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Generation Differences in the Workplace

Is it true age differences play a role in the workforce in how we communicate with others? Research has shown itís actually true. Whether youíre a Mature, a Baby Boomer, Generation X or Millennial, makes a difference in how you react to and deal with people in the workplace.

Millennials were born between the years 1979 to 1988. This generation thrives on being able to recognize and meet their personal goals. In order to effectively supervise a Millennial, it is imperative the supervisor provide immediate and constant feedback. Millennials have the ability to multi-task on many projects. They are extremely computer-literate and appreciate all things technical. While this is a generation of hard workers, they often seek personal fulfillment as opposed to financial security.

The Generation Xís were born between the years 1965 and 1978. Like the Millennial generation, Gen-Xís are also motivated by recognition, mentoring and training. In order for a Gen-X employee to be effective in the workplace, it needs to be a fun environment with a high emphasis placed on team work. To supervise a Generation X employee, it is important to be straight forward and candid. This generation believes in the separation of work and personal lives.

The Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are the largest represented generation in the workforce. Like the other generations, recognition plays a big part in motivating this generation. Like the Millennial generation, Baby Boomers prefer recognition be given sincerely, but frequently. When supervising a Baby Boomer, a caring attitude must be displayed. Baby Boomers prefer to be treated as an equal and not a subordinate.

The Matures were born between the years 1909 and 1945 and brought an entirely different work ethic to the workplace. They had a tendency to remain at their jobs until they retired, unlike the Millennialís or Gen-Xís which tend to be very transient generations and staying in positions for only two to three years. Matures hold a sense of accomplishment for a job well done and exhibit responsibility in every task they perform. To effectively supervise a Mature, listening is imperative. Do not ask a question and then not listen for the answer. Matures prefer directions to be clear and written.

Today is a totally new workforce. The job market is filled with employees from different generations and backgrounds working in the same environment. Employees no longer take jobs with the thought they will stay until they retire. As the workforce slowly transitions toward the Millennial generation, itís important to understand how each generation works best in order to have a productive work unit. As the Matures and Baby Boomers retire, the transfer of knowledge requires that managers and supervisors realize the need for a smooth transition of power. Learning the motivation and work styles of a diverse group of employees will facilitate the change.

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