The May/June 2011 edition of IFMA’s Facility Management Journal included a great article on the current generations making up the United States workforce. Although the article’s main focus was workplace diversity and how to motivate each generation toward sustainability, the descriptions of each generation’s strengths and characteristics could be beneficial in understanding how to meet the challenge of integrating these diverse attitudes in any workplace.
Some of the highlights of each generation were:
Traditionalists (born before 1943):
- Oldest, most-experienced workers.
- Over the next 10 years, 2 traditionalists will exit the workforce for every 1 entering it.
- Rule followers with dedicated work ethics.
- Key to engaging them is through their beliefs in values of organization and obedience. They like to be respected and the most important message to relay to them is that their experience is respected which can affect knowledge transfer.
Baby Boomers (born 1943 – 1964):
- Every day, 8,000 – 10,000 boomers turn 60 years of age.
- Most likely to be holders of management position in organizations.
- Family-oriented and generally anti-establishment and anti-government.
- Challenge authority and rebel against convention.
- Key to engaging them is giving them attention and recognition as they are motivated by the message that they are valued and needed.
Generation X (born 1965 – 1977):
- Employees of this generation are spread across all management levels of modern organizations.
- Many have college degrees as much emphasis was placed upon one’s education and career when growing up.
- Believe in value of working hard but only if they get monetary benefit.
- Driven by “what’s in it for me” mentality.
- Most Gen Xers work under the supervision of a baby boomer.
- Lack of organizational loyalty and consistently challenge status quo.
- Self reliant and strong sense of entitlement.
- Value information and are results driven but they want meaningful work.
- Require constant motivation and supervision but would rather receive direction than supervision.
- Key to engaging them is to motivate by appealing to their self-worth and future success and to connect to things they care about.
Generation Y/Millennials (born between 1978 – 1998):
- This generation is at the heart of a skills-deficiency crisis because many critical skill sets are possessed by traditionalists and baby boomers.
- Open to new ideas and experimentation, technologically savvy.
- Currently, usually found in lower management or entry-level jobs.
- Most educated generation and they aspire to globalism.
- Want more from work life and are goal-oriented.
- High morals and more spiritual.
- Strong sense of entitlement and seek responsibility early on.
- Individualistic but group-oriented, they do well in collaborative work environments.
- They respect competence rather than titles and they have no beliefs in “tried and true” career paths or work patterns.
- Expected to be the most high maintenance workforce in the history of the world.
- Key to engaging them is to explain the rationale for the work they do and educate them on the value. They like being mentored and readily accept older leadership.
To deal with this dynamic workforce, we need to understand these generational differences so we can learn how to effectively build strong teams for our organizations.
Written by Bill Conley of CFM2, the article further describes the generations and how to motivate them towards sustainability. It can be read at FMJ Online. Please note that, to read the full article, you must be a member of IFMA.
Related Articles: Millennials – Engaging Them & Maximizing Their Potential, Generation X – Independence, Flexibility & Recognition Are Keys To Motivation, and Mindset of Baby Boomers & How To Effectively Engage Them