Bridging the Generational Divide
I think it is important to understand how to manage our new employees. In the higher education environment in which I work, it is also important to understand our new customers: the students who enter our institution every fall.
The table of generational characteristics on page 49 is compiled from several different sources. It is important to note that there are different views of the exact time-frame to which each generation refers. A difference of a few years does not necessarily put an individual into a specific group. There may even be subgroups within each generation. And then there are folks like me who never fit in anywhere.
Thanks to growing up as the children of super-achiever parents, both Gen X and Gen Y have been brought up to believe they can do anything they set their minds to doing. They have been immersed in information technologies like video games, computers, cell phones and the Internet for most of their lives.
If we are going to manage, retain and motivate this new group of workers, we will have to learn to adapt. First, we have to get over the notion of "dues paying." These employees know we are in charge and they don't care. Both groups are willing to change jobs when necessary, so staying with one company is not as important to them as it was to my generation.
Even though Gen X and Gen Y have similar workplace characteristics, there are some differences in the way they react to certain situations. For example, a Gen X employee may resent working late if he/she thinks it only benefits the boss, while a Gen Y employee may refuse to work late if it conflicts with a personal schedule. Both groups of employees need to know that their work matters.