Powering Change In The Workplace | The generation gap in the workplace - and its affect

The generation gap in the workplace - and its affect

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Posted 10 October 2017 08:13:00 BST | By UK Team

We've heard all these phrases being branded about, but what exactly does it mean and how does it actually affect us in the Workplace?

Does the generation gap have a negative affect or as businesses should we embrace the wealth of knowledge across the generations?

There are many discussions for and against making allowances for different generations, but one thing is clear, each generation has cut a path for the next to reach the heights of innovation and technology advances we have today.

Related article: Five things you should know when working with Millennials

Baby Boomers: born 1946 - 1965

Baby Boomers are committed to hard work, living through social upheaval, wars and presidential assassinations to name a few, all while watching as new technology begun to take its first steps into the Workplace. This group built the modern foundation for technology in the workplace, think of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, they may not have had the technology advances we have today, but they had the drive and vision which has carved a path for future generations.

A portion of this generation have retired, but don't think they are going to go quietly, not all Baby Boomers are ready to start gardening and playing lawn bowls, most are expected to continue to work well into their sixties, which will have a huge impact on the Workplace.

"Businesses need to employ the broad-based business experiences of Baby Boomers to foster and transfer cross-generational knowledge" ~ Glennis Hanley, Monash University

Generation X: born 1966 - 1976

Sometimes referred to as the MTV generation, Generation X entered the workplace with word processors, fax machines, chunky mobile phones and the introduction of internet, but we shouldn't overlook this generation, new research shows this group demand the same workplace trends (agile working, BYOD, freelancing) as the younger generations.  Forty and fifty somethings are just as hungry and passionate for innovation, technology and workplace change as their younger counterparts.

“Almost half of Gen-X are likely to start their own business in the next ten years and more than half of Gen-X believe a job for life ͛culture stifles development, with one in five planning to move industry sectors in the next two years” ~ Vauxhall Media

Zennials, a sub-generation: born 1977 - 1983

I completely identify with this generation, Zennials had an analogue childhood, and grew up as technology was advancing. As digital technology entered the Workplace, so did the Zennials. This group have already advanced in their careers, directors, entrepreneurs, and business owners, they have taken their seats on leadership teams and in the boardroom. Zennials will change the landscape of business as they have a strong understanding of innovation and technology and can bring this together with their deep-rooted sense of business (which the Baby Boomer generation influences).

Millennials/Generation Y: born 1977 - 1994

I literally just scrape into this category by a few months, and to be honest in terms of technology and popular culture, I identify with the sub-generation of Zennials. This generation (excluding the sub generation of Zennials) are in the throes of progressing their careers, and moving up the corporate ladder or already part of leadership teams, their fresh ideas and new ways of working should be embraced, although we need to remember they aren't the first group to desire an agile workplace, they just have the technology to make it possible.

"89% of Millennials would prefer to choose when and where they work rather than being placed in a 9-to-5 position" ~ Odesk

Generation Z: born 1995 to present

Should we be making concessions in the workplace for this generation? In short no, Generation Z have yet to make a massive impact on the workplace, in their very early 20's the majority of this group are in junior or entry level positions, by the time they start to climb the corporate ladder, technology would have advanced, social platforms, trends and fads will have changed and we may be looking at a completely different mind-set. We need to give this generation a chance to find their feet and understand how business functions.

"85% Of Gen Z Uses Social Media to Learn About New Products". ~ Marketing Charts

Very soon we will be facing the prospect of five generations working together, this will have a huge impact on employees, but I for one think the opportunity is extremely exciting. Businesses will thrive with a mix of multi-generations in the workplace, each offering a different skill set, range of ideas and knowledge base giving employees the ability to share and collaborate on a bigger and more diverse scale.

Bridge the generation gap and stay connected

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