Note: This series is based on the paper My Generation.
The makeup of formal – and informal - organizations has always mirrored that of society as a whole. As societal demographics shift, organizations have no choice but to consume the transformation. A “failure to respond to the demographic changes of society will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the modern organization to meet employee needs and productively move forward.” This will leave the organization unprepared to compete – for talent or in the marketplace - eventually leading to its demise. We are confident that businesses will react to societal changes, but are advocating that leaders be more proactive in addressing generational diversity.
According to Jamie Notter from Notter Consulting, a firm focused on diversity issues, “discussions of workplace diversity in the United States tend to start with the topics of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.”
“Another slice that is not always included in typical diversity discussions, however, is generational diversity. In any large organization, you are bound to find groups where at least four distinct generations are working side by side. Sociologists, psychologists, and everyday managers have identified important differences between these generations in the way they approach work, work/life balance, employee loyalty, authority, and other important issues.”
Companies often view generational differences as inevitable, unavoidable, and abstract; but research shows that in the 21st century, companies that proactively address these issues will be more successful than those that do not. They will leverage the significant shift in societal demographics to build better and more relevant products, create more attractive work environments, and recruit better talent – leading directly to customer satisfaction, and then to shareholder satisfaction.
Before generational differences can be adequately addressed it is important to have a high-level understanding of the four generations that share our workplace; Generation Y, Generation X, Boomers and Veterans.
“Armed with an improved knowledge of the motivators and disincentives that drive its employees, an organization is more likely to develop the recruitment and retention strategies that others only dream about.”
The same can be said about engagement strategies.