Build a Culture for All Generations

Mar 08, 2016

Build a Culture for All Generations

As of 2015, there are 150.8 million employees that belong to either the baby boomer, generation X, or millennial generations, according to the May 2015 article Millennials Surpass Gen Xers as the Largest Generation in U.S. Labor Force, by Richard Fry. With older employees nearing retirement and younger employees entering the workforce, the office environment has to ebb and flow with the needs of each group. To set the proper work culture, it's important to understand the behaviors, emotional intelligence, and expectations of each generation. The melding of age groups can be a successful and productive opportunity for your company if you prepare for it.

The Baby Boomers: Top Dogs of the Office

Members of the baby boomer generation were born between 1946 and 1964, according to the February 2016 article Faces of Change: Engaging the Five Generations in the Workforce, by James C. Price. Many characterize this group as the "me" generation and the career climbers of the 70s and 80s who desire job advancement. Currently, baby boomers range from 52 to 70 years old, and they most likely inhabit senior-level positions or are retiring out of the workplace. This ambitious, hard-working group holds steadfast to the idea of putting in long hours—and extra years—for success. According to Price, baby boomers are uncomfortable with conflict, but they value respect, equality, and credit where it is due, so working in a team will reflect their loyalty to overall success.

Generation X: Work Hard, Play Hard!

According to Price, this generation includes those born between 1965 and 1978, after the Western post–World War II baby boom. They have been described as entrepreneurial, individualistic, and ​adaptable. Aging between 38 and 51 years old, the generation X workforce is settling into mid-level careers and working their way up to the top. According to Price, balancing the typical work and home life is very important to them, so getting in and getting the job done to move on helps keep that vision on track. But this generation also knows when to be flexible to get to the most efficient solution.

The Millennials: New Kids on the Block (at the Office)

This cohort follows the demographic of generation X—Price reports that millennials encompass those who were born between the years 1979 and 1995, though it is not uncommon for those born in the early 2000s to be included in this group. This generation tends to lean on digital literacy and enjoys social interaction, so they work well in teams. According to Fry, millennial employees now make up the largest generational workforce today, even though they range from just 21 to 37 years old. As an ambitious, technologically-driven, and self-confident generation, millennials like the freedom to multi-task and work remotely, and they are focused on results, says Price. Millennials enjoy working in creative, achievement-oriented, and rewarding environments. Having an office where employees can work together toward success is definitely a positive!

The onset of millennials walking into companies today is a hot topic, so preparing for the blending of three generations in one office is absolutely necessary. Rather than showing you how to customize your work culture to meet all of the new millennials' needs, we want you to create an environment that offers success for every generation. Follow along in our newest series, "Generation Gap?," to learn more about each generation's expectations and opinions.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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