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Best Solution to Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce

Posted on February 25, 2014
Debra KabalkinWritten by Debra Kabalkin | Email author

Did you know that today there are five generations working together today in the workforce?   As demographics shift, workforce issues for businessesmh900240341 need to be addressed as workers are staying in the workplace longer and putting off retirement.

To understand how to manage each you need to understand the differences

Generation

Born

Traits

Traditionals

Workers born before 1946

Loyal, respectful of authority, stubbornly independent, excellent work ethic, dependable, and have advanced communication and interpersonal skills.

Baby Boomers

Workers born between 1946 – 1965

Well-educated, question authority, excellent teamwork skills, and thrive on adrenaline-charged assignments.

Generation X

Workers born between  1965-1980

Independent, family-focused, intolerant of bureaucracy, critical, hardworking, and socially responsible.

Generation Y (Millennial)

Born 1981-1995

Highly socialized, loyal, technologically savvy, socially responsible, and require work-life balance.

Generation 2020 (Linksters)

Born after 1995

Technologically dependent, closely tied to parents, involved in green causes and social activism.

So what are some of the problems that managers and HR professionals need to consider?

  1. Older workers may have health problems, disabilities or physical limitations. – unfortunately the likelihood of having a disability increases with age; reported rates double from 19.4 percent for ages 45-54 to 38.4 percent for ages 65-69.¹
  2. Technology differences are a major problem between the generations. As workforce expands, the comfort level gap with computers, mobile devices, tablets, and social media does too. The Millennial generation expects that their work environment be digital, quick and collaborative. While, the Traditionalists and Boomers need more training and time to adjust to the technology and tools they have not become accustom to.
  3. Perceptions between the different generations can cause problems. The older generations (Traditionals and Boomers) seems to look at the young generation (Gen Y) as though they’re not very committed, and they don’t want to work as hard because they are looking for work-life balance.
  4. Problems can arise when younger bosses manage workers of a significantly different age group. The Boomer generation may say they won’t work for younger supervisors because younger bosses have dictatorial attitudes as they supervise older employees.

So how do you integrate the generations? Training is the solution; whether it is offering leadership classes for the younger supervisors (to teach them how to manage an older worker), or computer training for the older workers (so they can collaborate with the younger generations).

Trainers need to understand what learning activities are most engaging for learners today and recognize the significance of each learner’s contribution and should seek regular feedback to ensure learning is taking place.

1. Erica Steinmetz, (2006). Americans with Disabilities: 2002. Household Economic Studies U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Reports Issued May 2006

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