Strategies that companies are
using to embrace generational
Direct effect of generational
differences in the workplace:
Benefits of embracing a
Stronger leadership team
experience of older workers
Respect for talent and
contributions of new workers
Other factors affected by
The perception of work
Decrease in morale
The Silent Generation
Born from 1922 – 1946
Oldest generation in the
Influenced by the Great
Depression and World War II
Started the Civil Rights
Men typically worked while
stayed home to raise children
Children were “seen but not
The Silent Generation
Loyal to employers and expect the same
Measure work ethic on timeliness,
productivity, and not drawing
Strong respect for authority
Resistant to change
Born from 1946 – 1961
76 Million (Makes up to 26% of
Influenced by the Vietnam War,
civil rights riots, Kennedys and
Martin Luther King
Created the term “workaholic”
Expect loyalty from employers
Work ethic is measured in hours
Grew up in a time of affluence
Optimistic and hard working
Inflated view of their financial
Believe rules should be obeyed
unless they are contrary to what
they want; then they are to be
Born from 1961 – 1982
50 Millions (Smallest
Born during the greatest anti-
child phase in modern
First generation where both
parents had to work
Experience single parenting
Distrust authority and large
institutions and the government.
Need for autonomy
Adapting to multicultural settings
Like to get things done
Redefined workplace loyalty
Focused on outcomes rather than
Loyal to their own career goal not
Generation Y (Millenniums)
Born from 1982 to 2002
80 Million (Largest generation)
Youngest generation entering
Shaped by parental excesses,
computer and technology
They feel great pressure to
succeed and meet increasing
demands – be the pressure from
the outside or from their own
Generation Y (Millenniums)
Accustomed to having influence
in decision making
Expect automation to support
In need of mentorship
Generation Z (iGeneration)
Born from 1999 onwards
According to the U.S. Census
Bureau, is a larger generation
than millennial or baby-
boomer at 61 million.
Raised by Xer parents in the
time of the greatest economic
instability since the Great
Value work and
acknowledges the need to
invest in their future now.
Generation Z (iGeneration)
Digital natives (5 screens at
Communicate with images
They are poised to have a
tremendous impact on the
Realists and self-branders
8-seconds attention span (12
seconds average in 2000)
By 2020, Gen Z will comprise 20
percent of the American
Significant conflicts in the
Errors and unresolved
Importance of recognition of
talent in each generation
Management and leadership
Different perspectives create
conflict among employees
Different channels of
Multigenerational training is not currently being
implemented by most companies
Awareness of diversity is acknowledged but not
Training resources are limited
Management and leaders lack of support
Professional purchased training
Financial literacy training and
Management and Leadership
engagement is required
Implementation of a diversified
Generations have different values, not wrong or right values. We
cannot afford to ignore all the talents each generation bring to the
workplace. Let’s learn to celebrate the differences!
A diverse workforce can drive behavior that translates into
productivity and profit gains
Hinweis der Redaktion
Ethnic and cultural issues/implications
The Traditional Generation at work is predominately a homogeneous population of white males. Although women make up the largest number within the population as a whole, men have higher employment rates. This is consistent with the values of the generation in which women remained at home to care for the family, generally only entering the workforce to support the nation or families during times of crisis such as WWII. This generation saw women enter the workforce and was confronted with issues of racial and sexual equality at work and in their communities.
These older Americans hold three-quarters of the nation’s wealth and are the executive leaders of some of the most established and influential companies in America.
This group not only survived the Great Depression of the 1930s but was instrumental in shaping the United States as an economic and military power. Patriotism, teamwork, “doing more with less” and a task-orientation very much define this generation. Rules of conduct, respect for authority and following directions are all very important touch points for this generation. Employees of the Traditional Generation are the keepers of the organization’s past and founding goals and beliefs. They are your organization’s historians.
Most organizations have as their president of the board of directors a member of the Traditional Generation, who sets the tone of the culture and is ultimately responsible for the strategic direction of the business.
The Traditional Generation boasted the first true innovators. They are responsible for developing today’s space program, creating vaccines for many diseases including polio, tuberculosis, tetanus and whooping cough and laying the foundation for today’s technological environment. They moved families from farms and cities to a new kind of community—suburbia. This generation was the first to pursue equality through the Civil Rights Movement.
Characteristics of Traditional Generation workers
Believe in conformity, authority and rules
Believe in logic
Very defined sense of right and wrong
Loyalty and respect for authority
View an understanding of history as a way to plan for the future
Consistency and uniformity
Seek out technological advancements
Command-and-control leadership reminiscent of military operations
Prefer hierarchical organizational structures and will continue to view horizontal structure in a hierarchical way
Compared with previous generations, more young adults pursued higher education or relocated away from family to pursue career and educational interests. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, post-war optimism inspired a sense of stability, opportunity and prosperity—values commonly held by the middle class. This was the dawn of space exploration, accessible long-distance travel and prosperity for many Americans. However, with increasing racial tensions in the United States, the emergence of the Vietnam War, as well as the self-exploration and peace movement of the 1960s, the collective identity of the Boomer Generation became more complex.
The Baby Boomer Generation witnessed and participated in some of the greatest social changes in the country’s history during the 1960s and 1970s with the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Movement. This generation experienced dramatic shifts in educational, economic and social opportunities.
The face of the workplace began evolving from a fairly racially homogenous, paternalistic environment to one of increased racial and gender diversity. The workplace slowly began to reflect the rapid political and social changes of the nation. This generation coined terms such as the “glass ceiling” and the “equal opportunity workplace” and began using personality profiles to build awareness of how to get along with all co-workers.
Baby Boomers are optimistic and positive. They grew up on an era when America was No. 1 and believed that by getting a college education and working hard you could achieve success. They grew up with leaders who were strong and confident. And America seem to possess the unlimited potential for growth and expansion. Boomers were raised by their World War II veteran parents as the symbols of victory. Society had high expectations – First award by the Times magazine for the “Man of the Year” to the baby boom generation claiming to be the one implementing change and end racial inequalities.
Generation X was born during the single most anti-child phase in American history. In the early 1960s, the birth control pill became widely available, and in 1973, abortion was legalized. These are two factors that are said to have contributed to the generation’s low numbers. Baby Boomers number 76 million and Millennials, 80 million. Generation X is sandwiched between them with 46 million.
In reality, members, especially young men, were disenfranchised by a loss of familial support and later technology (think: video games). In adulthood, the introspective, disconnected Gen-Xer has re-engaged through social media to find that they are not so different than everyone else. Facebook is dominated by Generation X and here we have discovered we were all hiding the same things from each other all these years.
Compared to the generations that came before it, Generation X is a highly-educated generation of Americans. More than 60 percent of Gen-Xers have attended college at one time or another. But, don’t get me started about how they tried to force the metric system on us or killed off our arts and music programs.
The following is a list of historical events that occurred during Generation X’s coming of age, which contributed to the Gen-Xer-As-Cynic stereotype.
The Energy Crisis of the 1970s Watergate
Iran Contra (1980s) Nuclear Disasters including
Union Carbide and Chernobyl
Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
Widespread Layoffs of the 1980s
Dot Com Boom and Bust of the 1990s
Characterized by the rise in instant communication technologies
Gen Y was raised at the most child-centric time in our history. Showers of attention and high expectations from parents foster a great deal of self-confidence.
This generation is typically team-oriented, banding together to socialize rather than pairing off.
They work well in groups, preferring team over individual endeavors. They’re good multi-taskers, so expect them to work hard. They expect structure in the workplace, acknowledge and respect positions and titles, and want a relationship with their boss. This doesn’t always mesh with Gen Xers’ love of independence and a hands-off style New to the workplace, this group is perhaps the most
in need of mentoring. The good news is they respond well to personal attention. They appreciate structure and stability, therefore mentoring Millennials (yet another moniker for Gen Yers) should be more formal, with set
meetings and a more authoritative attitude on the mentor’s part.
Generational literature has been fixated on the Millennials for over a decade, describing them as the “entitled generation” that was nearly a polar opposite of their Baby Boomer parents. There’s a new sheriff in town. Enter Gen Z. While closer in age to millennials, the warning for organizations is to avoid the assumption that they are simply a younger millennial. A cover story in Time magazine described Gen Z as “wired differently” — reminding us of these differences. This cohort has distinctive expectations of their employers.
Gen Z has been raised by Gen Xer parents who instilled a healthy understanding of losing in them. They grew up in a time of the greatest economic instability since the Great Depression. Many experienced a parent losing their job due to tough economic times. This mentality and coming of age in the recession have significantly impacted their pragmatic view of the world, their focus on preparation, and the need to be financially cautious. This outlook has shaped a generation that values hard work and acknowledges the need to invest in their future now. They want to be financially stable and are willing to perform to make this happen.
The Gen Z group includes those born after 1999. Some of the descriptors for this generation include Post-millennials, iGeneration, Digital Natives, Gen Tech, and Centennials. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Gen Z is larger than the millennial or the baby-boomer generation at 61 million. They are poised to have a tremendous impact on the workforce.
Is your organization an employer of choice for young workers entering the labor force? By 2020, Gen Z will comprise 20 percent of the American workforce — a critical mass that cannot be ignored. To attract this generation, and even more importantly to retain them, organizations must re-assess key elements of their workplace. With that said, consider these five tips to become an employer of choice for Generation Z.
Provide flexible, unique career advancement opportunities.
Sixty-four percent of Gen Z respondents in a Robert Half survey cited the importance of career opportunities in selecting a job. They are not seeking just any opportunity in an organization. They want individualized career paths and performance-based advancement opportunities. Providing flexible and unique career advancement opportunities are necessary to attract and retain this generation.
The one-size-fits-all career paths won’t appeal to Gen Z. These individuals won’t be accepting the same career path as their co-worker. They seek a more customized career path that fits their specific needs and capitalizes on the experiences they have already gained. Gen Z wants to use their talents and experience multiple roles. Rotation programs can be used to leverage their experience and provide growth opportunities. This customization may even go as far as allowing them to create their own job description!
Gen Z values stability and this can easily translate to a longer tenure with an employer. A key driver to gain this longevity is advancement. Members of Gen Z are willing to work hard and they want to be rewarded for their performance with advancement opportunities. Growth and professional development opportunities can be substituted when advancement is not available. The bottom line: Gen Z must be constantly challenged.
Deliver continuous learning.
Continuous learning is a critical part of growth for Gen Z. However, these opportunities for learning may look significantly different. Rotation programs could become a cornerstone in continuously exposing Gen Z to new opportunities for learning. With an emphasis on active learning, face-to-face communication becomes essential.
Gen Z expects to start at the bottom. They will embrace lateral moves that provide a challenge and an opportunity to grow. With clear expectations for their managers, they want mentoring and learning opportunities to prepare them for upward mobility and growth.
This need for continuous learning, then, requires that managers and mentors be available and provide continuous feedback. While Gen Z embraces those stretch assignments, these must be accompanied by feedback. They need to be kept apprised. Leveraging technology, learning takes place anywhere and anytime. They are used to figuring many things out on their own, so detailed instructions are not needed. They can simply be pointed in the right direction with general guidance. Gen Z prefers to find solutions and do so solo. They are used to sorting through large amounts of information on their own. After all, their parents often sent them off to “figure it out on your own.” When Gen Z comes back with a solution, one-on-one mentors will take on added importance in building Gen Z’s confidence to take the next step.
Change up training.
It’s back to the drawing board! Literally! Gen Z seeks more of a partnership with trainers – positioned more as “learning guides.” Gen Z is prepared to become “self-learners” or active learners. They prefer solving problems and finding solutions on their own — with a guide providing feedback.
Today’s organizations must consider re-thinking the lecture. An overreliance on lectures is out. Gen Z doesn’t want formal workshops. With shorter attention spans, smaller training pieces and faster paced approaches with more feedback are essential.
A variety of approaches is required to engage the Gen Z learner. “Observing and doing” is critical. This is a very visual learning generation. Short videos can be an effective training tool. Trainers should also consider games for learning — especially on mobile devices- and small group activities. Training must expand beyond the classroom as on-the-job training takes on added importance for these individuals.
It’s not just about how the training is delivered, but also about what is delivered. Learning should be competency based with a focus on problem-solving and soft skills training. Gen Z has grown up communicating through short text messages, twitter, and snap chat. As a result, specific training in writing and interpersonal skills are needed. Gen Z readily admits to needing help in the areas of self-evaluation, professionalism, time management, keeping a positive attitude, and maintaining high productivity levels. Training programs must be adjusted to target these areas.
Gen Z excels in thinking outside the box because they have had practice in being creative, critical thinkers — thanks to their parents’ approach to “go figure it out yourself”. They have always been exposed to the web for finding information, so seeking creative solutions is just second nature.
Re-think that open office-plan.
The office environment created to attract millennials may not appeal quite as much to Gen Z. The newest generation in the workplace is not as tribal as the millennials; they are a little more focused on individuality and their work environment should reflect this. Organizations, then, may need to morph this open office plan into one that more effectively meets multiple needs for multiple generations. Gen Z appreciates a collaborative work environment where they are constantly in touch with their peers. But it is important not to eliminate those offices yet! A hybrid office plan with private as well as collaborative work spaces is the environment of choice.
Gen Z prefers flexibility at work. This can be achieved through multi-locations and adjustable work hours. Unlike their Millennial counterparts, Gen Z is more likely to be willing to travel and/or relocate for a stretch assignment. The desired flexibility can be achieved with some remote work. This may mean that they work from home or even a coffee shop. Co-working spaces are also appealing. They are already accustomed to working remotely as they completed homework from virtually anywhere and at any time.
But Gen Z won’t be telecommuting full-time. The personal interaction that they value is achieved in the office and through on-the-job training, in-house mentoring relationships, and regular check-ins with their managers. Their need for face-to-face communication and collaboration is best met with a hybrid office format that provides opportunities for some remote work and flexible hours.
The uniqueness of today’s newest generation joining the workforce must be considered. Organizations can’t expect to recruit by the old means and attract this generation with old policies. Organizations must be flexible and creative to successfully recruit Gen Z employees.
For this digital generation, posting jobs online is essential. Companies, then, must have a stronger online presence and consider consistent branding across all channels. Because Gen Z is tech-savvy, organizations must be active online to be on the radar screen of Gen Z. To attract them, employers need to advertise the development opportunities they offer by including them in online job postings, in videos at career websites, and through social media branding messages.
Mobile optimization is a requirement for this generation. Companies must update the application process and consider the ease of navigation. Gen Z wants to upload their resume from their mobile device and prefer that it only take a few seconds to do so.
Gen Z wants to connect with the company, its culture, and its purpose. So companies must make it personal! Creating a consistent, memorable brand with stories gets the attention of Gen Z. They want to know what makes a company unique and they want a personal connection. Posting a video sharing stories from current employees helps in connecting to and attracting the Gen Z applicant. Organizations must be clear (and honest) in the company’s value proposition.
The war for talent is far from over. Those organizations that accommodate Gen Z workers sooner (rather than later) will be better positioned to more effectively wage that war. Organizations should begin preparing now by providing unique career advancement opportunities, delivering continuous learning, focusing on face-to-face communication, revamping training, creating hybrid work environments and re-thinking recruiting approaches.
Managing, Mentoring for Differences
All three generations embrace technology to increase
workplace efficiency. However, employers must be aware that Gen Y digital natives may grow impatient with the
applications that are the lifeblood of many corporations; applications they might consider “tired.” Finding ways
for these systems to provide the value these workers anticipate and expect within their terms – unified, electronic, and mobile – will enable and encourage them to
participate more fully in the organization.