Age In The Workplace: How To Manage Generational Differences and Drive Your Business To Success

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Never in history that the workplace becomes more interesting and exciting than it is right now.

And why is that, you may ask.

Well, for the first time in history, five generations are working together, side by side. They are:

-The Silent Generation (born 1900-1945) currently makes up only about 2% of the global workforce

-Baby Boomers (1946-1964) 25% of the global workforce

-Generation X (1965-1980) in 33% of the global workforce

-Millennials aka Generation Y (1981-2000) are now the most prevalent generation in the workplace (35%), 

-“Nexters” or Generation Z (born after 2000) composed another 5% of the global workforce

A Brief History of Each Generation's Significant Events

The influence of prevalent parenting styles and trends of the time and the major cultural influences that generations experienced make them share similar characteristics and adopt the same general outlook in life. As each generation grows up, they are also influenced by the technology that existed and the economy and political wind.

The Silent Generation aka Traditionalists:

 Also called the Builders, this generation witnessed the emergence of technologies that future generations take for granted, like automobiles and aircraft, indoor plumbing, and electricity. 

Members of the Silent generation witnessed economic death, and they came of age in stark surroundings growing up during the Great Depression and World War II, struggling quietly through hardships. They chose conservatism, conformity, and traditional values as adults. 

The Baby Boomers: In the 1960s, this generation saw the rise of leaders from the previous generational group, the likes of JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr. Coming of age in the relative economic prosperity of the post-war era and moved by the tragedy of political events, they challenged and rejected the very institutions and values that provided them comfort and security while growing up.

Generation X: As the name suggests, it is believed that Generation X lacked a sense of connection with the world around them as they came of age. Although they are the first generation to become comfortable with computers, they were also the first to experience disruption and divorce. 

Growing up amid national emergencies and global transitions, they witnessed the Watergate scandal, Iranian hostages crisis, energy crisis, and the Fall of Berlin, as well as Operation Desert Storm. 

Generation X developed a strong skepticism for existing institutions and became independent and self-reliant. 

Millennials aka Gen Y: Millennials were children and young adults who entered the 21st century, as their group name echoes. They saw the rise of social media and online technologies. However, the most significant event for this group is 9/11. 

Their ability to remember the events of September 11 and their significance defines the Millennials who came into the age at the commencement of the war on terror. 

Nexters aka Generation Z: Today’s teenagers and young adults come into the age when the present is a war on terror, same-sex marriage is legal, and struggling global economy. 

They are born into unique cultural, political, and economic changes they could not recall not ever happening. As a result, members of Generation Z need to be connected instantly and constantly to experience stability and make an impact on the world.

Helpful Tips on How To Best Manage Generations

  1. Employees should provide satisfying work and opportunities to contribute, emphasize stability.
  2. Provide them with specific goals and deadlines. Provide them with managerial positions, mentor roles, offer coaching style feedback.
  3. Provide them with immediate feedback, flexible work arrangements, and opportunities for personal growth
  4. Make sure you know them personally, manage by results, give them immediate feedback, be flexible on their schedule and assignments.
  5. Ensure a work-life balance, allow self-direction and independence, and provide opportunities to work on multiple projects at once.

It is startling that generational differences have been relegated to the background as of now.

Companies are focused on the pay gap, equality, equity, and diversity, so employees achieve a work-life balance to make them more productive.

But this shouldn’t be the case since talent stacks up by generation.

Considerations must be given to each generation’s defining traits because they help understand their preferred ways of working and management style. Their familiar characters must be integrated into a company’s culture, and most of all, everyone, each individual, regardless of generation, must feel respected and valued.