It is no secret that there is a big divide within generations in the workforce today. With businesses employing people from mainly three different generations, it is important to learn how to collaborate with each other to bring out everyone’s individual strengths. Between the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials there is a lot to learn amongst them all, but change can sometimes be a difficult thing to accept and implement.
What makes each generation so different?
Generations are groups of people born in between certain years. The Baby Boomer generation was born between 1946 and 1964 making them between 72 and 54 years old today. Generation X was born between 1965 and 1984 making this group between 53 and 34 years old. The Millennial Generation was born between 1985 and 2000 making them between 33 and 18 years old.
Each generation shares similarities with current events, trends, crazes, education, technology, and other life situations. Their similar views and attitudes on certain topics bond them close together and makes them different from other generations. The more a business knows about the likes, dislikes, and dynamics of each generation, the easier it will be to integrate them all together in the workplace.
One study looked at primary concerns people have when searching for a job. Older participants (about 64 percent of them) spoke mainly about making money being their highest priority along with learning new skills. The younger generation that was interviewed instead talked about wanting to find a job they genuinely enjoyed doing and one that could make a difference in society (about 57 percent of them). These priorities vary drastically, so it is important to recognize these differences in order to completely understand each generation’s wants and needs in the workplace.
Old Habits Die Hard
Although there are still many adults in the workforce over the age of 33, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Baby Boomers now take second place to millennials for having the largest generation in the workplace. This means, whether we like it or not, millennial work ethics, ideas, and beliefs will be dominating businesses for a while, and many businesses who are run by older generations have a hard time letting go of the past and adopting the new and innovative ways of the future.
Being part of the millennial generation, I cannot imagine a time where “researching something” meant flipping through an actual encyclopedia instead of asking Siri or “getting directions” was on a paper map instead of built into my car. Everything I do from the moment I wake up including school, work, cooking, and even exercising uses some sort of technological device. Incorporating these kinds of tools into business is a no brainer for me, but it does pose a major problem for many older generation business owners who did not grow up with a cell phone in their hand.
3 Generational Differences in the Workplace
The main conflicts seen in the workforce between millennials and older generations are communication styles, technology, and the use of social media. These three aspects of business are essential to success in today’s technology driven world.
Communication– Communicating with people is vital to human existence but when it comes to different generations, they seem to have some different opinions on the right and wrong ways to do it. This can lead to conflict in the workplace. When it comes to older generations, they are all about formalities and respect. They grew up wearing a suit and tie to work every day and their communication style reflects this as well. They would prefer to send an email with proper grammar and spelling or talk to someone on the phone. Younger generations however are all about the instant gratification, especially when it comes to getting things done and are generally less formal in their day to day lives. Texting and instant messaging are their preferred ways of communicating because it is quick and to the point.
One major misconception is that millennials would prefer to communicate strictly online or use technology rather than speaking face to face. In one study it was discovered that 60 percent of millennials surveyed preferred to collaborate in-person rather than the 34 percent that prefer to use online methods.* This shows that despite the many misconceptions people have of millennials, all generations have similarities between them, and these similarities should be emphasized in the workplace.
Technology– Technology is another major aspect that sets the generations apart from each other. Each generation sees the uses of technology in different ways. Generation X for example views technology as a tool to help them get work done faster or assist them in balancing work and life. They would for instance see it beneficial to use technology to work from home, but they do not see it as 100 percent necessary to have all of the time. Millennials on the other hand use technology for just about everything, and many people unfairly judge that as something negative because they did not grow up with it. Typing away on a smartphone during a meeting might seem distracting or rude, but they could simply be keeping notes or looking up something constructive to add to the conversation.
The reality is that technology is here to stay and will keep growing and evolving. If a business cannot come to terms with this and embrace technology in their business, they will inevitably fall behind.
Social media– Networking plays a huge role in business and in today’s world social media is the main way to network and connect with people. Older generations sometimes have an issue with this fact and see social media as more of a curse than a blessing. This view will only hurt a company. Businesses should embrace social media and all of the opportunities it provides. Between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram a company can grow their business and their brand drastically by simply being present on these platforms. One study even found that that 71 percent of consumers who have had a positive social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.**
If you feel like social media might be beyond your skill set, we’re here to help you! Contact us at www.maxexposuresocialmedia.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org