I Work with Mom and my Oldest Sister

Blog located in Coaching & Mentoring, Culture, Leadership posted on December 18, 2014

It’s the first time in Canadian history that four generations are sharing the workplace, from Traditionalists and Baby Boomers to Generation X and the Millennials. With four generations come four sets of ideas, behaviors, attitudes, expectations and motivators.

One way to overcome the challenges of having four generations working alongside each other is to know what the differences are and how to address each generation based on what makes them tick.

In this, the first of a two-part series, we will define the generations. The second part will provide tips on managing employees of different generations.

Traditionalists

Born before 1945, they account for 5% of the workforce. They value hard work and measure it based on the number of hours spent in the office. This generation is heavily influenced by the military. They carry a wealth of knowledge and experience and they are generally fatalistic, inflexible and looking for recognition.

Baby Boomers

Born in the mid-sixties, they account for 37% of the workforce. This generation is generally optimistic, loyal (as long as they feel involved), looking for respect. They are generally competitive and want to be needed by the employer.

Baby boomers think they deserve good fortune.

Gen Xers

Born in the mid-seventies, they account for 32% of the workforce. Raised by baby boomers that worked hard and were loyal to their employers, only to be terminated after more than 20 years of service for the same employers, Gen Xers are skeptical of leadership, and are generally disengaged.  They demand proof to believe, value training and mentoring, they tend to reject rules and demand work-life balance.

Millennials

Born in the nineties, they account for 25% of the workforce. They were told “good job’ and ‘you’re so smart’ by their parents. They are known to work, date and socialize differently. This generation tends to question everything, expect to be consulted on matters (big or small), value innovation and chafe at having to work with people who are not as smart as they are.

Now What?

The four generations are different. This is a fact. The differences are politically, socially and environmentally driven. So how do you alleviate negative stereotypes? How do you manage a multigenerational workforce effectively?

Stay tuned for part II.