It is a great time to be in the workforce. For the first time a modern history, there are four generations working side by side. Throughout my working career, I have gained wisdom and experience from my multi-generational counterparts. As a late-bloomer, baby-boomer born in 1955, I can see and feel the cultural and social changes as my bright, young, energetic colleagues exhibit their prowess. This is the age of “Intergenerational Dynamics” which blends the generations into an engaged, diverse team where everyone finds meaning in their work. It is also the age of “Knowledge Transfer” which is about adapting to new learning styles that is acceptable for each generation. This is the time for “Generational Temperance” as we cast aside stereotypes and accept our multi-generational co-workers as esteemed colleagues who are blessed with unique talents and skills. Overall, people are working longer due to improvements in the quality of life and health. Some also continue to remain actively employed due to constraints in financial security. Regardless of whether you “work to live” or “live to work”, each working generation has something to offer their progeny.
The Traditionalists: They may be the oldest of the four generations, but they have been taught respect for authority, workplace loyalty and workplace longevity. As a result of long-term employment, the Traditionalist Generation is known to be fiscally responsible and frugal. They believe in saving and many participate in financial programs during their tenure to ensure a stable retirement. These men and women will be around for a while. Many are experienced, competent, healthy and desire to continue to make meaningful contributions in the workplace. We can all benefit their wisdom and good example. This generation is “cooking with gas”.
The Baby-Boomers: The Baby-Boomers are better educated than the Traditionalists and also possess a strong work ethic. Our attitudes and values were shaped by the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and Woodstock. We witnessed the first human to set foot on the moon and the first human heart transplant. Like our Traditionalists counterparts, we also believe in workplace loyalty and longevity. Boomers are also savers and fiscally responsible. Since we are fully engaged in our careers, many Boomers do not have immediate plans for retirement. The “Zoomers” have reinvented retirement for all of us and we will soon be the largest retirement generation in modern history. Groovy!
Generation X: These are the children of the Baby-Boomers. They are a self-reliant group with an informal work style and prefer to “work to live”. Gen Xers perform well in a results-driven organization. They are known for “Entrepreneurship” and business risk taking. My Gen X friends have taught me the values of personal development, self-reliance and self-assertiveness in the workplace as well as in relationships. The best advice that I acquired and put to use in my business life and personal life is from my “like really totally awesome” Gen X friends.
The Millennials: This group represents the youngest and the largest generation in our current workforce. They are known as “knowledge workers” because they are tech savvy, self-confident and highly collaborative. The Millennials are also know to be devoted to their own careers. My up and coming Millennial friends and co-workers have taught me new ways of communication. It is acceptable to email and tweet rather than call; it is unthinkable to leave home without a cell phone; and use social media to create business relationships. I like the idea of business casual attire as the new norm and drinking coffee on the go is chic. Moreover, it is quite a talent to learn how to handle a coffee cup, cell phone and briefcase at the same time. Some business and tech jargon used today would fluster Daniel Webster and J.P. Morgan, but is it’s really a “no brainer”. Our creative Millennial Generation put the “think tank” to good use and made significant contributions to help our workforce work faster and easier with the touch of an app and the click of a mouse. Congratulations Millennials! You are our most educated and entrepreneurial generation so far.
So have fun, collaborate, share knowledge, and respect the multi-generational workforce. There is more in common than you think and the best is yet to come.
Busch, A. S. (2014). Management challenges in a multi-generational workforce(Unpublished undergraduate paper). Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, IN.
About the Author: Adele S. Busch is the Owner/President of ASB Business Service. “Business By Personal Invitation”. ASBoffers customized and selective telephone outreach for businesses and professionals, specializing in Sales and Business Appointment calls, Meeting Reminder Calls, Customer Follow-Up Calls and Business Research. Adele can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 614-477-2961.