VOICE December 2015 - page 6

If you stop and think about it, we currently have five gen-
erations of people in our workforce. The needs and aspi-
rations of each generation differ significantly, and with
development of both technology and learning over the
past 20 years, a hierarchical structure based on age is no
longer always relevant or practical. It is now common
practice to have managers managing individuals older
than they are. So what does this mean for us and how do
we engage everyone?
The five generations are:
iGen, aka Generation Z: born 1996 and after
Millennials, aka Generation Y: born 1977 to 1995
Generation X: born 1965 to 1976
Baby Boomers: born 1946 to 1964
Traditionalists/Matures: born 1945 and before
The ‘Matures’, are comfortable with hierarchy and are
influenced by the traditional military model. They gener-
ally expect to be in one job for the majority of their work-
ing life and expect that success leads to a promotion.
The ‘Baby Boomers’ are known for being workaholics
and still retain the idea that hierarchy is the norm. Alt-
hough they may both love it and hate it, they still work to
authority. They hold high ethical values, working for the
family and being part of a team.
Generation X are those members of our workforce who
were the first generation where both their parents were
likely to have worked. They tend to have loyalty to peo-
ple rather than the organisation. They are more comfort-
able with change and regard success more in terms of
lifestyle than getting that next promotion.
Millennials often referred to as Generation Y’s are the
first generation that has grown up with technology
around them from an early age. Everything is personal-
ised to them, from their mobile devices to their learning.
They are often great networkers with a highly developed
set of values that they can express. They also often work
to fund their hobbies, rather than to get promotion.
iGens or Generations Zs have started to enter the work-
force over the past two to three years. They are the first
generation to grow up in an era of the smartphone and
likely do not remember a time before social media. They
have the means to receive and distribute information
instantly and this somewhat unlimited access means they
are very aware of living in a time of global conflict. The
effect of this is a generation who are fast-paced, hard-
working, conscientious but also a little anxious and mind-
ful of the future.
So what does having five generations in the workforce
mean for business? Businesses need all these genera-
tions. Our jobs as managers is to ensure we engage all the
generations within our organisations and gain the maxi-
mum potential out of each and every person we employ.
So how can this be done?
1. Know the Individual
The information about each generation, detailed above, is
useful to know, but shouldn’t be used as an iron-cast
mould for every individual. The people you manage are
just that – individuals. And they should be treated as
such. Good managers take the time to get to know each
member of their team. They don’t assume, for example,
that Baby Boomers struggle with technology or that
young Millennials lack the experiential skills to become
great leaders.
Taking the time to get to know people individually will
also help you appreciate how their generational position
affects their priorities; for example, younger generations
who are perhaps less likely to have responsibilities and
dependants outside of work will value the opportunity to
receive training because they are excited at the prospect
of new experiences. Older generations, such as the Tradi-
tionalists or older Baby Boomers are more likely to
Engaging All Generations
By Karen Frost and Stephanie Small
Taking the time to get to know people
individually will also help you
appreciate how their generational
position affects their priorities.”
These programmes can really help to
extend a variety of skills throughout
your organisation by allowing
generational knowledge to be accessed
by each employee.”
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