To effectively deal with the four generations of employees and customers, we first need to get to know them.
Matures – born before 1946
These people could be your parents, grandparents or even your great-grandparents. They tend to be task oriented. Matures believe in rules of conduct and respect for authority. When they were young, they did not question; they simply did as they were told. Society was characterized by a militaristic, top-down structure. After all, many matures grew up during World War II or the Korean War. Members of this generation, for the most part, want conformity and rules.
There has always been inter-generational conflict. Members of the next generation (Baby Boomers) probably approached Matures with “You know, maybe there is a better way to do things.” Matures likely responded with, “No! This is the way has always been done. And it always will be done this way!”
Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964
Most members of the next generation of employees desire meaningful work, and to have a bottom-line impact on the success of the organization. But they also want praise, recognition and appreciation for their extra hours and hard work, as well as the resulting financial rewards that accompany them. Boomers live to work.
In general, this generation is probably the most materialistic of the four. The attendees of my workshops theorize as to why the generations act the way that they do. One attendee speculated that Baby Boomers are so materialistic because many of their parents, who were Matures, struggled financially while they were growing up. Therefore, Matures instructed their Baby Boomer sons and daughters, “We don’t want you to deal with the hard times that we had to endure. Go make something of yourselves!” So Boomers did.
Generation Y – born between 1965 and 1980
Many of my attendees who are Gen Y feel like they are the forgotten generation. “Everybody seems to talk about Baby Boomers and Millennials,” they say. “Nobody seems to ever mention us.”
Like the Baby Boomers, most of Generation Y wants meaningful work. But with that desire comes an important caveat: they also desire a healthy work-life balance. They want relaxed dress codes, flexible leave policies and a freedom to do their job. Finally, they want a boss who is sensitive to their need for work flexibility and family values.
Millennials – born between 1981 and 1995
The next group is currently the largest generation in the workforce. Millennials (or Generation Y), for the most part, want to participate on a variety of substantial, important projects, which will allow them to learn and use new skills, especially their technical skills.
Millennials desire work that is personally rewarding. Because, unlike Baby Boomers who live to work, Millennials only work to live. They believe in Y.O.L.O. – you only live once – so you need to experience all that life has to offer, especially outside the job.
This generation likely wants a boss who is more like a coach or mentor; they dislike bosses who are formal or hierarchical.
Some interesting facts about Millennials …
What percent of today’s adults are currently married with children compared to Baby Boomers of the same age?
- Baby Boomers – 50%
- Millennials – 12%
What percent of Millennials expect to stay on the job for less than three years?
- 91% – which will translate into 15 to 20 jobs over their working lives
Where do Millennials want to live?
- 41% say in or near the cities
The key to success in dealing with each of these four different generations is the platinum rule – do onto others the way that they would like to be done unto.