Tours Travel

Four generations, one workplace

As business owners and managers, we are always interested in ways to create a better workplace and increase profitability. We have explored the importance of knowing the communication styles of employees and co-workers to better match their skills with specific roles in the workplace. We understand that people have different abilities based on culture, background, and life experiences. As business owners looking to bring out the best in our employees, we strive to learn as much as we can about the people who work for us. Another set of defining characteristics that can be incredibly helpful is the generational circumstances that helped shape the individual.

For the first time in the history of the traditional workplace, we have four generations trying to work together to function as one organization. I don’t think it’s always fair to use generalizations, but if used correctly, a little insight into the work styles and influences of each of the four generations can be helpful in determining what motivates an individual.

In general, there are specific traits, work styles and characteristics that each of the 4 generations exhibits. Let’s take a look at what they are and how we can best harness the talents of each generation.

The Traditionalists (1909-1945)-This generation has seen hard times turn into prosperity. We are seeing fewer of them in the workplace, but many of them who are in the workplace are in prominent positions. Traditionalists are disciplined and still value a sense of loyalty to the company.

The Baby Boomers (1946-1964) – This generation needs little explanation as they still make up the majority of the workforce today. This generation is made up of hard-working and competitive people. They do things. They sometimes expect others to do things the way they do, and they don’t always tolerate others’ work styles.

Generation X (1965-1978): This generation of old latch-key kids is dependable and self-directed. They seek autonomy but still need to be told that they are doing a good job. This generation is known for focusing on their individual career development and sometimes struggles to balance their independence and the goals of the organizations that employ them. They are looking for some fun in the workplace and tend to prefer a more relaxed environment. This generation will never accept “this is how we’ve always done it” as a reason for anything.

Generation Y or Millennials (1979–)-This younger generation of the workforce often gets a bad rap. They are a generation with a certain sense of entitlement. They often come to work expecting to be CEO and have little interest in taking out the trash. However, they have tremendous strengths that make them valuable contributors to the team. They are incredibly tech-savvy. They will make suggestions that can optimize the business. They’re not afraid of change, they’re great at multitasking, and they love being part of a team.

Each generation brings with it unique talents and skills. As a business owner or manager, one of our main goals is to understand the strengths of each employee and capitalize on them. This strategy has always been beneficial for everyone, since an employee who takes advantage of his strengths will be more productive and happy. Being aware of the general characteristics of each generation also gives employers the tools they need to tailor work style to specific tasks. Some of these differences can present frustrations, and when that happens, we need to find ways to understand, work with, and benefit from those differences. Employers can gain valuable problem-solving skills by studying strategies for dealing with these generational differences and evaluating how to achieve desired results. Resources including workshops and specialized training are available to help employers and employees become familiar with these techniques. Examining generational characteristics is just one strategy to gain insight on how to bring out the best in that individual.

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