When it comes to running a company in 2017, CEOs and managers are struck with a new dilemma: With a brand new generation being ushered into the workforce, companies are finding themselves with a diverse array of employees ranging from baby boomers to millennials. With major differences between them, learning how to manage and lead everyone successfully comes down to understanding what sets each generation apart. From values to characteristics to basic needs and wants – there's more that separates these co-workers than simply their age.
Baby boomers (1946-1964)
Committed to providing financially for their families, men and women born between the years of 1946 and 1964 devoted their lives to working hard, often sacrificing authentic family time and a personal lifestyle. Loyalty to their job often meant a lifelong career at the same company, slowly climbing the corporate ladder after years of paying their hard-earned dues.
Generation X (1965-1980)
Born in the midst of the Vietnam War, many Gen Xers felt compelled to rebel against authority, ushering in a new way of thinking in the workplace. Following on the heels of a generation before them that many consider to have been "workaholics" (to the detriment of their personal lives), the workforce in the Gen X era fought adamantly against that notion.
However, with the emerging tech world toward the end of Generation X, thanks in large part by the creation of Apple, Inc. by Steve Jobs in 1976, many Gen Xers found themselves more inclined to work on their skillsets, maintaining their value to the companies they worked for.
While Generation X may have been around for the creation of Apple and other companies beginning to make their mark in the tech world, it is millennials – or Generation Y – that have taken full advantage of growing up in a technologically advanced generation.
Many millennials find themselves being stereotyped as a workforce of young adults that lack dedication and work ethic– often at the condemnation of those from the baby boomer era. It is true that millennials are driven by completely different values than the generations before them. Their desires, needs and expectations are geared more directly toward life fulfillment and enjoyment, as opposed to simply working to earn a living wage.
These days millennials want a fast trajectory to success, freedom to make decisions and take action and to enjoy their lives outside of the workplace. And truly, should we blame them? With the most educated and technologically progressive workforce in history, their skills meet their aspirations. While some see their job-hopping mentality as a "lack of loyalty" to employers, others understand that they are simply moving toward a position and company that offers the culture they wish to have.
With the most educated and technologically progressive workforce in history, their skills meet their aspirations. While some see their job-hopping mentality as a "lack of loyalty" to employers, others understand that they are simply moving toward a position and company that offers the culture they wish to have.
Bridging the gap
To effectively bridge the gap between these multigenerational employees, companies are beginning to look at culture as the roadmap to success. Now it's about providing more than just a decent salary and benefits. While pay and benefits may continue to appease the remaining baby boomers, the workforce of Gen X and Gen Y are looking for incentives, gratification and a healthy work-life balance. Through an understanding of each generation – and how it dictates their mentality both inside and outside of the workplace – corporate heads are cultivating a company culture that appeals to the masses, and, in turn, leads to success.