This is the second in a four-part series on leadership advice for engaging the hearts and minds of the Millennial Generation in the Workplace. Make sure you’re caught up before you dive into this one, because today we’re getting straight into the breakdown of generational differences in the workplace.
In order to truly understand the Millennial Generation ‘dilemma’ in the workplace, we’ve got to understand what all these generations are. So let’s take a minute to break down the different generations and shed some light on the nurturing that has brought about those differences…
In the workplace today, there are four (very) different generations. Baby Boomers, who were born from to 1945 to 1963. Generation X, who were born from 1964 to 1979. Millennials, or Generation Y, who were born from 1980 to 1995. And, soon to enter the workforce, Generation Z, born after 1995. All of these individuals coming from very different upbringings (nurturing), which have lead them to live their lives in very different ways. And as an outcome, they all come to the workplace with very different expectations and reasons for choosing to do what they do: all of this leads to generational differences.
Boomers came of age in the 70’s when there was a revolt against ‘the man.’ It was all about free love and (in my opinion) the best music that was ever written and performed. Baby Boomers grew up in a time where they had freedom as children that nurtured independence and creative thinking – the only rule for Baby Boomer children was to be home by dinner! At work, Boomers were loyal to their employer (thinking that jobs were for life). Their priorities were to work, they were amazingly productive and worked best by themselves as they were led by command-and-control managers that wanted employees to deliver and not ask questions. “Sit down, shut up, and do your job” was a common style experienced. Boomers focus on process.
Gen X’ers emerged on the scene in the 80’s, during the emergence of technology that would forever change the workplace: email, cell phones, long, long work days, and a focus on teaming. In fact, Generation X team members are the very best at creativity, problem solving and efficiency because they grew up in a world of team work. Gen X’ers focus on results, however, they have brought a mindset of ‘family comes first’ to their work approach.
Millennials are the product of Baby Boomers (I say that because I myself am a Boomer). They have grown up around omni-present ‘helicopter parents’ who were always hovering over, making sure that Gen Y’s every need was taken care of and every problem or challenge was solved for them. This smothering style of parents unfortunately stymied critical problem solving abilities and independence. Millennials have never known a world without computers, cell phones or the internet, answers to questions were just a ‘Google’ away, and they received ‘participation ribbons’ for just about everything they did as kids. (Again, Boomers did not want their Gen Y children to feel inferior in any way.)
Gen Y are also the most educated generation in history. They are not obsessed about owning a home or a car. Friends come first in their lives. They have, on average, 3.4 active Social Media accounts and spend, on average, 17 hours per week on Social Media. 90% share information about their consumer purchases with their friends through Social Networks. 74% ask friends for recommendations before buying. 20% say they would pay $150 per month to have someone else manage their lives and their most used ‘buzzwords’ are Authenticity and Social Causes.
As you can see, there are three very different generations that are all heavily dominating the workforce right now, all with varying expectations of what to do and how to do it. These generational differences affect our everyday experiences at work.
And there’s more! Tune in next week to find out more about the different ways Millennials, Gen X’ers and Boomers navigate the workplace.
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, partner at Incrementa Consulting Inc., #1 Best Selling Author, and International Keynote Speaker. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.Tags: Baby Boomer, Business Culture, Change, Employee Engagement, Generation Gap, Generational Differences, Hiring, Intergenerational Teams, Leader, Leadership, Millennials, Robert S. Murray, Team, Team Work, Work Culture, Work Style