The recruitment of human resources usually implies the entry of a new generation into the workplace and leaving of the older one. Many organizations’ workers fall into different age groups. The current workplace environment has four generations working hand in hand; they are Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. The various age groups have different work ethics and values that the management must learn to deal with. The manner in which employees work together nowadays is more critical than ever for the success of the organization.
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The current issues facing organizations are no longer the effects of competition, stress, or greed but the collision of the four generations. Each generation brings with it different values, ideas, communication styles, and, the most important, technological diversity. The diversity has brought with it changes in the way of engaging with each other at the workplace. Traditionally, the boss was treated by the younger workers in one way, and the older workers — in the other way. The roles, today, are changing, and the rules have to be re-written again.
The first generation comprises of the Veterans who were born between 1922 and 1945. They are characterized by hard work, loyalty, and respect for authority; also, they strictly observe rules, regulations, and procedures. The second generation is comprised of the Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964. They are workaholics and work with colleagues in decision-making. Generation X are the people born between 1965 and 1980. They prefer structured workplaces and encourage peers to make decisions. The generation Y representatives were born between 1981 and 2000; they are the most techno-savvy and enjoy working with others looking for a better future.
Generational differences affect every aspect of the company including recruitment, productivity, management, change management, and team building. The employment dynamics can find a young lady of less than 30 years of age, fresh from college being the manager and much older person being just an employee. Given the age differences, the young manager may find it hard to communicate with the Veterans in a respectful and understandable way. The traditional opinion that the subordinate is always younger than the manager is no longer the case. Given that people communicate based on the generational background, the communication between the different generations can be strained leading to high employee turnover, difficulties in gaining employee commitment, and the ability to attract and retain the right candidates. The management and individual workers must learn how to communicate and understand the differences between the age groups to reduce misunderstanding and confrontations at the workplace.
Many employees find it hard to get things done because of generation gaps, with reports of being offended by someone from the another generation. Companies must, therefore, find ways of bridging the gaps between the various generations through education and team building activities. Diversity programs have all along been used to deal with gender, sexual orientation, and racism problems. Special programs can also be used to address age diversity issues and promote coexistence of the multiple generations.
Businesses must develop ways and means of addressing the differences to motivate the cohesive working of the four generations. The methods of communication between the generations should be adjusted to permit easy and non-offensive means of communication. The older generations mentoring the young ones comes appear to be effective in closing the gaps between the different groups and earn mutual respect. Companies should also devise motivational programs that fit each age group to improve retention of employees. The management should encourage each generation to find their place in the organization in order to feel good and contribute to the business. The management has the responsibility of assisting employees to understand diversity and learn how to respect each other and work together.
The article was primarly written by Allie Hopkins for Exclusive Paper. Check out also the article about do ho suh karma 2003.