If we look around us, we see a worldof humans who are different from one another. We see that we are living in avery cultural diverse planet. And today, the United States is much more diversethan ever, whether it’s at school, at work, or even just walking on the streetto get to the supermarket. In America, we see that businesses observe differentways to constantly grow by hiring people of different ages, gender, ethnicity,and disability. All of this with the sole purpose to immerse itself in theworld that we live in today.
Companies encourage diversity to generate businessthat will successfully reach out to their customers. However, what mostcompanies struggle to understand due to the topic being very influential, yetcontroversial, is the generational gap between employees within the workplace. Inthe workplace today, we can find three different generations: Baby Boomers,Generation X, and Generation Y (also known as Millennials). And with the threearticles that were analyzed during this review, we observe the different workethics and managerial strategies of each generation. WritersJohn Becton, Harvell Walker, and Allison Jones-Farmer have outlined, innumerical data, the differences between the three generations that are a partof today’s workforce. They began the study with an understanding based onsurveys that each of these three generations have a different perspective onthe following areas: job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and overalljob expectations.
These perspectives generally come from how each generationwas raised and molded into the society of their time. What they found, was thatBaby Boomers are often described as achievement oriented, independent, incontrol of their own destinies, respectful of authority, loyal and attached toorganizations, and diligent on the job (Becton, Walker, & Jones-Farmer,2014). In my view, Baby Boomers were raised in families that experienced unprecedentedeconomic prosperity, secure jobs, and optimism about the future. So, I believethat the way they were raised by the previous generation is a factor as to whythey are being described the way they are in the workplace. Generation X, asopposed to Baby Boomers, are defined by life experiences such as the age ofeconomic uncertainty, recessions, high unemployment, inflation, downsizing, andhigh divorce rates among their parents (Becton, Walker, & Jones-Farmer,2014). The individuals who were raised during the X generation lived withdual-career families whose parents were focused too much on their work.
Generation”Xers” want economic security as much as Baby Boomers, but they have a differentapproach to achieving it. Rather than focusing on job security, many of theseGeneration Xers focus on career security instead and they would be willing tochange jobs to find it. Today, many of these Generation Xers are now managers andthey are responsible for motivating other employees in their organization. Whenthe X generation was young, they were raised and taught to be well-equipped tomotivate people by understanding that there is more to life than work, and theythink that a big part of motivating is letting people know you can recognize thatfact.
Millennials come from an age that is driven by technology. Millennialswere born into technology. They are the first “high-tech” generation, havingnever known life before cell phones, personal computers, and ATMs werecommonplace (Becton, Walker, & Jones-Farmer, 2014). The article written byBecton, Walker, and Jones-Farmer should’ve looked at the why and how thesegenerations came to be the way they are. We must exert a better understandingbased on how much different, in proof, that the generations are working todaydiffer from one another.
To observe the manner in a better perspective, thestudy extended its research onto the effects of generational differences in theworkplace by investigating actual employee behaviors. While the results didindicate some generational differences in workplace behavior exist, the effectsize for these relationships was very small. This article concluded with thatthe fact that they would advise organizations from exerting much effort toredesign practices and policies to more effectively manage workers fromdifferent generations (Becton, Walker, & Jones-Farmer). Organizationsshould keep steady in terms of rolling out new and traditional best practicesto ensure that the business is progressing regardless of which generation isworking at that company.
However, what organizations do need to understand is thatthe world isn’t getting any younger. They must plan for how to effectivelyrecruit, attract, and manage the younger generations. Howwe can learn to manage the younger generation, we look at the current andfuture trends of multiple generations at work. Paul Roodin and Maeona Mendelsonhave discussed the fact that it’s true that companies today have a good numberof generations working with each other and they all have different philosophiesin terms of how they want their careers to turn out for the short-term and thelong-term. For example, regarding older workers in the workforce, they welcomethe chance to be productive, derive social support from longtime colleagues,are intellectually challenged, and have opportunities for both physicalactivity and exercise (Roodin & Mendelson, 2013).
With that concept, the olderworkers in the workforce also tend to stay longer on the job and they look to postponeretirement so that they can work for as long as they can. This is partiallyfrom the fact that the older generation is labeled as workaholics who work morethan 40 hours a week just because they want to and, in fact, enjoy it. In myview, this article seems to focus more on gender differences and age, but moreon the age difference. While this makes sense because the entire focus is onthe different generations in the workplace, but I believe that disabilityshould be put ahead of the two categories in this study.
Disability plays ahuge factor when it comes to who is working at so and so company, no matter howold or young that individual is. With more and more disabilities entering theworkforce today, we must understand that there are laws that accommodate theneeds of those disabled employees. For example, the ADA law helps preventdisabled individuals from being discriminated against by anyone and anywhere. Thislaw was first passed in 1990, so the Millennials in the workforce are the firstto enact it in full force.
Over time, they found out how they could be preventedfrom being discriminated against potential employers or current employers. Thislaw, along with the generational gap, has been a game changer in the workplacewhere there are old generations who must follow the law to comply with theneeds and wants of the younger generations or else they will face consequences. Witholder generations working and managing alongside the younger generation in theworkplace, we consider how organizational leaders utilize their strategicalmethods to effectively manage a multi-generational workforce. Ahmed Al-Asfourand Larry Lettau conducted a thorough analysis of how each generation presentsits leadership style and how they manage the younger generation(s).
Eachgeneration has its own unique values and views that are associated with the erain which they were raised. The differences are apparent in the literaturediscussed in this article and often lead to clashes between employees, managers,and leaders. What some leaders might view as inappropriate, employees, dependingon their generation, might view as appropriate. Therefore, leaders need tounderstand the best way of leading people based on their generation and otherdiversity factors (Al-Asfour & Lettau, 2014).
This point is generallysupported by many individuals because of the possibility of leaders being ableto adapt for who is working under them within the organization. A great leaderlearns how to effectively manage their employees by knowing how to provide whatthat employee needs to be able to successful. However, there are leaders outthere who do neglect their employees and “set them up to fail” just because ofwho they are as a person.
And those leaders are not true leaders and they aresimply in the position they are in because of the amount of experience theyhave. I believe that if an employee has failed in his/her role, then that blameis put on the manager because of the lack of support and guidance. Asidefrom managers enabling their employees for success, it is important formanagers of all ages to be aware that employees of different generationscommunicate differently. The traditionalist, the generation that lived throughthe Great Depression and World War II, prefer to communicate face-to-face. Andtheir second choice is by phone, but recordings often frustrate them.
BabyBoomers generally prefer to communicate in meetings or conference calls.Generation X generally prefer email communication and will choose meetings onlyif there are no other options. Millennials most often use technology tocommunicate, particularly through social media. As Millennials assume moreresponsibilities in the workplace, they sometimes must manage and lead othersfar older than themselves. So, how can young managers lead others who may havemore experience than they do? Perhaps the three most important things to keepin mind are to be confident, be open-minded, and solicit feedback regularly. Communicationis key.
Millennials should remember that asking for input and advice is differentfrom asking for permission or guidance. As the next generation, Generation Z,enters the workplace, they are likely to be more cautious and security-minded,but inspired to improve the world since they’ve seen the effects of the economyfirsthand. We can conclude that one thing in business that is likely to remainconstant: much of the motivation will come from the job itself rather than fromexternal punishment or rewards. Managers of all ages need to give employeeswhat they require doing a good job: the right tools, the right information, andthe right amount of cooperation.
Motivation does not have to be difficult. Itbegins with acknowledging a job well done – especially doing so in front ofothers.