Today, Gen. Y is the fastest-growing segment of the workforce, expanding from 14% of the workforce in 2004 to 21% today, or nearly 32 million workers.
Applicant pools are larger today than ever before as more people pursue higher levels of education and are therefore better qualified for professional careers. However, due to technological advances (particularly in medicine), baby boomers are living (healthily) much longer. That means the workforce is packed with individuals from different walks of life, all striving for gradual advancement and stability.
Digital technology is changing not only the way we receive information, but also how we create. With Millennials having the “home-team advantage,” having grown up with technology, generational discord may become a problem. However, a team that successfully and respectfully meshes can reap great rewards.
Statistics show that, today:
- More than 60% of employers say they are experiencing tension between employees from different generations.
- More than 70% of older employees are dismissive of younger workers’ abilities.
- Nearly half of employers say that younger employees are dismissive of the abilities of their older co-workers.
Research study “Intelligent Dialogue: Millennials” says that “These digital natives grew up using digital technology, and they’re often acting as guides for digital immigrants – people who entered the digital world as adults. Digital immigrants like their information delivered in a linear, logical sequence, but digital natives prefer random access to hyperlinked information.”
This information says a lot about where professionals from each generation are coming from and what you can expect them to bring to the work table. Don’t forget that Millennials grew up in the decade when Time magazine named the computer its Person of the Year. This era has been marked with digital technology breakthroughs that have became mainstream as Blackberries, iPhones, iPods and digital cameras have all become an important part of everyday life.
Ultimately, the goal for any staff is to achieve balance in roles and responsibilities. What I have personally experienced is that teams are most successful when a synergy happens between priceless wisdom, experience, fresh creative energy, ideas and invincibility. Everyone is also much happier in the process. When this fails to happen, generational clashes – direct and indirect – can and do often occur. To not capitalize on the strengths of a multi-generational (or even multi-ethnic/gender for that matter) staff is to cheat your organization out of the best production possible.
Some advice to consider:
“Older managers should not be afraid to show a more affable side to their employees. This will allow their young talent to be comfortable in contributing to the team from the very beginning. A younger employee who can feel a certain sense of comfort around his or her older managers is happier and ultimately more productive, while still respecting the manager’s position and authority.”
- Keya Rahnemoon, Intern, State University of New York – Binghamton, “Intelligent Dialogue: Millennials.”
“They [Millennials] combine the teamwork ethic of the Boomers with the can-do attitude of the Veterans and the technological savvy of the X-ers. At first glance, and even at second glance, [Millennials] may be the ideal workforce – and ideal citizens.”
- Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, and Bob Filipczak from “Generations at Work.”
Posted by Samantha Sims