Now, for the first time, four separate generations are in the workforce. While not every corporation has the diversity of all these generations, many of them do. Some offices could see a change to inter-generational worker populations in the next few years or even months! There are certain stereotypes about each type of person from each century. To understand how the corporate culture could evolve, it may be helpful to look at the stereotypes as general measures of culture.
The Baby Boomers are hard-working and dependable. They do not leave a job or career unless circumstances absolutely require it. They are loyal to the company but see work as a place to go in order to take home a check. If tension arises between coworkers or a boss is difficult to deal with, the Baby Boomers are likely to keep their heads down and keep working. They are unable to use advanced technology and still cling to their typewriters.
Generation X are in their late 20’s and early 30’s and like to have a little freedom in the workplace. They do not agree with micromanaging and are willing to change jobs if they feel too constricted.
Generation Y are considered lazy and entitled. They are good with technology but not very good at working in teams. They prefer to email than to make a phone call when an issue arises. This generation also does not bat an eye at starting a new career, never mind a new job. They appreciate emotional support and will leave a high-paying job if they feel underappreciated.
Generation Z are the youngest in the workforce. They enjoy working in high-tech environments and prefer to text or instant message than to email or make a phone call. They see phone calls as intrusive and even rude. They look for a good community environment and opportunity to climb the ladder in a job. If there are not enough metaphorical doors in sight, they may leave the job.
While these are all stereotypes, awareness of them can assist when identifying the roots of some conflicts. Here is an example of a clash in perspectives: Jill is a Baby Boomer and Mark is a Generation Y-er. The two of them have just come out of a meeting with the boss in which the boss asked them to remake a project which had taken hours to create. Mark says, “I can’t believe how he asked us to re-do the work! It was just flat out mean! He did not even acknowledge that we had done all that work already. If he had only acknowledged that, I would be happy to try again.” Jill answers, baffled, “Why does that make any difference? We still have to re-do the work. What, were your FEELINGS hurt?”
Here Jill is coming from the perspective that the workplace does not hold space for emotions, while Mark, the younger of the two, sees emotional well-being as every bit as important as the money made.
Inter-generational workplace relations can be overlooked. Thankfully, some people who are focused on providing health and wellness services facilitate workplace training and awareness around this issue. UNC Charlotte does a training like this, as well. For help or questions regarding the corporate culture of generations, please contact us.