Five Generations in the Workforce
Did you know that it’s the first time in history that our workforce includes workers from five different generations? Stop to think about that; five different generations can mean that 70 year olds are working with 20 year olds. This is an exciting time with such variety and diversity and it can (and does) pose multiple challenges for those in the workforce.
The topic of generations has become more and more of interest to me in the past year as I have watched and heard from all of these generations. Let’s take those “millennials” for instance. I have heard and used the word millennial in the past year, perhaps thousands of times. I hear the good, the bad, and the ugly about them as it relates to their strengths and weaknesses. It’s probably all true, but that’s not the point of my growing intrigue.
Stephen Covey, in his book Seven Habits for Highly Effective People discusses the habit of Seek First to understand and then to be understood. THAT’S my point. We all see the world as WE ARE, from our own perspectives, experiences, and generations. This is the reality from which we operate our daily lives. BUT each person, each generation is unique and has strengths and weaknesses.
Each week it becomes more evident that each of these generations do not understand the other generation. This is not new information, I’m certain! Last week, during a breakout session at a workforce, economic development conference I attended, the moderator asked this question, relating to workforce development. “If you had no obstacles in your path, money or resources or time, what would you dream that could help solve the problems that exists in our work force?”
My answer: educate each other on the generations and how they see the world, what they value, and the strengths of those generations. That does not mean we will all change; it does mean that we can have an understanding and empathy for other people and therefore, move forward with less judgment, frustration and negativity, which in turn benefits people and companies.
That’s the purpose of this post and the ones to follow: to provide information about each generation in the hopes that you will learn something and have a deeper appreciation of each generation and their unique qualities. Additionally, I’m hoping to spark conversation for you in your workplace or those with whom you interact. Lastly, maybe you’ll be compelled to do a bit of research when you find yourself not understanding and or frustrated with another generation.
- Traditionalists: Born before 1946. The oldest (and wisest) generation of today’s workforce
- Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964. Workaholic was first coined for this generation
- Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1976: This was the first generation to challenge the status quo.
- Millennials or Generation Y: Born between 1977 and 1997. They have just surpassed the Generation X as the largest generation in the workplace.
- Generation Z: born after 1997 These are the up and coming generation of workers, stepping in as the fifth generation in today’s workforce.
You can certainly google generations, generations in the workplace and find hundreds of articles. I am taking bits and pieces from those resources, the information I have learned firsthand from my personal experiences and anecdotes to compile my posts. This is not scientifically researched. That’s not my point. I simply want to provide a platform for understanding.