“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
Today I was asked a few questions about the Manitoba Youth Job Centre program, as well as about the Third Quarter program. The Youth Job Centre program makes summer employment connections for youth and young adults ages 12-29. The Third Quarter program makes job connections for people ages 45 and up. Although at very different stages of life, both sectors are essentially looking for the same thing.
Intergenerational workplaces are quickly becoming the norm in Canada, due to people choosing to stay in the workforce longer than they may have 10 or 20 years ago. This has resulted in more generations working alongside each other than ever before. There are some very obvious benefits to this, but also some significant challenges.
You’ve heard the terms Baby Boomer, Generation X, or Generation Y, often referred to as the Millennials. The Baby Boomers are between the ages of 50 and 68 today, Gen X is 35-49 years old, and the Millennials are between 14-34. Each of these generations is uniquely different, and is motivated by very different things.
According to a study published by EY, formerly Ernst & Young, Boomers are strong team players and very loyal, but don’t adapt so well. They value being productive and value mentoring others. They grew up during the post-war economy where money was scarce but opportunities were everywhere, if you were willing to work hard. Thus many poured all of their energy into their work, building financial stability or wealth. Their motivation was to provide more options for themselves and for their children.
The study goes on to say that Gen Xers are entrepreneurial, but rank low on executive presence. They do well with problem-solving and collaboration. They value flexibility in the workplace as an important perk, above financial gain. Gen Xers spent less time with their parents than previous generations of children had. This generation was first recognized as the latchkey kids. They were home alone and taking care of themselves and their siblings, while their parents worked. Thus they look for more balance between work and life. They work to live, not live to work.
Millennials are very tech-savvy, but are not always great team players. Their parents were Boomers, who nurtured and protected them. As they grew up they were praised and rewarded for minimal effort and as a result, these young workers have high expectations of recognition and reward in the workplace. They have watched their parents lose jobs as a result of downsizing and reorganizations, even after working extremely hard and giving all their loyalty to their employer. So for this generation, work is temporary and unreliable. They are less committed to an employer, sensing that employers are less committed to long-term employment.
Recognizing the factors that have shaped each generation is the first step in learning how to work effectively alongside someone from another generation. What motivates one will not necessarily motivate another. Embracing that, appreciating that, and learning to identify ways to build on other’s strengths is the beginning of success.