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While growth projections remain relatively constant, the number of people of “working age” is expected to fall. The average U.S. employee is getting older, and the labor force will continue to age, with the average annual growth rate of the 55-years-and-older group projected to be 1.8 percent (more than three times the rate of growth of the overall labor force). These days, 55-year-olds aren’t necessarily starting to think about retirement. We’re seeing a significant increase in the percentage of people in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s who are continuing to work, both on a full-time and part-time basis.
As far as unemployment, the rate of people over the age of 50 are lower than ever before. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those ages 55 and over is just 3.2 percent. This tendency has led to the rise of a new phenomenon: multiple generations coexisting in the same workforce. A lot of workforces already consist of five generations, but five won’t cut it for much longer. New generations are continually being added—and each generation comes with at least one sub-generation.
With each new generation comes new demands for society, not to mention new expectations for companies and the workforce. In the past, the generational gap used to be so large that one generation would retire, or be on the brink of retirement before the next even entered the workforce. But developments in technology have reduced the gap to around ten years. If there’s one thing people disagree on, it’s when the different generations begin and end. There’s been a lot of conversation about the conflicts that arise in connection with the rise of new generations, and how companies are missing the point entirely, losing out on the advantages of integrating new generations in the workforce.
Due to each generation having different viewpoints and expectations for their work, learning and knowledge sharing, not to mention the culture in their workplace, it can pose a challenge for managers and HR departments who are tasked with attracting, leading, motivating and retaining new generations. Young people refuse to accept the traditional, organizational framework that defines most of the companies out there. They might still be minorities, both as employees and customers, but that doesn’t stop them from bringing up new, unexpected demands and questions. Their bold, vocal approach presents interesting opportunities for innovation in terms of cross-generation partnerships, so it’s imperative to understand all the generations that are working together in the modern-day workforce.
Here are the seven generations that you need to know:
- The Silent Generation (born 1925-1945)
- Generation Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)
- Generation X (born 1965-1980)
- Generation K (born 1977-1987)
- Generation Y aka. Millennials (born 1981-1994)
- Generation Z (born 1995-2000)
- Generation Alpha (born 2000-2015)
What generation to you identify with?
The most recent additions to the workforce are Generation Y and, to some extent, Generation Z. Some experts have taken to calling Generation Y the Burnout Generation. The burnout effect is the result of things like overwhelming workloads, limited control, unfair work, work that doesn’t reflect core values and a lack of community in the workplace. In other words, members of this generation are sick and tired of not living in accordance with their values and not having a community. They find themselves emotionally exhausted and compared to the Baby Boomers; they are more likely to leave a workplace in which they aren’t thriving.
Generation Z is followed by Generation Alpha, which is the most advanced generation we have ever seen. The members of this generation are influential. A British polling organization by the name of OnePoll has carried out a study on behalf of Hotwire, which showed that out of 8,000 parents with kids aged 4-9 surveyed on a worldwide basis, 65% indicated that their kids have a significant influence on the family’s consumption and purchasing decisions. Also, Generation Alpha is expected to live longer than all previous generations.
“Generation Z wants permission to follow their dreams and feel like the masters of their own time, at all times.” – Ryan Harwood, CEO of One37pm (an online news provider)
Many Gen X-ers feel suffocated by the unorganized and uncontrolled way that future generations prefer to work. All there is to say about that is that Generations Y and Z have grown (and are growing) up in a different era with unique conditions. It wouldn’t be out of line to call them Generation Multitasking. We’re talking about generations that have been bombarded with information, constant media buzz, computers, TVs and radios their entire lives. They’re well-equipped to handle any number of distractions, and many of them work best with distractions like heavy metal at top volume.
Unlike the older generations, young people think that knowledge should be shared and allowed to flow freely rather than kept to themselves. They’ve grown up in a world characterized by transparency, where knowledge is something people are happy to share with one another – and something that you get back from your (social) network. The act of sharing knowledge has become more and more important, as the ability to combine specialist and general knowledge across industries and expertise has become a competitive parameter. There is an art to motivating employees from different generations to work together and share their knowledge, encouraging them to take responsibility and make independent decisions in an environment where the answers of today will be outdated by tomorrow. No matter how you look at it, you will end up with a multi-generational workforce or customer base. And if need be, it might make sense to consult an expert on generational issues.
In the workplace, team misunderstandings and conflicts can be so expensive and time-consuming, and the truth is that we don’t have to let all of these tensions, conflicts and disputes get us down. It can become inspiration and innovation for future generations to come.
April 25, 2019 at 05:40PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs