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Speaking For Generations

Each generation is shaped by their common geography, the economic and political events of their time, technology and the parenting style with which they were raised.

Friction between generations arises when behavioral habits and preferences clash. And no two generations clash more than boomers and millennials, according to Curt Steinhorst of the Center for Generational Kinetics (GenHQ).

  • “On time” for a boomer means 10 minutes early. For millennials, 10 minutes late still counts as punctual.
  • Boomers aren’t shy about scheduling in-person meetings to share ideas or information and view the long, explanatory paragraphs in their emails as good communication. Millennials, with their technology dependency, prefer to text important information. Raised as visual learners, millennials use videos and images to share ideas or information.
  • Boomers, like traditionalists, consider adulthood to begin in the early 20s. Millennials consider age 30 the start of adulthood.

“When your new 27-year-old hire shows up for his first job, you may expect him to be as mature and experienced as you were,” said Steinhorst, a millennial whose company does generational research. “But guess what? He may be more like a mid-teen,” when compared to earlier generations of workers. Rather than see differences as points of frustration and aggravation, Steinhorst urges generations to look for the strengths that come from a diverse workforce.

Motivation. Boomers live to work. Millennials work to live. Understanding this difference is critical to an employer or business owner interested in retaining good employees. While the boomer generation is loyal to their companies and jobs, millennials are loyal to causes and to individual leaders who earn their trust and respect. Millennials are okay with taking a pay cut to do work they believe in. The purpose or mission of an organization is key to winning them over.

Work-Life Balance. A flexibility study by WorkplaceTrencs.com found that three quarters of employees value workplace flexibility as their top benefit. For millennials, pay is less meaningful than flexibility in their hours and the location of work.

Innovation. In the workplace, millennials tend to disrupt the status quo, which is essential for innovation. They also are the best educated generation in U.S. history. The “doer” side of the generation knows it’s not really the job of the older generations to always cater to their needs. Make them feel valued, challenged and included and they will strive to make a difference on the job – to solve problems with innovative solutions.

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