Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Assumptions, issues and challenges in today's workplace.

Post 485 - "Our youth now love luxury, they have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for their elders, and they love to chatter instead of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers." Sound familiar? This however was written by Socrates in 440 B.C.

I hear and read lots of complaints about the skills and drive of today's younger workers. However, during a recent day-long visit to the aircraft carrier, Ronald Regan, I was extremely impressed by the energy, dedication and achievement of it's 6,000 sailors, most of whom are under 20 years of age. So I thought I'd spend the week writing about the younger generation and comparing it with my own generation and those in between.

Today's American workforce is more complicated and diverse than ever before. Four generations with different values and character-shaping experiences are being asked to coexist and cooperate together. They are:

• Traditionalists:
- Born 1928 - 1945.
- Teen years 1942 - 1963.
- Raised with homogeneous families and neighbors.
- Are respectful of authority.
- Hierarchical.
- Loyal to institutions.
- Rule makers and conformists.
- Motivated by financial rewards and security.

• Boomers:
- Born 1946 - 1965.
- Teen years 1960 - 1982.
- Children of causes and revolutions.
- Anti-authoritarian.
- Idealistic.
- Motivated to change the world.
- Competitive.

• Generation X:
- Born 1965 - 1976.
- Teen years 1980 - 1998.
- A diverse group of "friends."
- Self reliant.
- Anti-institution.
- Rule morphing.
- Tribal.
- Information-rich.

• Generation Y - Millennials:
- Born 1980 - 2000.
- Teen years 1994 - 2018.
- Largest consumer group in the history of the US, 70-million plus.
- Upbeat and determined.
- Confident and full of self-esteem.
- Pro-education and goal-oriented.
- Socially conscious and highly tolerant.
- Family-centric - parents are role models and heroes.
- Plugged-in and parallel thinkers.
- Work is one of multiple priorities.

Young workers seem to want it all — a sizable salary, generous vacation time, flextime or shorter work weeks, and it’d be nice for a prospective employer to have an on-site doctor, or install laundry machines in the office - for the sake of work-life balance! Twenty years ago, work-life balance was hardly considered. Employees lived to work, not worked to live. Today, all that’s changed.....

More tomorrow,

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