Four Generations at Work

by / Wednesday, 06 January 2016 / Published in General, iCORE

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For the first time in history, we have 4 generations sharing the same workplace that spans over 7 decades.

This span in age, as well as variations in generational characteristics, will require considerably more well-balanced work environments in order to satiate the growing needs and demands required by each generation.

Who are these generations? What characteristics do they exemplify?

SILENT GENERATION

  • The Great Depression
  • Migration to the “suburbs”
  • Obligation to personal and community needs
  • Insatious desire to overcome losses marked by The Great Depression
  • Traditionalists grew up during lean times
  • Many Traditionalists worked for the same employer their entire life
  • Raised in a paternalistic environment
  • Value morals, safety and security as well as conformity, commitment and consistency
  • Favor traditional business models with a top-down chain of command
1929-1945

  • Politically conservative
  • Communal
  • Ambitious and goal-oriented
  • Carried a strong work ethic into industrialized factories
  • Consider work a privilege
  • Loyal
  • Respect authority
  • Extremely traditional
BABY BOOMERS

  • Born in rise of Feminism
  • Watergate Scandal
  • Rampant inflation
  • Desire to get ahead
  • Extremely hardworking and motivated by prestige, perks and position.
  • Baby Boomers relish long work weeks and define themselves by their professional accomplishments.
  • Workaholic generation who expect younger generations to also overwork
  • Baby Boomers tend to criticize younger generations for deficient work ethic and commitment in the workplace.
1946-1964

  • Impatient,  free spirited and dedicated to employers
  • Self-reliant, confident, and independent.
  • challenge and question the status quo and established authority systems
  • Not afraid of confrontation
  • Will not hesitate to challenge established trasitions.
  • Dedicated, achievement-oriented and career-focused
  • Welcome exciting, challenging projects and strive to make a difference
  • Competitive
  • Clever, resourceful and strive to win
  • Believe in hierarchal structure and rankism and may have a hard time adjusting to workplace flexibility trends.
  • Believe in “face time” at the office and may fault younger generations for working remotely.
GENERATION X

  • Economic uncertainty
  • Crave security
  • Skeptical
  • “Latchkey” Kid
  • Came of age in an era of two-income families, rising divorce rates and a faltering economy
  • Manufacturing economy to a service economy
1965-1978

  • Women join workplace
  • Motivated by compensation
  • Financially cautious and conservative
  • Independent, resourceful and self-sufficient
  • Value freedom and responsibility
  • Many in this generation display a casual disdain for authority and structured work hours.
  • Embrace a hands-off management philosophy and dislike being micro-managed
  • Comfortable easily adaptable to technology
GENERATION Y

  • Fiercely independent
  • Confident yet realistic
  • See their social life and business life as “family”
  • Fastest growing sector of today’s workforce
  • Grew up with technology and rely on it to perform their day-to-day tasks
  • Prefer to communicate digitally through e-mail and rather than face-to-face contact and prefers webinars and online technology to traditional lecture-based presentations.
  • Lost interest in fast-track
1979-1997

  • “Entitled” attitude
  • Enjoys team environment, wanting to be included and involved
  • Willing to trade high pay for flexible schedules, fewer billable hours and a better work/life balance
  • Prioritize family over work
  • Ambitious, confident and achievement-oriented.
  • Have high expectations of their employers
  • Not afraid to question authority or take on new challenges
  • Value teamwork and seek affirmation and input from others
  • Loyal and committed
  • Crave attention in the form of feedback and guidance
  • Appreciate being kept in the loop and seek frequent praise and reassurance
  • Benefit greatly from mentors who offer guidance in order to help them develop their careers

“We live in an era in which office design is completely dominated by the worldview of the Baby Boomer generation. Their perspective is so dominant in the workplace that its influence has become invisible—like the air that surrounds us. 

However, by 2020 Generation Y will comprise over 50% of the workforce (Carlson, 2009; Meister and Willyerd, 2010), while the proportion of Baby Boomers will decline to 23%. To properly support, and attract and retain Generation Y workers, companies will have to provide workspaces and facility programs that align with their needs and preferences.” 

What does this mean for how our workplace operates?

Read more in Generational Preferences: A Glimpse into the Future Office

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