I recently read yet another paper on workforce. However this one had a particular focus on attracting, retaining and developing the “Millennial Professionals”, those who entered the workforce from 2000. There was the usual facts of Baby Boomers versus Generation X versus Generation Y (or “Millennials” in this case) and it got me to thinking as to why this is becoming such a big issue and are we simply reinforcing the divisions that have existed for generations?
The articles I read often outline the case of each generation having differing expectations to the next, and are usually well supported with evidence. But… is this a new concept? NO!!!.
I feel fairly confident that the typical Victorian worker would have had a very dim view of the Baby Boomers’ lack of commitment to their work. Mind you, they did employ children from the age of 4 years so that is hardly surprising I hear you say. My point is: stop and think for moment (particularly those of you in a management role) and ask yourself if this constant comparison of Baby Boomers to other generations is achieving anything productive. So what that Gen X and Ys have a different work/life balance. Is it wrong that they have a sense of self and family? As for skills and abilities, isn’t it a good thing that we have a generation in the workplace that are as comfortable navigating social media as Baby Boomers were in pumping out typed inter office memos? “Watercooler moments” have simply been replaced by SnapChat. Progress is inevitable and necessary if we are to succeed in the world. Yes, each generation after the other has different sense of entitlement or expectation. If we really want to focus on the generational divisions and expectations then surely the question to ask is who parented the current generation and therefore created this sense of entitlement and expectation?
As a CEO, I find it essential to harness the ideas and values of new employees, as well as foster and nurture these as ultimately these people will be running the world I will be living in when I’m old and grey (okay, yes, I am already a bit grey!). So why wouldn’t I want to ensure I get the best out of them now?
Recognise the past folks, just don’t get stuck on comparing the differences constantly.