The Silent Generation Meets Generation Y: How to Manage a Four Generation Workforce with Panache – Part 1

Introduction Managing a multi-generational workforce is a challenge that many organizations are facing today.  Shelly Schmocker, Vice President of Global Talent Management at StepStone, says that effective workforce planning strategies will require a shift in thinking from the topic of the “aging workforce” and instead address issues related to the “multi-generational workforce”.  Companies are stepping back and looking more holistically at how to develop programs and deploy technology that will speak to four distinct generations in the workforce.  Each age group requires a different approach when designing career and compensation strategies, performance motivators, and addressing learning styles.  The biggest challenge, however, is how to effectively encourage collaboration among the four different generations of workers (cohorts). Tom Casey, Senior Vice President of BSG Concours, made the following comments to preface further discussion on this topic.  

  • We can no longer think about human capital challenges purely in the context of the aging workforce.
  • We can’t just think about what we can do to make Generation Y (aka millennials) happy in the workforce.

 Instead, we need to answer the following question.  “How do we best manage four active generations of workforce cohorts with differing expectations?”  The answers to this question – and much more – will be revealed in this HCI white paper, based on the Human Capital Institute webcast, The Silent Generation Meets Generation Y – How to Manage a Four Generation Workforce with Panache.   A Chorus of Corporate ConcernsBaby Boomers’ views of Gen Y’s in the workplace include some of the following generalizations: 

  • Gen Y’s don’t have loyalty to the company
  • They have poor communication skills
  • They are impatient and they don’t respect authority
  • They spend too much time online
  • I (Boomer) can’t get them to accept my job.

 Gen Y’s certainly don’t look like “us” (Boomers) and their experience and background’s are vastly different than that of a typical boomer, according to Tom Casey who described himself as a “typical” Boomer.  Casey is 58 years old, has 4 grandchildren, draws two pensions and works 100% (full-time) in the workforce.  His approach to work has been shaped by events and values that are very different than those that influenced Gen Y.  Casey cautions that no matter the role in your company, you will be managing Generation Y workers in the future and the task will be challenging.   Echo of Concerns returnedThere are an equal number of generalized perceptions about Boomers that are held by Gen Y’s: 

  • They are inefficient
  • They don’t respect me
  • They assume that I’m interested in the career path that “they” have chosen for me
  • They are obsessed with face time and have too many meetings
  • They don’t give me (millennial) the latest technology and they don’t use technology effectively

 The real issue that underlies generational stereotypes is that there’s incomplete communication between differing generational groups.  Casey used the analogy of the game “telephone” in describing just how jumbled communication can get between differing generations.  One party speaks into the line and the other party either can’t hear the message or hears it incorrectly.  The breakdown in communication happens in both directions and leaves both parties feeling frustrated. One “War Story” helps to put into context why Gen Y individuals are so different than Boomers.  Casey noted an interesting tactic that some recruiters have used with success in hiring Generation Y workers. Recruiters have discovered what Casey described as the “DaVinci Code” for recruiting Gen Y workers.  Gen Y’s are very family-centric and one way to win them over is to involve their family in the hiring process.  This approach is not without its drawbacks, however.  Some employers are finding that once they’ve involved the family in the recruiting or hiring process, they’ve hired the whole family.  It is not uncommon to hear stories of parents calling employers to find out why their son or daughter got a poor performance review.  Obviously, this is not an experience that many Boomers can relate to; in fact Casey stated that in a poll of Boomers, some 60% felt that they would have been better off without parents at all.  

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5 Responses

  1. […] leaders. For some statistical insight, check out the following graphs taken from the article, “The Silent Generation Meets Generation Y: How to Manage a Four Generation Workforce with Panache,” on the Talent Readiness blog (by fellow BSGers Tom Casey, Tim Donahue, and Eric […]

  2. Very cool post, integrating Gen Y into the workforce is certainly going to be a challenge for lots of companies. Check out my post on a similar topic:

    http://blog.snaptalent.com/?p=13

  3. interesting material, where such topics do you find? I will often go

  4. […] leaders. For some statistical insight, check out the following graphs taken from the article, “The Silent Generation Meets Generation Y: How to Manage a Four Generation Workforce with Panache,” on the Talent Readiness blog (by fellow BSGers Tom Casey, Tim Donahue, and Eric […]

  5. […] The Silent Generation meets Generation Y, Tom Casey, Talent Readiness […]

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