The New Generation Gap

Published: Jul 23, 2007

Much is made about generational differences in today's workplace. We've always had a generation gap, but due to changing times and demographics, we can now have four generations working side-by-side. Each generation has different ideas and perspectives about work, with varying attitudes crafted from the era in which they grew up, differing life experiences, and what point in life they are today. Each expresses unique attitudes, expectations, needs and motivational buttons. Our oldest and most experienced workers have sacrificed their whole lives. They are dependable and loyal to their employers. Many are working past retirement in full- and part-time jobs. Baby boomers, because of their great numbers, have competed with each other for jobs during their entire working careers. They're accustomed to working long hours, and are committed to achieving career goals. They value loyalty, and identify closely with their chosen careers. The younger generation X is independent and technologically savvy. They watched their parents lose jobs in corporate downsizing, so are skeptical and distrustful of the corporate world. They tend to value work-life balance as much as their careers. They're committed to self-development, but don't hesitate to leave their work behind at day's end. Generation X doesn't expect loyalty from their employer, and likewise, usually won't make long-term employment commitments. Generation Y is just entering the workforce. They too are extremely adept with computers, the Internet, cell phones, and e-mail, and are comfortable with the latest technologies. They tend to be confident and have high self-esteem, but sometimes have an over-inflated sense of value in relation to their actual work experience. They enter the workforce with expectations of contributing immediately, and expect to change jobs and careers frequently.

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