At a recent Conference Board Knowledge Strategy Exchange Network meeting, I had the pleasure hearing Adwoa Buahene from nGen Performance talk about the mix of generations at work (Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen Xers, Gen Ys), and most importantly, provide some very practical ideas on how to deal with the key challenges and create a good work environment for all.
A few key "take-aways":
- Don't focus on one generation a the expense of the others. Many organizations focus so much attention on the impact of Gen X that they alienate the others.
- Socio-economic status affects the prevalence/relevance of generational characteristics
- You can't have engaged employees (expenditure of discretionary effort, emotional connection to the organization, acceptance of accountability) unless you have an engaged organization (transparent, responsive, partnering)
- Don't over generalize and risk creating biases - seek to understand, and respect, each individual for their uniqueness, and potential contributions
- It's important that organizational change initiatives, and language, accomodate the different generations at work
- The sense of time is one of the key differentiators between the generations. E.g. younger generations are expecting value from their participation/contributions to an organization in a far shorter time frame than Traditinoalists or Boomers who were prepared to wait for many years. Generation X/Y will figure out in the first 90 days of employee whether or not the employer will deliver on what was promised during recruitment and around time of hiring.