Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we’ve ever known. [Ronald Reagan]
We are facing new future conditions in terms of the demographics in the workplace; we will soon have five generations there at the same time. This will be an unprecedented situation in our workplaces and will bring about both opportunities and challenges for Human Resource departments and top management of organizations around the world. No two generations are the same. The attitudes, passions, strengths and weaknesses of each generation are moulded by the world around them. Political influence, economic factors, and technological change all converge and produce a new set of individuals who see the world in ways the generations before them never did.
Forward-thinking organizations acknowledge this. They know that this will ultimately impact the way they work and, as such, they adapt their company’s processes to recruit and get the most out of the younger generations. The significance of this transformation shall be reflected in the types of workforce behaviours to be managed, in what motivates employee engagement, and in the tools and practices that Human Resources, C-suites, and organizations will need to adopt to interact and continuously tap into the emerging workforce. It is from this mixed, multi-generational environment that a new diversity challenge will emerge; one that cannot be underestimated anywhere.
Understanding the uniqueness of each of the generations in the workplace is a first step to ensuring that organizations, as well as each population, are given the best opportunities to thrive.
Workforce Demographic Types. Tab. 1.0
The table above summarises what you need to know about each generation you might find in the workplace. This information is relative and not exhaustive in itself, but is summarised based upon a generic randomization according to different researches done over the years by different scholars.
ARE MILLENNIALS THE NEXT GENERATION?
Millennial workers have really taken it on the chin in these last couple of years, haven’t they? It seems as though everyone—from the pundits to the leaders of industry—has had something negative to say about their young employees, calling them entitled, lustful, greedy, lazy, selfish… basically accusing them of all seven deadly sins. In practice, many of the young professionals I have seen are serious, thoughtful, and hardworking, with innovative personalities. All they need is to be given the benefit of time and experience.
My question then is: are Millennials the next generation in the workplace?
The simple answer is: yes, millennials are beginning to take over the workforce, at least in numbers that is. It was anticipated that it would happen eventually, and it appears that 2015 was the year it became obvious. Millennials are becoming the largest generation in the workforce and the magnitude will only get greater, with current projections suggesting that, by the year 2020, Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce globally.
They were born and raised in the era of technology and social media. They were the first generation who grew up with computers in their homes. They are good with technology by default and are familiar and comfortable with it. Millennials grew up in a much more globalized and mobilized world. Many millennials are from neighbourhoods in which different ethnic groups cohabit. In their world, various cultures coexist next to each other. They grew up holding diverse perspectives and a high level of tolerance towards differences. It is quite common to meet millennials who truly embrace differences and benefit a great deal from their open mindset.
They are typically confident (and sometimes over confident) due to highly involved, affirming parents. Millennials expect lots of feedback and rewards in the workplace and are considered to be idealistic. They work to live, not live to work. Work-life balance is more important to them than salary and they want to do work that improves society, putting emphasis on corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and diversity. They crave more frequent learning and advancement opportunities.
Master in International Human Resources Management