Generations in the Workplace

The goal of the page is to share takeaways from articles about one or more of the generations in our workforce. Check back often as we will be adding to this page as new articles are reviewed.


Here comes Gen Z


Jayne Mattson Senior Vice President Keystone Associates interviewed by Ladan Nikravan, Senior Editor, Chief Learning Officer


LN: How is this generation different?


JM: They are different in two ways. First, this generation is a little more free-spirited; they are independent thinkers. Companies need to recognize they will be wanting to make their own decisions or at the very least they will want to be part of the decision process. Leadership needs to help make the process of making decisions more inclusive.


They are also different in the area of technology. They were brought up much more to use technology as a main focus of how they communicate. Leadership needs to consider this when onboarding, conducting meetings, and project development.


However, because they use technology as a way to communicate, their interpersonal skills are a challenge. Because they are immersed in technology, social skills doesn’t come as easily to them. For leaders it means helping them understand how to use social skills as a way to engage in conversation, resolve conflict, and how to be influenced. These are important soft skills you can help them develop.


LN: How are learning and development needs different and what do they want?


JM: Learning is a better way to say it versus training. Training is the old school term we use to determine how we acclimate employees to the workforce. Learning is something this generation is going to adapt to. It’s the language we use. The language we use will help them understand they are going to learn something


Leaders need to connect their learning to a bigger cause and tell them the wiifm (What’s in it for me).


It is equally important when developing learning to keep in mind what am I going to develop and why am I developing it. It is important to offer different forms/options of ways to learn. For example, webinars so they can join in and communicate with group, mobile apps so they can learn asynchronously, and give them face-to-face learning as an options as well.


LN: Do they value learning? Do they want it? Do they see it as a benefit?


JM: They do, because they want to make an impact; however, it has to be tied to something. Leaders have to figure out what they want, what will they embrace for individualism and how can we help them get there.

Click here to view interview (5:36).


Survey Says: Millennials Have Soft Skills


According to a 2014 SkillSurvey Inc. survey, after examining feedback on thousands of job applicants for entry-level positions in industries like nursing, engineering, finance and customer service, Millennials (Gen Y) consistently have high rating on soft skill values such as trustworthiness, respect for diversity, ethics and integrity.


Do not confuse these softskills with personality traits which are innate and cannot be taught. Takeaway for hiring managers – communicate exactly what is expected in the job. Conversely, Millennials who are often criticized for not being invested in the job, should prove their bosses wrong; ask questions, volunteer new ideas, follow up.

Click here to view the article.


How should today’s leaders behave?


Most leaders employ four generations, Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y (Millennials), and if they aren’t, chances are, they soon will be. In the “The Global Report: Leadership Traits, Insights for Today, Pathway to the Future” published in May 2015, the different generations verbalize professional behaviors they want their leaders to exhibit over the next 10 years. The study analyzed 2,800 professionals in 122 counties.


Interestingly, all chose forward-thinking and inspiring as important leadership traits. Below are specifics about what each generation identified as additional important leadership traits.


Gen Y: Soon to surpass Baby Boomers as the largest segment of the workforce, believe leaders need to develop capabilities of their workforce in a “fair and conscious manner, be authentic, inspiring, and innovative.” Leaders have to assume the role of “leader coach to develop teams and individuals.”


Gen X: They believe facilitating positive change in their organization as the workforce evolves is a must and see important leadership traits to be leaders who embrace “diversity, globalization, changing organizational structures and shifting capabilities.”


Baby Boomers: Currently the largest segment of the workforce, they believe leaders need to be “collaborative, lead people interdependently, promote knowledge and innovation.” This generation view the future of leadership as more team orientated.


Traditionalists: The youngest who are in their early 70s, have seen huge shifts in organizational culture. This generation wholeheartedly agrees their leaders need to emphasize building relationships and identify ethical behavior, responsibility, a consciousness about leading people, passion and patience as desirable leadership traits.


It would benefit current leaders to remember their workforce identifies behavior and performance as needed for success. Understanding what the workforce wants is the first step in “transitioning development from primarily one-size-fits-all… to individualized development aligned to specific needs.” This will assist leaders in defining leadership development strategy, reward systems and succession planning for example.

Click here to view the full article.


How to sift through generational data


Cam Marston, president Generational Insights interviewed by Ladan Nikravan, Senior Editor, Chief Learning Officer


LN: How do you keep all generations happy?


CM: Managing everyone, treating everyone, training everyone the same way, those behaviors are behind us… learning styles, learning needs and engagement needs. We can no longer say this is the only way we do it.


Most effective leaders have to recognize, we have different constituent base and have to deliver training in many different ways; leaders have to vary it up.

Click here to view interview (3:50).


Understanding generational differences: The keys to attracting, motivating and retaining your workforce


One size does not fit all. Managers must be relative and respectful. A generation is connected by historical locations and shared life events, culture has an important impact.


The key to good working relationships with your team members is to “step outside your generational box and into the shoes of another generation” (Vining, 2011, p. 3).


The original Golden Rule is treat people the way you want to be treated. The new Golden Rule Plus is treat people the way THEY want to be treated.


Training/Learning implications for three generations:


Baby Boomers thrive in a classroom setting, measuring success in terms of audience participation and prefer an instructor style that is well received by senior management.


Gen Xers are self taught and prefer to be alone to learn. They are data driven and expect clear expectations, tracked results and measure success by certifications.


Gen Y/Millennials like to work in a team setting because they learn best in groups. They seek/need internal and external rewards.

Click here to view the article.


You’re probably wrong about Millennials


Millennials often view their manager favorably because they are wise and willing to mentor. However, managers feel millennials are easily distracted, have unrealistic salary expectations and have a poor work ethic (Schawbel, 2013).


How can those who manager millennials get past these feelings? Reframe the generational misconceptions.


Millennials aren’t entitled but want to make a big impact, connect with leadership and engage in professional development opportunities.


Although millennials tend to change companies every two years, it is because managers haven’t provided the feedback millennials need, shared job opportunities or allowed for job shadowing.

Click here to view the article.


How to give Gen Y the learning they want


A survey of 1,000 students who graduated college between 2011-2013 shows a disparity between expectations of Gen Ys/Millennials and their employers in the area of learning and development.


Millennials feel that because they will not have specialized skill upon graduating, their first manager should provide extensive on the job training; however, most organizations are offering less training compared to the past and are looking for those they hire to have specific skills coming into the job.


Gen Ys will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020 (Klobucher, 2013, p. 33) so you are probably already employing this generation. Because Millennials do not like learning in a classroom situation and prefer to learn with others, assign them meaningful projects where they can continuously learn.

Click here to view the article.


OPM releases data on Millennials in federal workforce


Among the key findings among millennials, based on the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) data:

  • Make up just 16 percent of the total workforce today.
  • 80% said they can see how their work relates to their agency’s goals and priorities.
  • 61% are satisfied with their jobs.
  • 83% said their supervisors treat them with respect, slightly higher rate than the government-wide 80 percent.
  • 66% of millennials said their supervisors support employee development, three percentage points higher than the government-wide score of 63 percent.
  • One in three (1 in 3) millennials said that creativity and innovation are rewarded in their organization
  • Only 34% are satisfied with the opportunities they have for career advancement.


US Office of Personnel Management. (2014). Millennials finding opportunity in Federal Service.

Click here to view the article.


How to engage each generation in the workplace


Over the last ten years we experienced significant changes to the workforce. The Traditionalists, who we thought would retire, are still in the workforce and are joined by the Millennials, who approach working and learning differently. When coaching, one size doesn’t fit all and the addition of a generation means our coaching style may have to be revised when engaging with Millennials. “Each generation has distinct attitudes, behaviors, expectations, habits and motivational buttons” (Hammill, 2005, n.p.). The article highlights some of the values of each generation which are currently in our workforce as well as provides suggestions for how to coach or be coached by each generation.

Click here to view the article.


Generations in the Workplace


For the first time in history, four generations are simultaneously in the workforce. The following short presentation (Flash) will introduce the newest of these generations, the Millennials and discuss how to engage, communicate and mentor to maximize productivity.


Multigenerational Workforce


It is absolutely unrealistic to think that in 2015, one size fits all.  For the first time in history, we have four generations working side by side.  With that comes frustration, challenges, a lack of understanding and willingness to be open to learn about what we don’t know.


For the first time in history, we have four generations working side by side, as traditionalists retire and Gen Z/Gen 2020 enter the workforce. With that comes frustration, challenges, a lack of understanding and willingness to be open to learn about what we don’t know.


This paper is a brief introduction into the fascinating topic of engaging a multi-generational workforce, learning about each other and discovering ways to create the new “learning culture” of Family and MWR.  By being open to change, all generations can exchange ideas and perhaps, by meshing the cultures, we can ultimately evolve into a modern day, technologically savvy, professional workforce.

Click here to view the article.

Comments are closed.