I’ve been reading a series of articles on workplace generation gaps and I’m really wondering if there really is one or it’s more about individuality.
I’ll have to admit talking with my recently graduated from high school nephew about the workplace concerned me about the type of employee he would be, but he did bring up some points that were similar to the comments in the articles.
My nephew had a real concern for people being able to express themselves and how they did it but I think that’s a concern every generation has had. Expression may be in a different format for each of the generations but the ability to address issues, express concerns and the freedom to express individualism in the workplace has always been there. One of the articles identified the typical stereotype of the millennial generation as being lazy, feeling entitled and being self-centered plus a few other negative attributes. The article went on to say all of those were kind of funny because there were some millennials at their workplace who didn’t display those characteristics but were really great workers. They worked hard and were great to be around, not the “I deserve this” type. My niece is opposite her brother. She, a millennial, knows the path put before her and works hard to achieve it, and is concerned, too, about self-expression but not to the extent of her brother.
My issue is I think is more about labels placed on people – baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, Millennial and I think it goes back to people are individuals. Each individual, no matter when they were born, has their own perspective, their own values, their own ideas and their own ways to express themselves. We at CALMC encourage teams and groups to bring all of those things out within the group process because it makes for better problem solving and helps improve the organization both culturally and financially.
Each generation can help the other and when allowed to provide input into the decision-making process, can feel better about others as well as themselves and the organization in which they work.
Employee engagement helps to bring the generations together. One of the articles talked about how a millennial was able to help a baby boomer with technology and a baby boomer was able to provide the millennial with some expertise based on experience and ability.
There is a lot of “self-help” out there for workplaces on dealing with different generations but it comes down to the same things we’ve talked about on these blogs over and over. One of the things millennials have pushed is team work and that’s a great way to bring different generations together. Everyone brings a different perspective, a different skill or talent no matter what the generation group.
Maybe those millennials do expect some things or think they’re entitled but maybe they’re right. Maybe it’s just time to change. At one organization we worked with, the new hires felt they should be entitled to the same vacation time as those who had more senior status. The answer to the new hires you have to wait your turn. But do they or should they? Maybe it’s time to look at the overall vacation schedule. There are people all across different generations who have used vacation time as a negotiating tool for a new job. Sounds to me like that’s a common interest of all generations. Maybe it’s a place to start bringing generations together
The next time you read or hear about generational differences, think about it. Is it really a generational thing or is it just time to look at doing some things differently.
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