Four generations in the same workplace? It’s a reality for some companies. With the Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers and Veterans under one office roof, companies need to manage a range of work and lifestyles.
Here’s an overview of the four generations and their workplace motivations :
Millennials, Generation Y, Echoes (1981 to present)
Team-oriented Millennials want to be treated as equals. But, coming from overscheduled childhoods with lots of structure, they need lots of feedback.
Generation X (1965 to 1980)
Skeptical Gen Xers grew up in the era of downsizing. In their mind, no job is safe – so you should do your own thing. Seeing the havoc that downsizing played, they prize work-life balance and won’t be married to their jobs.
Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964)
Optimistic and keen to change the world, Baby Boomers throw themselves into their causes, including work. Although “question authority” is their mantra, Boomers tend to have workaholic natures. They seek consensus, often through a flurry of meetings.
Veterans or Traditionalists (before 1945)
Veterans respect authority and hard work. They favour a top-down leadership style and take pride in a job well-done. They expect seniority, experience and perseverance to be rewarded.
Tips for managing four generations:
When managing work teams, use a blend of personal and group motivation techniques. Focus group members on goals they share – such as completing a project on time, cutting costs or increasing sales. But also come up with goals and management plans for each member of the team – customize your approach to the values of each person. For example, a Gen Xer may want to be rewarded with a vacation day to spend with family, whereas a Veteran may prefer an award and a write-up in the company newsletter.
Juggling four generations may not be as difficult as it sounds. Most companies do not have all four generations in the workplace. That’s because the youngest Veterans are in their mid 60s and the oldest Millennials finished college in 2003. As a result, most companies are made up of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers – two generations that have a more narrow gap than, say, between Veterans and Millennials.
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