Five Generations, One Workplace

09.21.2011
HR & Safety

New CBIA program to help sort them out

Perhaps never before have five generations with vastly different experiences, beliefs and behaviors existed in the marketplace: or for that matter, within your company.

Sitting side-by-side (or cubicle-by-cubicle) in today’s workplace are older employees of the “Silent Generation” born approx. 1937-1945, when big bands ruled the dance floors and airwaves, and young “Millenials” (born 1977-1992) who download mp3 files, text messages and constantly post updates to Facebook.

In between are two sets of Baby Boomers (older ones born 1946-1954; and younger ones born 1955-1964), and Gen X, people born between 1965 and 1976. It’s a widely varied mix of work ethics, styles and even language.

“The generation gap is not a new phenomenon,” said USA Today. “Rebellious baby boomers coined the term in the late 1960s. But some experts say the disparities today are deeper and more complex, making it harder for workers of various ages to communicate.”

Another wrinkleno pun intendedis that the longer the nation’s poor economy forces baby boomers to stay in the workplace, the more likely they are to become under the managerial leadership of much younger co-workers.

Capturing the attention of members of one or more generations and inspiring them into harmonious, productive co-existence requires an under_standing of their personalities, the media they use, and how their history dictates the messages that most resonate with them.

Knowing how to speak to these multiple generations could be key to your company’s success in an increasingly interconnected world. You have to know how to reach people from very different backgrounds in order to achieve your business’s optimal performance.

It’s not just a matter of old-fashioned, by-the-book “training,” but a highly complex process of skill development, attitudinal development and methodology for setting professional goals. Savvy managers will seek out ways to learn how to connect the generations as much as possible in their workplaces.

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