FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THE CHALLENGE OF MANAGING MULTIPLE GENERATIONS AT WORK
For the first time in US history, four generations may be working together in the same office: The Silent Generation (born 1925–1945), Baby Boomers (1946–1964),
Generation X (1965–1981), and Millennials (1982–2003). What are the best ways to cope?
Arlington, VA, August 10, 2012 — While working with multiple generations in the workforce is challenging, it isn’t impossible, says HR and hiring expert Barbara Mitchell, author of “The Big Book of HR.” The key is to take time to look for the common ground, she says.
“It’s also critical to honor and respect differences instead of letting them drive wedges between co-workers” she adds, noting that the best strategy is to realize that not everyone who is part of a certain generation behaves the same way.
Note, too, that in the coming years Millennials (born 1982-2003) will make up the largest segment of the US population, and, therefore, the workforce.
“Those of us who have been working for decades often find it hard to be patient with the younger employees on staff,” she has observed. “That’s why it is critical to understand where these folks are coming from.”
Managers need to realize that Millennials:
- Have always lived with the Internet.
- Never lived without the threat of terrorism.
- Are more environmentally conscious than their older co-workers.
- Are amazing multi-taskers.
- Are not brand-loyal—in fact they often get their product ideas from Facebook or Twitter.
- Do not view privacy in the same way that previous generations do.
- Think email is too slow, but they will adjust to using it in the workplace if they have to.
But these are not the biggest, or most difficult differences.
“What’s particularly troubling to the Silent Generation, Boomers, and even GenXers is that the Millennials don’t view work in the same way as they do,” Mitchell writes. “Although the oldest Millennials turned 30 this year, they still don’t see work as the main focus of their life—or the scope of their identity. And they certainly don’t see that loyalty to an organization pays off in the long-term.”
Rather, she says, they are more inclined to want to have a robust life outside of work that is fulfilling and meaningful.
“Yes, the rest of us want the same thing, but this generation seems more determined to make it happen,” Mitchell says, adding that Millennials also feel technology gives them a real edge in the workplace. “They know how to maximize its effectiveness and get work done in a shorter time period, and they can’t understand why if their work is finished, they should have to stick around the office.”
It’s no wonder that conflicts abound in today’s workforce.
“These clashing ideas on the definition of dedication, effectiveness, and efficiency are not going to be resolved overnight,” Mitchell explains.
So, when looking at the different generations at work, keep in mind that the best way to manage four generations at once is to have compassion and a strong understanding of the personalities at play in your office.
“Take the time to ask your employees what they value, and what services and support they believe they need to be most effective as employees,” she insists. “This type of open-minded communication will not only create peace in your organization, it will give you a real edge in your industry.”
About Barbara Mitchell
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and organization development consultant who is widely known in the areas of recruitment and retention. She has experience in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors and has consulted for a variety of organizations around the world.
She served in senior human-resources leadership positions with Marriott International and several technology firms in the Washington, DC, area before co-founding the Millennium Group International, which she sold in 2008. Her books include The Essential HR Handbook, and The Big Book of HR.
To read more of Mitchell’s thoughts and ideas on HR and hiring, log on to Be Inkandescent magazine at www.BeInkandescent.com.
About Be Inkandescent magazine
Be Inkandescent magazine is a monthly, online business publication for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs, published by Inkandescent Public Relations, an Inkandescent Group Company. Founded in January 2010 by journalist and entrepreneur Hope Katz Gibbs, the magazine has 30,000 subscribers and gets more than 400,000 hits/month.