, the nature in which businesses were managed and work accomplished was similar. Technological changes were exponential in the late 20th century. Therefore, the 21st century witnessed new technologies development and integrated into the workplace. These technologies have changed the way businesses are managed and work accomplished leading to a massive revolution in the workforce (Gravesande, n.d.). Usually, when a new technology emerges, changes are implemented at a private level before it has a knock-on effect on businesses as managers begin to adopt it in their places of work.
Generation Y (Millennials) and Generation Z witness these technologies at work more than generation X and its predecessors. They are entering the workplace using technology often far ahead of those adopted by their employers. It is the way these technologies are meeting the needs of their employers that have proved to one of the main reasons for the shift in workplace dynamics today. Other factors include work style, communication, leadership styles, development, work-life balance and other expectations (Gravesande, n.d.). Studies show that the generational balance is shifting projecting 50% Millennials in the workforce by 2020 (Gravesande, n.d.). These studies point at the challenges of having the best talents, retaining them, and building an organizational culture to ensure strong collective capability within the business (Gravesande, n.d.). These factors arise as younger generations are not opposed to changing employers the ways the older generations were. Therefore, the outlook of business today is likely to change in 2020.
Changes in the technologies and business environment call for integrating these generations to work, learn and communicate easily and effectively together. This strategy needs to engage and motivate, attract and retain talent, and ease communication between generations to meet their personal and organizational expectations, desires and needs (Gravesande, n.d.).
Comparison between Baby Boomers and Millennials
Whether baby boomers and millennials are working in traditional workplaces or they are self-employed, they possess some similarities and differences. Some of these similarities and differences are discussed in the following paragraphs.
They both want to be heard and respected. Millennials were born in times when there was more inclusion as everyone could make in the team while boomers had to work alone if they could not make a team. However, despite this difference, they both want recognition for their work (Tuggle, 2015). Boomers have made significant contributions in the industries, and they don't wish to be forgotten. There might be a difference in communication styles, but they both want to be respected and feel valued. A Boomer might feel recognized in a company memo or applause during a meeting, while a millennial might prefer recognition on a social platform; either way, recognition is the same. According to Todd Berger, president, and chief executive of Redwood Logistics, all employees regardless of generations crave for feedback the only difference being the frequency (Tuggle, 2015).
They both want to make a difference but only approach it differently. According to Greg Zoch, partner and managing director at executive search firm Kaye/Bassman International, both baby boomers and millennials are sensitive to social injustice, but technology is the cause for much differences of their expressions. The intent is the same (Tuggle, 2015). While millennials can reach out and mobilize more people through social media, boomers may choose to march to express their frustrations. For instance, boomer marched in Mississippi to fight for Civil Rights while the millennials rallied for the Occupy Wall Street movement. Also, after coming out of World War II, the Boomers desire to make the world a better place. On the other hand, after witnessing their parent suffer due to the recession, millennials are motivated to prevent similar occurrence (Tuggle, 2015). Therefore, in the workplace, both generations want to do projects that can make a difference.
Both the two generations are committed to working hard when they are both targeting for self-employment. For millennials, working hard enables them to create time for their interests while for boomers it allows them to achieve their targets. Boomers use the hard work to start new businesses by tapping into existing interests while for millennials it offers them an opportunity to grow their brand and experience. These kinds of career satisfaction are transferred to other aspects of life such as lifestyle, health, and relationships (Sweeney, 2018).
They share the willingness to give and take as a team. Both generations show a desire to pass their skills and expertise to the next newbie employees. For millennials, they use their potential and knowledge of the fresh working world to make a difference in the industry. For the boomers, they use their experience and technical know-how from their respective sectors (Sweeney, 2018). Their values are closely aligned when they are venturing in self-employment. They are usually passionate about their line of work and want to be successful. They might use a different approach, but the objective is the same.
According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), different generations are motivated by different effects at the workplace (McAfee, 2019). Therefore, the approach used to manage baby boomers is undoubtedly different from the one of managing Generation Y counterparts. Baby boomers are highly motivated by monetary rewards even though flexible retirement plans and peer recognition bother them too. Their ambitions are driven by the ability of organizations to create opportunities for promotion and professional development to place them in authority. Any new...
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