Bridging the Generational Divide
I WAS talking to a print manager recently who asked me how I handled employees who talk on cell phones and/or send text messages while working. I said well, if it isn't a safety issue, and they're getting their job done, I don't really worry about it. This led into a conversation about the younger generation of workers and prompted me to write this article.
It is estimated that 73,000 baby boomers will retire in the next 15 years. As these highly skilled workers retire, we will be challenged as managers to fill their positions with equally skilled employees. How will we recruit them, how will we manage them, and once we get them, how will we keep them? For the first time in forever, we have the possibility of three, and sometimes even four different generations in the workplace: traditionalists (born before 1943), boomers (born 1943-1965), Gen X (born 1966-1980) and Gen Y or Millennial (born 1980-2003). Understanding the different beliefs or value systems of the generations in the workplace will help managers manage better.
Loosely defined, a generation is a cohort of people who share common characteristics, values and notable events over the course of 20-25 years. A generation is shaped by historical and cultural life experiences, family, and the technological innovations of the time.
How will the new workers we hire be different from those who are retiring? Beloit College publishes an annual list of the "mind-set" of incoming students. For example, the computer is older than some of the new employees we may hire, as they were born at the same time as Macs and PCs. Instead of the lighters my generation held above their heads at rock concerts, the younger generations use the lights from their cell phones. Women have always had tattoos, and Toyotas and Hondas have always been made in the United States.