By Amber Paley
The majority of the current workforce is made up of three generations- Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millenials- and the diversity among those generations is blatant. Within each generation is a relatively benign but present ageist view on the surrounding generations. Boomers think Millenials are careless and, although educated, only educated topically; they can do their jobs, but take away their computers and they won’t have a clue, unlike Boomers and Generation X. Millenials tend to think of Boomers and Generation X as behind the times as well as technology-resistant and inept. What all generations need to understand is that that everyone benefits from generational diversity in the workplace.
Generations’ work ethic and ideals are the result of the time in which they grew up; each generation had different political, economic, and social experiences that ultimately affected who they are personally and professionally. Due to these experiences, each generation has something to offer to another. But first, what are the characteristics of each generation?
Baby Boomer Generation (1946-1964)
Due to the sheer population size of this generation, it makes up the majority of the workforce; it also represents those that make up the majority of high ranking positions in companies. It is a generation known for its strong work ethic, even being referenced as workaholics. Baby Boomers expect theirs’ and others’ work output to be of the highest quality possible, and value teamwork and personal-achievement. It is a generation known to have a hardworking mind-set.
Generation X (1965-1979)
Compared to Baby Boomers, Generation X has very different values. They value independent work more so than teamwork; a balanced professional and personal life more so than a workaholic lifestyle; and a more relaxed work environment. It is a generation known to have a realistic mind-set- they like to work hard, but toward a realistic, pragmatic end.
The Millenial Generation is one known to also value a career-personal balanced life. Unlike previous generations, this generation values quick and constant communication between professionals in a work environment. They want to please those around them; it is a generation known to have a goal-oriented mind-set- they don’t like to give up.
Given the blatant differences between the generation’s work values, each can influence and benefit the other. Below is how.
Workplaces that retain a multi-generational workforce have advantages over those that do not. Such a workforce retains people of all ages and thus experience levels. A diverse company has their pick of the best employees possible, which is not something realized by companies lacking a multi-generational workforce; they have limited themselves to a smaller pool of applicants. As a result of having a talented workforce, companies can expect that new and young talent will seek them out because they will benefit professionally from the skills they develop. Thus, employees benefit by being surrounded by the best of the best.
Experience and Professional Skills Are Gained
Because a diverse workforce contains so many different types of people, all employees gain an understanding of those whose values are different. This understanding of others gives employees skills incapable of being learned in a work environment that isn’t multi-generational. Additionally, young and less experienced employees will learn by both example and experience in a diverse workplace. This will ultimately give those less experienced employees more room to grow professionally as well as a strong professional foundation when they themselves are running and managing companies in the future.
Multi-generational Values Translates to Balance and Strengths
Each generation benefits from the values and work ethics of those around it. Generation X and the Millenials undoubtedly benefit from Baby Boomers’ hardworking values, professional experience, and vast knowledge of foundational procedures before technology did much of the work for us.
Generation X’s value of a balanced life certainly benefits Baby Boomers, who may work too much. Individuals who are work too much are generally less content with their job and are more prone to making mistakes than others; both of these outcomes prove detrimental to productivity. Generation X’s realistic approach to work benefits the Millenials, whose never-give-up mentality may prevent them from knowing when it would be more beneficial to let go of a goal than continue to pursue it.
Millenials’ vast technological understanding and ability to adapt to the ever-changing technological world benefits both Generation X and the Baby Boomer generation, as they did not grow up with technologies that allow their work to be easier to complete and more efficient.
Overall, each generation may be influenced to adopt the values of another, partially or totally. Ultimately this translates to well-rounded and productive employees.
Amber Paley is a guest post and article writer bringing us information on the importance of generational diversity in the work place. Outraged by the prevalence of elder abuse in the U.S., Amber spends much of her professional life writing educational articles to help those affected by elder abuse find a good nursing home abuse lawyer.