There are now 5 generations working together in the workforce.
As life expectancies increase, older people are likely to retire later on than they might have done in the past; leading to mixing of more generations in the workplace. This brings exciting new prospects, but a few new challenges that are worth addressing.
In some places there are as many as 5 different generations all in one workplace; Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. A more diverse age group in the workplace poses the prospect of people having different priorities. For example, some will want to progress to a senior position, others view their occupation as a stepping stone.
Depending on what influenced them growing up, different generations are motivated to work for different reasons. Things like war, poverty, and technology all play a part in shaping a person’s perspective.
The further people progress in life/work, the more their needs change; once needs like food and shelter are met, people want to achieve financial stability and self-actualisation. It’s important to be aware of this to ensure that people enjoy work and are able to take their lives in the direction that they want to.
Baby Boomers are famous for their hard working personality, often prioritising work achievements over other things. On the other hand, Millennials may prioritise family life over work and are often mistaken as less hard working if they are not as willing to sacrifice their free time for work. These generations are good examples of how people think differently about work.
As society changes, so do the accepted ideas about the world. This means that what might have been ok some years ago isn’t ok today. It’s important that we understand that things change, and that not everybody is going to hold the same values.
Again, using Baby Boomers and Millennials as an example, Baby Boomers are more inclined to believe that financial success is key, whereas Millennials are more inclined to believe that work is something that allows you to live life comfortably and provide for yourself/family.
We all have something to teach each other, and the workplace should encourage this. It is highly likely that there will be disagreements, but these can result in a highly positive outcome if addressed as a learning opportunity.