By: Keri Luise, Contributing Writer
Four distinct generations are interconnected within today’s workplace and educational environments, and each comes with a unique set of attitudes, values, and work styles.
In a March 30 on-campus talk about generational connections, Bridgeworks’ generational expert and consultant Phil Gwoke presented the generations of our society, the characteristics and ethics of each, and some solutions for engagement and motivation for all generations.
“Every generation, every point in history, every culture since the history of man has had four generations influencing society: grandparents, parents, young adults and children,” Gwoke said.
The general grandparents of this society are the 80 million Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964. The 60 million Gen Xers are the parents born between 1965 and 1979. The Millennials are the over 82 million young adults born between 1980 and 1995. Since then, to the current day are the children of the society: Gen Edge, according to Gwoke.
Gen Edge is the newest generation to enter into the educational and workplace environments. Generations before this are the leaders of companies who need to understand the different kind of work ethics that are being practiced today, said Gwoke.
“We want to communicate with people the way we are communicated with, but as time continues on, people communicate differently,” Gwoke said.
The events and conditions that occur during an individual’s formative years, or their teenage years, shape them into who they are and what they value.
“When you think about work ethic, depending on what generation you’re from, you might have a different perception of what that looks like,” Gwoke said.
According to Gwoke, the Baby Boomer generation consists of optimistic and competitive individuals. They grew up with the mindset that if you don’t do something to get the job done, there is someone next in line who will.
Gen Xers are resourceful, entrepreneurial, and skeptical workers. They grew up very individualistic and tend to follow the motto, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”
The next generation, Millennials, are very diverse, collaborative, socially accepting, and tech-savvy. The number one factor that attracts Millennials to businesses is culture and values. This generation has a strong desire for closeness within relationships.
Finally, there is Gen Edge. Individuals in this generation are realistic, inspirational, and value equality. Within the workplace, these individuals are willing to work harder for well-paid jobs. They prefer group validation and a notice of success rather than just a participation award.
“Most Edgers coming into life, they’re not expecting to be given something just because they showed up,” Gwoke said.
As generations work to learn more about the ethics of one another, companies will be able to create a more compatible, cohesive, and productive workforce for all generations. The generational gap is slowly bridging itself together.