FC: Generations | The Problems Associated With the New Generation Gap in the Workplace | By: Sam Eastman
1: In this modern age where people are living longer and being forced to work longer a new problem has risen. With older generations being either forced out of retirement or simply working longer, there are now four generations working in the same workplace. Each generation has different ways of viewing life, work, and fun which leads to damaging working place relations and variations on what the workplace should offer and expect. This generational gap creates interesting prospects of what to expect inside the workplaces that I am heading to after I graduate from college. Understanding the problems associated with working with multiple generations will be a key component in successfully navigating the career ladder and managing workplace relations. This compilation of my research over the topic of generational workplace interactions and problems is designed to help inform future employees about the new issues that they will have to deal with in order to become successful in the their future jobs. An area that is potentially interesting for workplace problems is technology. The older generations, especially the ones coming out of retirement, have a completely different levels of technology that they grew up with in comparison to the newer generations are almost incompatible with each other. The different levels technological comfort has led to differences in the ways that those generations obtain and utilize information. | Preface
2: Table of Contents | i. Preface ii. Table of contents 1-2. background Information 3-4. Important Events 5-6. Important People 7-9. Interview 10. Important Elements 11. Closing Statement
3: Gavatorta, Steve. "It's A Millennial Thing." T+D 66.3 (2012): 58-65. Business Source Premier. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.
4: Background Information | With the increase of the number of generations in the workplace, there is an increase in the challenges that face employers and managers who are trying to maintain good workplace relations. These issues arise out of the differences between the four different generations. The four generations are The Silent Generation, The Baby Boomer Generation, Generation X, and the Millennials. The Silent Generation consists of people born between 1925 and 1945. This generation is very familiar with hardships and living with what they have, due to the fact they experienced both World War II and The Great Depression. These hardships have produced a generation that is hard working, disciplined, conservative, and loyal. With such hardships The Silent Generation responds positively towards managers with stricter more straight forward methods. They are more experienced but are slightly overwhelmed by all the new technology. The Baby Boomer Generation was raised in a much different time then The Silent Generation. The Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, grew up during prosperous post-war times. This has produced a generation that is very willing to work hard and put in the extra effort to take up it up a notch. The Baby Boomers mindset is linked into team work. They are adapting to technologies better than The Silent Generation, but they still prefer face to face conversation. They are also the most powerful and numerous generations. Generation X is a younger, born between 1965 and 1980, more independent generation that is just now coming into leadership roles within companies. Generation X was driven to independence by in divorces. They are a very creative and flexible group, so if given the chance they are very
5: being one of the first generations to have their mothers working outside the home and by the increase of divorces. They are a very creative and flexible group, so if given the chance they are very capable of getting tasks completed by being let off the leash. Often distrustful of authority, Generation X thinks that they are the only ones to take care of their business. They prefer electronic media, being the first with personal computers at home, but are still comfortable with face to face interactions. The Millenials are the youngest of the generations born between 1980 and 2000.Being raised in a more open times they are very accepting towards diversity and on terms of working equally with women. They are the most technological savvy generation, but are also the most limited on their abilities to interact face to face. Their biggest limitation is their lack of experience. The different environments that each generation grew up in have changed how they view the workplace. Trying to respect but control all of these differences is the main challenge with employing four generations in the workplace, but it leads to better diversity and better results if handled correctly. | Kyles, Dana. "Managing Your Multigenerational Workforce." Strategic Finance 87.6 (2005): 52-55. Business Source Premier. Web. 24 Apr. 2012.
6: A major event that has had a strong influence on the fact that there are four generations in the workplace now is the recent economic recession. This recession forced many older people back into work due to their retirement funds running short. The recession has caused many problems for older generations, but they have also caused many new circumstances to surface with the | with the younger generations. A major difference between the older generations and the newer is the view of what work is. The older, The Silent Generation and late Boomers, view work as a way to meet the American Dream by working hard and making money. The older generations have a much stronger focus on external rewards being the main reason to work. In contrast, younger generations work, Xers and Millenials, tare looking for satisfaction and respect when they work. If they feel they are not being treated well or do not enjoy their work they will leave the job. These conflicting views often lead to disputes between the two age groups because of such contrasting views. Another problem with the multiple generations is being able to effectively communicate. One area of communication conflicts occurs when | Important Events | Zaporzan, Denise. "Four Generations, One Workplace: Watch Us Work." CMA Management 84.6 (2010): 12-13. Business Source Premier. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. .
7: converse about or through technology. The very different levels of understanding of technology the younger and older generations have can make conversations about technology more confusing. Even more difficult is the differences in how the generations like to talk. The Xers are still comfortable with face to face interaction, but there are many Millenials who are not comfortable at all with face to face interactions. This can make communications very hard for The Silent Generation and Millenials . Even with the Xers who prefer to communicate electronically. On top of that, there is also a very different level of slang and vernacular used by younger and older generations. Another area of confusion and potential conflict is appearances. The Silent Generation and the Boomers have a tendency to wear more conservative formal attire, while Xers | and Millenials tend to wear less formal more trendy apparel. This can cause problems if older generations start to think that the younger generations are not taking work seriously because of varied opinions about what business attire. While these differences can create difficulties in lack of respect and confusion between the generations, this new generational gap also creates a new opportunity as well. If a manager can find ways to hold all of the generations to the same standard, but vary the approach based of the different generation, it is possible to create a workplace that is more effective due to the generations. Such as by utilizing the younger generations knowledge of technology and the older generations experience to produce results with more strengths involved in them.
8: Jody Thompson and Carli Ressler | nderson, Travis. "The Anti-Control Freaks." Twin Cities Business. Twin Cities Business, Dec. 2009. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.
9: This new system was implemented by Best Buy as a trial system at first, but they quickly adapted their offices to it. This new system has cut down the amount of turnover of employees by almost forty five percent. All while also increasing productivity. The brilliance of this plan is the ability for all generations to adapt their work to their lives. So, if a member of the Silent Generation wants to work from nine to five to complete his need for work he can, but that doesn’t have to stop a Xer from coming in at ten and leaving at three due to excellent and speedy work. Allowing all the generations to create work schedules that do not lock them into a rigid structure fulfills the varying needs of the generations. This creates an environment that allows the younger generations to still socialize and capitalize on free time. This new system allows for a workplace where all generations have the ability to make work in their own image, which creates a more productive workforce. ROWE is a great example of how mangers and companies can adjust to the new generations and still make more money. Now Cali and Jody have left Best Buy and started a consulting company called Culture Rx.
10: 1. What are the generations that are now working together? There are the Traditionals, The Boomers, the Gen Xers, Gen Y, and the Millienals. Millienals being your generation. 2. I followed a four generation study, why do you include Generation Y? I think they are going to have very different experiences in their lives. Especially since this recession is occurring. 3.What kind of effect will the recession and their other experiences have on their work style? They are going to revert back towards Traditionals. They are experiencing similar problems so they'll move back towards Traditionals. | 4. Why are there these four, I guess five, generations now working ? Longevity. In the old days people died or retired at sixty. Better health and better lifestyles are leading to people living longer. The economy is another strong factor. 5.Which generations tend to have the most issues with each other? The Boomers and Gen Xers do. 6. Why do they tend to have so many issues? A big part of the problem is that Boomers are very political and hierarchal, Gen Xers aren’t. They don’t trust big things; they don’t join in on parties. They don’t play the game, Boomers created the game. 7. How can these two generations be brought closer together? Boomers have to remember that the bluntness of the Gen Xers isn’t a personal attack. Xers just tell it how it is. They’re much more self reliant, a nd sometimes that is taken as them being rude. They tend to confront their bosses more than | Interview with Dr. Kenneth Eastman
11: than other generations too. Gen Xers also have to learn to show a little tact and respect to Boomers. They need to realize their bluntness can be rude. 8.You said that Gen Xers tend to confront bosses more; does that lead to problems between authority and Gen Xers? It is true that they are viewed as disrespectful and disloyal. Younger generations quickly get viewed as negative influences on the workplace. Often this label is totally unfair because Gen Xers just simply don’t buy into the system of traditional work. | Do generations obtain and process information differently? That is a good question. They do not process differently really. There really isn’t a difference in how technology is used, but there are many differences in the methods of communications. Traditionals tend towards face to face while Gen Xers are into the more electronic methods. Would you say there is a technology gap between the generations then? Generally that is more of an opinion of younger generations. Most businessmen, even the old ones, are very tech savy, but they do not view it as important as the younger generations. Clearly the Millienals are more comfortable. What role then does technology play in the generational workplace relations? The main difference is that younger generations have lives that revolve around technology. They have gotten use to twitter,
12: Facebook, and texting and often want immediate answers. This leads to the bluntness because people don’t think everything through as much anymore. Moving back for minute if that is ok, why are Boomers more political? Well, the early part of the generation was up in arms more. They were the traditional hippies protesting and trying to fight the machine from the outside. After watching how that did not work them, the younger Boomers wanted to be different by working through the system to create changes. What are the benefits of the generations? Generations are just another form of diversity. Having different people with different values working together generally leads to more creative ideas. Do any generations work faster than others? Boomers tend to work steadily and diligently on a few tasks, while younger generations tend to try and multi task to be more productive. Which, studies have shown to be totally crap Are there disputes then over how work should be done? Yes. Boomers tend to get fed up with Gen Xers because they tend to say yes to everything and are trying to throw out tons of ideas. Often Gen Xers make lots of promises, but then are not able to follow up on the promises.
14: Closing Statement | I went into this presentation thinking that generations were going to be entirely different. I was quite happy to discover that, more important than the differences, there were endless possibilities if the generations are managed correctly. While there is tension between the working manner and opinion of work and respect between the older and newer generations, usually those conflicts are misunderstandings. Unfortunately, the problems created by generational differences can happen quite often and can be very disruptive to a work environment. I found this interesting because I never really thought about how much national and world events could mold a generation into a fairly predictable group. All the generations have a distinguishing feature often developed from a new form of parenting or of how past generations lived. The effect that the generations have on each other was quite interesting to me. Reading about the generations has also excited me. Reading about how, although often shaky, very generational diverse workplaces produce more creative idea, I get excited about getting to be the new guy who is a breath of fresh air on wherever I end up. I look forward to working with both my peers and more experienced generations who have much more knowledge on the subject, but maybe less youthful spunk. The thought of one day becoming a sort of guru in my field who young workers tend to look up to and follow after excites me as well. Hearing about innovation makes me want to get out there and try and make a difference myself!
15: Works Cited | Kyles, Dana. "Managing Your Multigenerational Workforce." Strategic Finance 87.6 (2005): 52- 55. Business Source Premier. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. Stych, Ed. "U of M Study Shows Best Buy Cuts Staff Turnover with Flex Schedule." - Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal. St. Paul Business Journal, Apr.-May 2011. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.