In the United States, the workforce is comprised of four generations of workings alongside each other. This makes for some special circumstances as they interact. Each has its own kind of worth ethic and job expectations. The Traditionalists (also called Veterans) were born between 1922 and 1945 and there are not many left. More plentiful are Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964. Then comes Generation X or Gen Xers born between 1965 and 1983. There is another group known as the Millennials born between 1984 and 2002, making them the youngest group of cohorts.
Each generation works differently and must be recruited in a different manner. They all have varying motivation and degrees of commitment. If a manager understands this, he or she can maintain better harmony in the company. They get it that people connect themselves to their work roles in contrasting ways and they express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotional according to the way they were raised.
Mangers and business owners want their employees to be engaged and not face burnout. Engagement means that the workers find their jobs to be satisfying and rewarding. The more motivation that can provoke, the more meaningful will be the outcome. Everyone wants more productivity and therefore profit. There is often an issue of employee retention. Employees who understand this will succeed.
As for generational differences, take the Baby Boomers who grew up embracing the idea of entitlement and expecting the best from life. For them leadership and formal authority are synonymous. They experienced the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, Watergate and the sexual revolution. They are less ethically and culturally diverse compared to other generations. But they all seem to have a positive work ethic, especially as related to their strength as team players and mentors. They can be workaholics, self-centered, and judgmental toward those with differing points of view. Although they are of retirement age, they want to work as long as they can.
Next come the Gen Xers who experienced the energy crisis, having single parents, Y2K, corporate downsizing, and the end of the Cold War. They were the first generation of latchkey kids. They tend to be cynical and untrusting, but they are adaptable to change, able to multi-task and work effectively in the face of competition. They have brought about a more informal workplace and they strive hard for a work/life balance more than the Boomers. They want to distance themselves from their jobs on weekends and to have more personal time. Their attitudes toward education, work and money have given them an entrepreneurial spirit and a preference for individuality. They are educated and have high job expectations, but they often lack organizational loyalty. Along with rejected too much authority, they have a distaste for a rigid work environment. They respond well to being given the resources to work independently.
The Millennials are young professionals who grew up in a high-tech world and the effective use of business technology tools comes easily to them compared to their more mature counterparts. They value knowledge, experience, and skill above age. They are defined by digital media, a child-focused world, school shootings, and terrorist attacks, AIDS and 9/11. They are the first generation having grown up with information technology available at all times and more than half have some kind of advanced education. Many also grew up with very scheduled and sheltered lives. Divorce in the family is not uncommon. As a result, they tend to give excessive attention to their own children needing to be involved in every aspect of their lives. Their technological savvy influences their work values and they believe they can work flexibly anytime and anyplace. They feel they should be evaluated on productivity and not how, where, or when they get work done. A better work/life balance is of the essence. While they distrust organizations and hierarchy, they are more loyal to groups and bosses than previous generations.
Such is the composition of the workforce in the United States. Organizations can benefit when they leverage each generation of employees and maximize their potential. When there are employees of different ages, they can share and learn from each other. If you recognize yourself, you can take advantage of this knowledge to get ahead.