Generational Differences in the Workplace

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Generational Differences in the Workplace

Composition II—Eng 102

Generational Differences in the Workplace
The workplace of today involves interactions among people from four different generations often causing much conflict for leaders and organizations. Each generation represented has its own set of different values and beliefs. These differences can easily lead to conflicting barriers within the workplace. This can pose a significant problem for those in leadership. In order to combat this issue, leaders and organizations can effectively deal with these issues by offering different programs such as executive mentoring, town hall meetings, and leadership seminars for those in leadership. The workplace of today is composed of the intermingling of four different generations all working together towards a common goal. This combination of interactions can often cause much conflict for leaders and create challenges for organizations. Warner and Sandberg (2010) states, “people from different generations and age groups have rather different attitudes, values, beliefs and motivations from one another. These differences can easily lead to misunderstanding, miscommunication and even outright conflict in the workplace.” This can ultimately lead to a loss of productivity amongst fellow employees. The key to success for any leader or organization is learning to effectively deal with these challenges. Leaders and organizations must understand these differences and be willing to work together with their fellow team members. These interactions will lead to a better understanding of one another and make it easier to achieve the organizational mission.

In an ever-changing diverse workplace, there are currently four generations working together. Warner and Sandberg (2010) define them as, “Traditionals or Veterans,” “Baby Boomers,” “Generation X,” and finally “Generation Y.” Each of these groups can be classified as one cohesively behaving group, based on the eras in which they grew up (social, economic, political, technological influences).” Each individual in the workplace is unique in his or her own way. Some of this uniqueness can be attributed to several factors such as nationality, culture, values, gender and many more. Warner and Sandberg (2010) states, “people who grow up during the same era tend to be exposed to many of the same stimuli from the surrounding culture through the news, media, music, and other cultural factors.” How each generation deals with these differences can often create difficulties for leaders and organizations. We are living in an ever-evolving world. Technology and the information age play a major role in how members of the workforce communicate today more than it did several years ago. Depending on what generation or age group a leader or employee belong to has a major impact on how they view its importance. For example, someone from an older generation might be less interested in using newer technology than someone from a younger generation. These views on technology are influenced by the different eras in which an organization grew up. This can often create a communication barrier between different employees. These communication barriers can hinder productivity and create an overall feeling of frustration among employees. This frustration can cause a large loss in productivity in the workplace. Leaders and organizations must be ready and willing to deal with these differences effectively. The first and oldest generation represented is often referred to as “Traditionals” or “Veterans.” Members of this generation were typically born between 1900 and 1945. Kyles (2005) defines them as loyal, consistent, conforming, and having values based on respect for authority, integrity, and delayed gratification. This segment tends to be most loyal to their employer (Kyles, 2005). This is a very knowledgeable group with a lot of wisdom and experience. However, this...
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