The present-day labor market faces the challenge of a high workforce generational diversity. Indeed, demographic changes, globalization, and ever-evolving technology have prolonged the performance of older generation professionals as well as enabled an early entry of younger generations to the labor market. As a result, the Veterans or the Silents, the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials commonly share the workplace.
However, the great disparity in worldviews, beliefs, and values challenges their coexistence and collaboration in the workplace, thereby posing a threat of organizational failure or damage to the business. In this vein, modern managers need to identify unique work-related perceptions, attitudes, and ethics of each generation, the common identity of which is shaped by critical events occurred in the society. Upon describing characteristics of each generation, this paper will indicate managerial approaches to different workforce populations, thereby recommending an effective strategy for thoughtful resources’ allocation.
The generation of Veterans, Silents, or Traditionalists born between 1925 and 1946 possesses an identity shaped by dramatics of Great Depression and the Second World War, female social discrimination, and radio being the key source of news. They are characterized by conservatism, respect for authority, hierarchy, and the established rules, hard work and sacrifice, loyalty, prioritization of duty, and value tradition. In this respect, the Veterans are typically viewed as old-fashioned, change and risk averse, autocratic (Grubb, 2016). Born between 1946 and 1964, the Baby Boomers are identified as optimistic, team players, having youth identity, competitive. The generation constitutes the most portion of the present-day labor force aged between 42 and 62 years. Raised up in the 1950-1970s, Baby Boomers experienced the Vietnam War, sexual revolution, the Civil Rights Movement, and the boost in space exploration. Brought up in the aftermath of the Depression era, many Baby Boomers attribute high value to education and employment, which explains their dedication to work, unrealistic goals, interest in power, political involvement, and self-orientation.
The period of 1964-1981 gave the population of Generation X stereotyped as selfish, cynical, impatient, and slackers. Brought up in the era of the divorce popularization, television development, technological revolution, space shuttles, and the rise of AIDS, Generation X members are occupied with TV programs and shows, prefer later marriage and prolonged life with parents. At the same time, they are flexible, technology competent, informal, self-reliant, and value balanced. Those born between 1982 and 2002 are labeled as Generation Y and defined as spoiled and disrespectful, technology dependent, and non-concentrated. Members of this internet generation are technology savvy, fast-paced, entrepreneurial, multi-tasking, participative, and civic-minded (Spiegel, 2013).
These differences in generational values and features should inform recruitment, management, and training strategies of business managers. For Baby Boomers, managers should redefine retirement with a new track, give credit to their experience and skills, and reward with monetary and status symbols. This generation benefits from traditional forms of training with the limited use of technology and readiness for change. When managing Generation X, it is relevant to focus on short-term incentive programs, by-objective management, immediate rewards, and choice creation. Accordingly, their professional training should rely on technology, promote learning, create choices, and be interesting. The maximum value of Generation Y workforce is achievable through the active use of internet, recognize and value diversity, offer team opportunities, and supporting experience leverage while showing meaning and providing guidance. As the most technology-dependent population, Generation Y is responsive to workplace training if it is based on technology, provides orientation, and implies mentor programs. Therefore, managers need flexibility and respect for generational differences when allocating resources.
Grubb, V. M., 2016. Clash of generations: Managing the new workplace reality. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Spiegel, D. E., 2013. The Gen Y handbook: Applying relationship leadership to engage Millennials. Pennsauken, NJ: BookBaby.